Methods,Materials and Techniques of ELT


Bravo! The New World of CLT



The thrust area of the seminar is deliberately intended to be comprehensive to dwell on all the pertinent issues related to English language teaching. It also seeks to provide a platform to the paper presenters and the participants to share and reciprocate their views, concerns, priorities in the classroom transactions and expertise in ELT.  Within a short span of time, I realized that the seminar has been rightly poised to overshoot this cherished objective as enquiries and papers started pouring in beyond my imagination.                   

            It is commonplace to say that ELT mostly encompasses methods, materials and techniques of teaching.  It is obvious that they are not static but always in a state of flux as teachers contribute their mite drawing upon their rich and varied experiences as can be seen from the papers.

            One of the avowed aims of the seminar is to narrow down the gap that has emerged of late between language and literature. In a way, the spurious dichotomy between them is largely the work of market forces as they are keen on exploiting the resources of language without heeding literature, the reservoir of resources. In fact,   

with the advent of globalization, the winds of change started blowing first slowly but later in the late 90’s they gathered much momentum dismantling many established classroom practices in ELT which hitherto had been held sacrosanct.  In the beginning of this decade there was an obvious tilt to learner-centeredness with the initiatives of State Higher education. This was further propelled by the market forces. This changed paradigm of learner-centeredness has turned out to be a blessing in many ways. Every teacher is convinced that it can only redeem the tongue-tied student from his passivity and the teacher from his complacency.

            The student can master the skill of speaking in the congenial atmosphere free from the contagion of fear.  The skill is considered to be very crucial to make him employable. The teachers and those who are at the helm of affairs were wedded to the ideology glossing over the other seamy side. However, the shift, as it were, has brought forth some sort of dynamism in the classroom. All of a sudden everybody talked about less TTT (Teacher Talk Time) and much STT (Student Talk Time) and many more.  But not everything augers well. Over-emphasis on marks, its natural corollaries, the conduct of lab examinations, awarding marks generously are symptomatic of another rot setting in, in  the heart of the system.  But some committed teachers are positively adamant and would not like to leave the battle-field as they are convinced can deliver goods despite some teething troubles.  

           It is obvious that the learning outcome of an English classroom can be bettered when the teacher employs the aid of many an ELT method of evaluating his/her classroom experiences.  Of these methods, observation has been given much prominence in the recent years since it continues to happen not only during the limited hours of actual language teaching but also starts before the lesson in the classroom and even  after class.  It is common knowledge that in one way or the other almost all teachers engage themselves in observation though it is not well-orchestrated. However, when it is well-structured leading to formal observation, it turns out to be beneficial in teaching and learning process. Here is the retrospective report of a Degree class in which you find CLT in action.My focus is on CLT as most of the papers take a plunge in it. So here in the report, mostly based on the principles of CLT, I made an effort to capture the activities of a class which can help understand the dynamics of one’s teaching. It should be borne in mind that it cannot be a perfect class as many a teacher can tackle the same material in a better way.


Objectives:   1. Making the students acquaint with different expressions which are used for talking/writing about one’s point of view/opinion when they are engaged in conversation. 2. To enable them to use the expressions appropriately, given a situation. 3. To talk or write about their views /opinions.

               Having planned my lesson, I stepped into the classroom casually Looking casually at their faces, I waved them to sit on. Three or four students caught my attention as they did not stand up. Further they were looking at me without any enthusiasm. That brought to my mind the picture of the photographer in Stephen Leacock’s “With the Photographer”. With little deliberation, I said at once: “I would like to narrate a story. Do you want me to do it?” They replied with a strong affirmative. I thought that they will always be in the right frame of mind and will take up any activity with dynamism  if a classroom situation is in the lighter vein.  With the narration, I entered the presentation stage without my being aware of it.

      “One day Leacock, the author and narrator went to a photo studio to get his photograph taken. The photographer looked at him without enthusiasm. After a while, he came to the narrator and asked him to wait. Later, he pursed his lips on seeing the author’s face saying it was not good. Without taking the narrator’s nod he retouched the photograph in such a way that the author failed to catch any of his features on it. The narrator wanted to have his image as God had given. The photographer’s view on the other hand was to give him a brilliant one. The narrator left the studio in a mood of utter helplessness.

Then  nodding my head at the boy who was looking at me with complete indifference (perhaps he knew it beforehand or considered it a needless appendage), I asked him whether he could guess the lesson to be taken up. He replied, “The Photograph?” with a rising tone. Then he came up with another answer as an afterthought. “Perhaps different views”. I went up to him and patted on his shoulder. Then I announced the topic to the class. “Today we are going to deal with  talking about one’s views”. I wrote it on the blackboard.

Pointing my finger at Raju who sat in the last row, I put the following question:
“Why do we need to talk about our views?”
“To get information,” pat came the reply.

I corrected him saying:“We get information. If we want to make it plural you can say, for instance, pieces of information. You know, information, like furniture, paper, soap etc., is an uncountable noun. While I was through the job, it struck me that it was better if the mistake was rectified in a suggestive way or even not bothering about it.

Then I explained the importance of expressing one’s opinion to them. “We all know that we can live perhaps without basic amenities for a few days. But tell me, whether our survival has any meaning if we do not have freedom to express our views. It is a kind of slave’s life who is supposed to conduct his life conforming to the dictates of his master without questioning the rationale of his logic. Then I posed another question to the student sitting in the last row. He seemed  to be ill at ease trying to converse with his neighbour in muffled tones. “Can you remain silent when your friends are discussing career planning or news about cricket?” He nodded his head in the negative. I demanded an oral answer. He said, “No, Sir. Impossible”. I encouraged him with a word of encouragement. I looked at him benignly: “Can you give me some expressions when you are going to express your points of view?” He did n’t make any attempt at the question. I thought it was a difficult question and so I threw the entire question to the whole class. None replied. I recast the question elaborately shedding some light on the answer with an example. “Suppose I say that population explosion helps the country in many ways. If you don’t agree to it, how would you express it?” I pointed my finger at a student in the third row. He fumbled for words. After a little while he came up with an answer: “You are wrong.”

Meanwhile, I saw a student who had slipped into deep slumber. “Never throw tantrums at a student who is sleeping. It would leave a bitter pill the mouth of the entire class,” recollecting my senior colleague’s words as I do always when my temper begins to fray, I went straight to him. Stroking gently on his shoulders, I said with an affected feeling of affection, “I won’t disturb. You can sleep till the end of the hour”. Disturbed and annoyed, he muttered something under his breath. He looked awkward. I urged him to wash up his face. He left the room at once, feeling ill at ease. Looking at the other students, I said whether they would agree to my sending their classmate out. One hastened to reply, “I think you are correct, Sir”. Looked at him patronizingly, I said” That’s good.” I wrote the expression “I think” immediately on the blackboard.

The student, meanwhile, returned standing uneasily but wearing a clumsy smile on his face. I said, “Come in, you looked brilliant now, Rajesh.” He darted to his place at once as if someone kicked him from behind. I was amused at the thought.

Later I asked a few students whether they could give any expressions when they were airing their views. As they were trying to give some responses, I started writing them on the board and added many more.

Formal Situations
Informal Situations
I’m afraid that I can’t agree to your view.
I feel ----
In my view/opinion----
To my mind ----
I’m convinced----
As far as I’m concerned ----
I’d like to say that -----
It seems to me -----
I do agree with you
As I see it-----
If you ask me, I say ----
I’m sure that ------
Don’t you think ---
I believe ----
I’m of the opinion -----
I consider ----

“Put your mind and heart into the work while you’re writing. Now I’m going to nominate two of you to play the role of Manoj and Rajesh who discuss their career plans. I’ll play the role of Director of Students’ Couselling and Career Guidance Cell, o.k.”, I paused trying to elicit their response. Most of them gave response in chorus positively. I thought that it was better if individual answers were elicited. When they have written the expressions, I rubbed the blackboard clean. Then I nominated Srinivas and Ravi to play the roles. I asked them to come on to the dais. I initiated the dialogue.

Director: Come in, boys.
Manoj: Good evening, Sir. We want some information.
Director : How can I help you?
Rajesh : Our careers, if I say so.
Director: Well, then. What class are you doing?
Manoj: B.Sc. Second year with CBZ combination.
Rajesh: I too, Sir.
Director: What do you want to become?
Manoj: I want to become an I.A.S officer.
Rajesh: It’s my ambition right from school days as I see it.
Director: It’s really great. Being young one should be ambitious.
Rajesh: But then one of my friends said that it was impossible.
Director: Not at all. Consistent hard work and dedication, I believe, will be paid off.
Manoj: Thank you, sir. Could you give us more information about it?
Director: Why not? Here is a book with all the information. Just go through it.
Manoj: Very kind of you, Sir. Thank you for all your help.
Director: You’re most welcome.

After a pause, I advised the students to be meticulous about their expressions and the way they were articulated. “Watch some English news channel. That will be of great help”. Later I proceeded to   put some questions on the topic discussed. I asked a girl student to give a few formal expressions conveying one’s point of view. She managed to give two or three. I asked another student to give a few informal expressions. In his reply, he gave all the expressions I had written just by looking at the notes.  Then I asked them to go through the dialogue on page no.109 in the text book. As they were through the task, the bell rang. Saying that they were going to play the roles Monday next, I left the room.


With the benefit of hindsight,  I feel that a teacher can still give much room to students to act out their roles without much interference. How much freedom is to be given, is the heart of the matter as it decides the learning outcome in a positive way.  There are no hard and fast rules to determine it and CLT becomes successful when the teacher keeps on reflecting his/her classroom practices. In the CLT paradigm, a successful teacher helps his students speak without monopolizing the classroom activities. The less he speaks the better will be the learning outcome. Here planning a lesson plays a lion’s share in determining the success of a classroom activity.

Unlike the traditional methods, materials, techniques of English Language Teaching, CLT opens up immense possibilities. Some times, the lesson will not go as has been planned.  Here the plan is not static but flexible. Much depends on the resourcefulness of the teachers. Here the teacher and the taught are engaged in experimentation – the former with the methods, materials and techniques of teaching language and the latter, with the language. None of them is fed up with each other. They complement each other in the relentless pursuit of collaborative learning.  Free from the burden of learning, the class wears a festive look, as the teacher and the taught work in harmony “stretching their arms towards perfection”.

 How many goodly creatures are there here!
 How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
 That has such people in't!”

Bravo! The New World of Communicative Language Teaching.

V. Pala Prasada Rao                                                        

Organizing Secretary



  1. KEY-NOTE ADDRESS                                                                                11
          Prof. Zafar Khan
  1. PLENARY SESSION                                                                                               14
            Dr Amitha Ruth

  1. Considerations in Teaching Authentic Materials                                           22       
Mortaza Aslrasouli

  1.  Designing a Literature-based Syllabus                                                          30
 Amarjeet Nayak

  1. Activating Listening Skills in Second Language Classroom                          34

  1. Newspaper Reading for Skill-set Development                                             40
G. Ravi Kiran

  1. CLT & the Importance of Lesson Planning                                                    45 Vijaya Babu, Koganti

8.   A Programme in English for Engineerng Students with Emphasis on Problem Solving                                                                                   52

9.   A Critique of ELT Methods                                                                           56                    T.R.Shashipriya

10. Communicative Needs in  Foreign Language Learning                                 63
K. L. Chamundeswari Devi                                                                                        Sasi Bala, L.

11. Techniques o English Language Teaching and Learning                                72
Grace Indira, C.
Vijaya Bharathi, D.

12. Role of English Language Laboratary in Developing Specific Communication Skills: A Case Study                                                                                              82
B. Srinnivasa Reddy

13. Techniques of Teaching English Language                                                    92

14. An Effective Bottom-Up Strategy for Teaching English to Second Language Learners                                                                                                      95
Allamneni Sharada

15. Teacher-Student Interaction and Language Teaching                                    105
            U.Ravindra Babu
            M. Ravi Chand

16. Teaching  and Learning Strategies in ELT                                           111
P.D. Satya Paul Kumar
V. Sudheer

17. An Analytical Study of ELT in India                                                                         115
K. Jaya Raju
N. Tyagaraju

18. An Exploratory Study on the Use of L1 and the Effect of L1 and L2  Writing
Meenakshi. B.S                                                                                               119
19. Teacher’s Role in the Class Room                                                                  125

20. Some Considerations in ELT                                                                          132
21. Equipping Students for Campus Placements                                                  137     
 T.S.Chandra Mouli

22. Equipping Students for Campus Placements                                                 138
T.S.Chandra Mouli

23. ABSTRACTS                                                                                                 139

1.  The Key-note Address
                                                Prof. Zafar Khan,                                                   
                                                                Former Principal,
                                                                Peace Academy,
                                                                Texas,  U.S.A. &
                                                                Former Professor of English,
                                                                Department of English & European Languages,
                                                                Bayero University ,  Nigeria ( West Africa )

Hon`ble President,
Venerable member of Legislative Council,
Revered Secretary and Correspondent,
Respected Principal,
Distinguished Director of PG Studies, Eminent Scholars, Researchers & Lovers of the English Language,
Esteemed Professor ,
Members of the Teaching & Non-teaching Staff of J.K.C. College, Students and
 my fellow participants.

            The British Council`s recent study entitled,  English Next India (2010) by David Graddol has sent shock-waves across South-Asian countries in general and India in particular. Its findings confirm that China may soon have more English speakers than India. No wonder that the news has startling implications.  The Times of India was the first news-paper which dedicated an entire editorial to discuss the global role being played by  English language in modern world. Chetan Bhagat, banker-turned-novelist and columnist quickly wrote a feature article advising educated Indians to learn and share English lessons with all. He found the British Council study more important and readable than the much talked about Liberhan Report. Bhagat succinctly points out that without English a middle-class youth is heavily stunted. He recommends that as a nation we must change our attitude towards English. The elite must give up snobbery and help the poor and less privileged gain proficiency in the use of English. He further opines that Methods, Materials and Techniques of teaching the English language must undergo scrutiny to enable millions of learners across the nation speak, read and write English effectively.
            As a matter of fact, we have gathered here at a time when there is a wave of very positive thinking in favour of gaining proficiency in the use of English. There is a mushroom growth of English language centres which are promising the moon to all those who join their English language programmes / training courses. There is very great demand of fluent speakers of English in BPO`s and their Call Centres. I  am  afraid that our universities and colleges have failed in delivering goods. They have not been able to produce the manpower needed by the employment market. Teachers of English have a huge challenging task at hand. These are the times of testing their mettle. This seminar is providing you with a unique opportunity of reflection, interaction and transformation. If we do not avail of this opportunity then posterity may not forgive us. Is it not shocking that even after ten or twelve years of education in our school system a very large number of students lack vocabulary, fluency and self-confidence in the use of English? Is it not a colossal waste of time, money and energy when even those joining management programmes, hospitality industry, engineering and several other professions can present or write projects in proper English?

The Task Ahead………………….
            Let us not be daunted by the fact that we face large classes and our resources are rather limited. Let us think how we can make the teaching of English interesting and exciting - full of fun and frolic. Eminent researchers of the last quarter of the twentieth century added substantively to the still evolving understanding of the four language skill: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. In each case what became known has overturned large parts of what was taken for granted until recently. M.L.Tickoo, one of the eminent Indian researchers, has remarked that besides the changed view of  the  three Skills i.e. Reading ,Writing and Listening, views have changed concerning vocabulary, understanding, focus on learners, insights into language acquisition, learner errors, & language as product and  process.
            One way to understand what is new is to view things in terms of dichotomies. Richards ( 1999 ) does so in dividing classroom activities into ` form-focused` and ` task-focused`. The former pay attention to sounds or letters, words, phrases , sentences etc; the latter to language as a meaning –making process at work. The two also represent two different views on learning. I appeal to the participants to discuss some of the burning issues of the ELT and come up with practical solutions to the problems of the Learner – the beneficiary of all our intellectual exercise and deliberations. (Summary of the Address)

2.Communicative Approach to Teaching Listening

Dr Amitha Ruth
Dept of ESL Studies
EFL University

The current trends in language teaching are dominated by a communicative approach to language learning. This orientation advocated the study of both the structure and function in order to learn a language. This was based on the term communicative competence, which included grammatical competence and also the rules of language use in social context and the sociolinguistic norms of appropriacy. The implications of this theoretical approach for language teaching were, thus, twofold. First, it was believed that learning is dynamic, social and communicative in nature. Second, the goal of teachers should focus on developing learners’ communicative competence and emphasize learner’s capacity in the language learning process.

In order to define the construct of communicative competence in more detail several theorists used different models.  The most current framework by Uso- Juan and Alicia Martinez- Flor (2006) is designed on the basis of all the earlier models. This pedagogical framework aims at incorporating all the competencies and showing the relationship among the components while highlighting the function of the four skills to build discourse competence. 

This is also understood in terms of the learning goals of a language learning course according to Nation and Newton (2009) (they provide the mnemonic LIST to help remember these goals):
1) Language items; 2) Ideas or content; 3) Skills and strategies; 4) Text/ discourse

A language course therefore should consist of “four roughly equal strands:
  1. Learning through meaning focused input; that is, learning through listening and reading where the learner’s attention is on the ideas and messages conveyed by the language.
  2. Learning through meaning- focused output; that is learning through speaking and writing where the learner’s attention is on conveying ideas and messages to another person.
  3. Learning through deliberate attention to language items and language features; that is learning through direct vocabulary study, through grammar exercises and explanation, through attention to the sounds and spelling of the language, through attention to discourse features, and through the deliberate learning and practice of language learning and language use strategies.
  4. Developing fluent use of known language items and features over the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing; that is becoming fluent with what is already known.”  Nation and Newton (2009)

This serves as the background for teaching language not only as a system of knowledge but also as a skill and a vehicle of ideas. The teaching of skills must therefore be done in an integrated manner as shown in figure:1, however, it is convenient to analyze these skills separately. Uso –Jaun and Martinez- Flor show how each of the skills fit into the bigger picture of the framework of communicative competence, and also how the different components influence the development of the particular skill increasing in turn their overall communicative competence in L2.

In the following sections we shall look at the principles for teaching Listening and Speaking within the framework explained here.

Listening within the framework of communicative competence:  

Nation and Newton (2009), state that Listening and Reading are the sources of ‘meaning focused input’. Here the learner’s main focus and interest should be on understanding, and gaining knowledge or enjoyment or both form what they listen and read. Uso-Jaun and Martinez- Flor explain that here the core of the proposed framework of communicative competence is the listening skill since it is the manifestation of interpreting spoken discourse and a way of manifesting the rest of the components.

Discourse competence implies an understanding of how language operates at a level above the sentence. It involves knowledge of discourse features such as markers, coherence and cohesion as well as formal schemata in relation to the particular purpose and situational context of the spoken text. Thus if listeners have to recognize and interpret what is heard in longer or interactive discourse, they need first to understand which discourse features have been used and why, and then relate them to the communicative goal and particular context of that piece of discourse.

In such a process, listeners play an active role in which activation form the rest of the components included in the proposed framework (i.e., linguistic, pragmatic, intercultural and strategic) is necessary to achieve overall communicative competence.  To put it in another way, having command of all these components implies that listeners will be able to know how the different parts of a given spoken text relate to each other at the discourse level, what they mean and, in short, keep communication running smoothly in a meaningful way.

Linguistic competence with listening at the core includes- elements of the linguistic system such as aspects concerning grammar, phonology and vocabulary. Pragmatic competence involves an understanding of the function or illocutionary force of a spoken utterance in a given situation, as well as the sociopragmatic factors necessary to recognize not just what that utterance says, in linguistic terms, but also what is meant by it. Intercultural competence implies having knowledge of both cultural and non-verbal communicative factors in order to appropriately interpret a given spoken text. The last component, strategic competence, involves the mastery of both communication and learning strategies that will allow listeners to successfully construct meaning from oral input.

Marrying Top and Bottom processing in listening:

Comprehension is viewed as a process of decoding and it begins with the received data that is analysed at successive levels of organization- sounds, words, clauses, sentences, texts- until meaning is derived. The listener’s lexical and grammatical competence in a language provides the basis for bottom-up processing.

Teaching bottom-up processing develops the learner’s ability to
¾    ­Retain input while it is being processed; Recognize word and clause divisions; Recognize key words; Recognize key transitions in a discourse; Recognize grammatical relationships between key elements; Use stress and intonation to identify word and sentence functions.

In order to develop bottom-up listening skills the classroom tasks will require listeners to do the following kinds of things:
¾    Identify the referents of pronouns in an utterance; Recognize the time reference of an utterance; Distinguish between positive and negative statements; Recognise the order in which words occurred in an utterance; Identify sequence markers; Identify key words that occurred in a spoken text; Identify which modal verbs occurred in a spoken text.

Top-down processing, on the other hand, refers to the use of background knowledge in understanding the meaning of a message. Whereas bottom-up processing goes from language to meaning, top-down processing goes from meaning to language.

Focus on top-down processing develops the learner’s ability to:
¾    Use key words to construct the schema of a discourse; Infer the setting for a text; Infer the role of the participants and their goals; Infer causes or effects; Infer unstated details of a situation; Anticipate questions related to the topic or situation.

The classroom activities to develop top-down listening skills are as follows:
¾    Students generate a set of questions they expect to hear about a topic, and then listen to see if they are answered; Students generate a list of things they already know about a topic and things they would like to learn more about, then listen and compare; Students read one speaker’s part in a conversation, predict the other speaker’s part, then listen and compare; Students listen to part of a story, complete the story ending, then listen and compare endings; Students read news headlines, guess what happened, then listen to the full news items and compare.

Traditional classroom listening activities focus mostly on bottom-up processing, with exercises that require close and detailed recognition, and processing of the input. They assume that everything the listener needs to understand is contained in the input. Efficient listening however, involves the integration of whatever top and bottom information the listener is able to exploit- incoming auditory and visual information, as well as information drawn form internal memory and previous experience.

A typical lesson in current teaching material therefore envisages a three- part sequence consisting of pre-listening, while listening, and post- listening and contains activities that link/ combine/ marry both types of processing (Field 1998).

Teaching Strategic Listening

A focus on how to listen raises the issues of listening strategies. Strategies can be thought of as the ways in which a learner approaches and manages a task and listeners can be taught effective ways of approaching and managing their listening: involving listeners actively in the process of listening.

Buck (2001) identifies Cognitive and Metacognitive strategies in listening. Cognitive strategies include mental activities related to comprehending and storing input in working memory or long-term memory for later retrieval. Metacognitive strategies include those conscious and unconscious mental activities that perform an executive function in the management of cognitive strategies- Assessing the situation (planning for the task), Monitoring (practice decision-making skills and strategy use); Self evaluating (reflect on the effectiveness of strategy use); and self testing (check their performance).

Listeners can therefore use strategies to enhance the learning process. Language teachers would thus do well, creating an awareness of and fostering the acquisition of metacognitive strategies. They should develop ‘metastrategic awareness’ (Mendelsohn, 1994, as quoted by Vandergrift, 1999) and teach them to become strategically smart. (See Appendix -A for a list of listening strategies).

Teaching Listening as Acquisition

In addition to this approach to viewing listening as comprehension, a language program should also provides scope for perceiving listening as facilitating second language acquisition. Field (1998) is of the view that a ‘conventional listening comprehension lesson simply adds yet another text to the learner’s experience; it does little or nothing to improve the effectiveness of their listening or to address their shortcomings as listeners. It provides practice in listening/ tests listening but fails to teach the skill. Success in the ‘comprehension approach’ is measured by correct responses to questions or tasks. Whereas in the acquisition approach a ‘process perspective’ is adopted, this views a listening lesson as a diagnostic activity. Here the function of the teacher is to identify and redress learners’ weaknesses as listeners.

An analytic approach to listening needs to be adopted which helps breaking listening into sub-skills. This approach offers the possibilities of adopting a diagnostic view to the lesson and to giving practice in ‘micro- listening’. For the sake of methodological clarity, a skills approach to listening needs to separate out three target areas: 1) Types of listening (for gist, for information, etc.); 2) Discourse features (reference, markers, etc.); and 3) techniques (predicting, anticipating, recognizing intonational cues, etc.) (See Appendix B for a list of listening sub-skills).

Listening texts need to be exploited first as the basis for comprehension and second as the basis for acquisition. While Listening serves primarily as a transactional function in the former approach, the latter gives scope for Listening which includes a focus on acquisition.
Johnson (2008) provides a two- part cycle of teaching activities, which are classroom strategies appropriate for the listening- as – acquisition phase:
      1) Noticing activities;        2) Restructuring activities.

Noticing activities involve returning to the listening texts that served as the basis for comprehension activities and using them as the basis for language awareness. For example, students can listen to a recording in order to :
¾    Identify differences between what they hear and  a printed version of the text; Complete a cloze version of the text; Complete sentences stems taken form the text; Check off entries form a list of expressions that occurred in the text.
Restructuring activities  are oral or written tasks that involve productive use of selected items from the listening text. Such activities could include:
¾    Paired reading of the tape scripts in the case of conversational texts; Written sentence- completion tasks requiring use of expressions and other linguistic items that occurred in the text; Dialogue practice that incorporates items from the text; Role plays in which students are required to use key language from the texts.

Teaching Listening in Integration with Speaking 

Linking listening tasks to speaking tasks as described in the listening as acquisition phase provides opportunities for students to notice how language is used in different communicative contexts. They can then practice using some of the language that occurred in the listening texts.

Practice can be given in speaking focusing on:
Conversational discourse: fixed expressions or ‘routines’ for different functions speaking performs and different purposes for which students need speaking skills;
Style of speaking: style appropriate to particular circumstances, appropriate to persons involved; and appropriate to the social meanings to be communicated.
Functions of speaking: talk as Interaction, talk as transaction and talk as performance.

Conclusion: This paper has suggested that, teaching listening should include:  Firstly, looking at the processing of listening text from both top and bottom which reflects real life listening. Secondly, instruction in listening should include strategy training involving learners actively in the process of listening. Thirdly, a process and an acquisition perspective should be adopted in Listening instruction- helping students to incorporate new linguistic items into their language repertoire to use them in oral production which finally leads to integration of listening with speaking and other language skills. 


Buck, G. 2001. Assessing Listening. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Field, John. 2008. Listening in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Field, John. 1998. “Skills and strategies: towards a new methodology for listening.”  ELT Journal 52/2.
Nation, I.S.P, and Newton, Jonathan. 2009. Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking. New York and London: Routledge.
Richards, Jack C. 2008. Teaching Listening and Speaking: From Theory to Practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Uso- Jaun, Esther., Martinez-Flor, Alicia. 2006. (ed) Current Trends in the Development and Teaching of the Four Language Skills. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Vandergrift, L. 1999. “Facilitating Second language listening comprehension: acquiring successful strategies.” ELT Journal 53/3.

3.Considerations in Teaching Authentic Materials  

Dr Mortaza Aslrasouli
Islamic Azad University_ Maragheh Branch,

Authentic materials are available in different forms in most of ELT contexts thanks to developments in information technology and mass media. However; the fact that the language samples used in the class are authentic, can hardly satisfy the requirements of a successful class. A number of factors need to be taken into consideration if we aim at making these materials more interesting, effective, and fruitful. This paper elaborates on various practical steps we can take to make a raw material (written/spoken) pedagogical and interesting and, consequently, increase students’ interaction with the text and class. It also provides theoretical support and justification for the suggested tasks and activities.

1.Authentic Vs Created Materials

            As Johnson and Johnson (1998, p.24) put: “The question of authenticity emerged as an important issue within Communicative Language Teaching and in relation to notional/ functional syllabuses, where emphasis was placed on ensuring that the classroom contained natural language behaviour, with content identified as relevant to the learner through the process of needs analysis. Texts are said to be authentic if they are genuine instances of language use as opposed to exemplars devised specifically for language teaching purposes.” Advantages claimed for authentic materials (Phillips and Shettlesworth, 1978; Clarke, 1989; Peacock, 1997):

1. They have a positive effect on learner motivation.
2. They provide authentic cultural information about the target culture.
3. They provide exposure to real language.
4. They relate more closely to learners needs.
5. They support a more creative approach to teaching.

            Created materials, on the other hand, refer to textbooks and other specially developed instructional resources. As Jack C. Richards (2001, p.253) observes, created materials also have some advantages:

1. Created materials can also be motivating for learners.
2. Created materials unlike authentic materials don’t contain that much difficult language
    and unneeded vocabulary items, which can be unnecessary distraction for teachers and
    learners . They do not contain language that may be beyond the learner’s abilities.
3. Created materials may be superior to authentic materials because they are generally
    built around a graded syllabus and hence provide a systematic coverage of teaching
4. Using authentic materials is a burden for teachers.

As with all examples of created materials, however, there are also potential negative effects of commercial textbooks. For example:

1. They may contain inauthentic language.
2. They may not reflect students’ needs.
3. They can deskill teachers.
4. They are expensive.

2. Extension of the Notion of Authenticity

          “It is not that a text is understood because it is authentic but that it is authentic
           because it is understood. … Everything the learner understands is authentic for
           him.” (Davis, 1984, p.192)
            Literature on the nature of authenticity reflects different approaches. These various views arise from either in depth analysis and elaboration of issue or different angles they see the issue. It may be helpful at this point to look at a few definitions of authenticity. Here are some definitions of authenticity of text or teaching materials:
An authentic text is a stretch of real language, produced by a real speaker or writer for a real audience and designed to convey a real message of some sort. (Morrow, 1977, p. 13)

Authentic texts (either written or spoken) are those which are designed for native speakers: they are real texts designed not for language students, but for the speakers of the language in question. (Harmer, 1983, p. 146) 
A rule of thumb for authentic here is any material which has not been specifically produced for the purposes of language teaching. (Nunan,1989, p.54)  
Wilkins (1976, p. 79) talks in similar vein about authentic materials as being materials which were originally directed at a native-speaking audience.  

Authentic texts have been defined as “… real life texts, not written for pedagogic purposes” (Wallace, 1998,p.145). They are therefore written for native speakers and contain “real” language. They are “… materials that have been produced to fulfill some social purpose in the language community”( Peacock, 1997). However, some people question this narrow view and extend the common notion of authenticity. Breen (1985, p. 61) distinguishes four types of authenticity:

1. Authenticity of texts which we may use as input data for our students.
2. Authenticity of the learners’ own interpretations of such texts.
3. Authenticity of tasks conducive to language learning.
4. Authenticity of actual social situation of the classroom language.

Putting each of these in other words, it may be seen that the teacher of language is faced with four questions (Breen,1985, p.61):

(a) what is an authentic text?
(b)  for whom it is authentic?
(c) for what authentic purpose?
(d) in which particular social situation?

            As Johnson and Johnson (1998, p.24) observe: “By identifying a category of task authenticity, Breen is able to recognize that a classroom activity may  be valid, natural and ‘authentic’ to the language learning process, while the instances of language use that it entails may be inauthentic in the established sense of the word.”

            Many language practitioners make the point that text authenticity is all very well, but more important is what is done with the text. Hutchinson and Waters (1987, p.159) elaborate on what is meant by ‘using an authentic text’: “Authenticity is not a characteristic of a text in itself: it is a feature of a text in a particular context. … In writing the text the writer will make a judgement as to the knowledge the assumed reader will bring to the text and the use the reader will make of it. The text, therefore, only assumes a value in the context of that knowledge and that use. A text can only be truly authentic, in other words, in the context for which it was originally written.” They (ibid) conclude that (p.160), “The importance of a text is not intrinsic to the text, but drives from the role the text has to play in the teaching, learning process. Ask yourself: ‘What do I want the text to do?’ On that basis the most appropriate type of text can be selected.”

            Wallace (1992), elaborating on the notion of authenticity and its implications for the teaching of reading, concludes: “Authenticity lies in the interaction of reader with text, rather than merely in the features of the text itself. There are several implications:
 _ The reader’s interaction will be supported by various kinds of contextual information.
 _ Language learners need to have available to them information about the immediate,
    institutional, and wider social context of the text, or at least the opportunity and
    encouragement to reconstruct it.” 
            Widdowson makes a similar point when he talks about authenticity not as a quality residing in instances of language but as a quality which is bestowed upon them, created by the response of the receiver. He further maintains that we do not recognize authenticity as something there waiting to be noticed, we realize it in the act of interpretation (Widdowson, 1979, p. 165).
            Kramsch (1993, pp. 178-184), following Breen and Widdowson and taking up many of the same themes, has a useful discussion of the various possible meanings of the word authenticity. She also points out, as does Widdowson (1990, pp. 46-7), that we have to distinguish between language-learning activity and language-using activity. As Widdowson says, inauthentic language-using behaviour may well be effective language-learning behaviour (p. 45). Kramsch concludes that all pedagogy is an artifact of educational discourse (p. 184) and that we need to measure what goes on in the language classroom, not against some problematically defined criterion of authenticity, but against whatever communicative and cognitive goals are accepted as appropriate in a particular educational context.
3. Considerations in Using Authentic Materials in Teaching English
            Having taken into consideration various perspectives on the nature of authenticity we may agree with Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 159) who observe: “There is, therefore, no intrinsic merit in an ‘authentic’ text as part of the teaching/ learning process.” Any endeavor to answer the following question can be promising: What do teachers and material developers need to do in order to help students avail themselves of the authentic texts or genuine materials in an effective and efficient way? The following are some suggestions that may be taken into consideration in evaluating, selecting and teaching authentic texts:
3.1. Selection and Evaluation of Authentic Materials
            In selecting and evaluating the authentic materials one need to consider the context and framework of language teaching. According to McDonough and Shaw (2003, p.5) the framework of language teaching includes factors related both to the learners themselves _ their needs, characteristics and so on_ and to the whole educational setting in which the teaching is to take place. Learner factors include: age, interests, level of proficiency in English, aptitude, mother tongue, academic and educational level, attitudes to learning, motivation, reasons for learning, preferred learning styles, personality. By setting they refer to the whole teaching and learning environment. This includes factors such as: the role of English in the country, the role of English in the school, the teachers, management and administration, resources available, time available, and socio-cultural environment.
            The course rationale as Richards (2001, p.145) puts seek to answer the following questions:  (a) who is this course for?(b) What is the course about? (c) What kind of teaching and learning will take place in the course? These factors need to be taken into consideration not only in selecting but also in designing tasks and activities. Some learner factors, for example, can determine what kind of text, with what level of difficulty can best serve the objectives of the class and make the activity interesting and manageable. Setting factors, for example socio-cultural environment and resources available can restrict the type of topic and the medium (written or spoken text). Here some of the learner and setting factors in two different context (Iran and India) are elaborated in order to provide a clear picture.

3.2. Bring Authentic Materials into the Classroom with a Purpose
            Setting goals and objectives, as Graves (1996, p.17) puts, provides a sense of direction and a coherent framework for the teacher in planning her course. Clear goals and objectives give the teacher a basis for determining which content and activities are appropriate for her course. When bringing authentic material into the classroom, it should always be done with a purpose, as Senior puts:
“ … we need to have a clear pedagogical goal in mind: what precisely we want our    students learn from these materials.” ( Senior, 2005, p.71)
Students feel more comfortable, more secure when handling authentic materials as long as the teacher provides them with pedagogical support.
3.3. Authentic materials need to be built around a graded syllabus and hence provide a systematic coverage of teaching items.
            Most of the time, this consideration is neglected by teachers. Only the fact that a text is interesting does not justify its selection and use in the classroom. Teachers should see if it satisfies other demands of the course or not. Teachers need to consider a variety of factors in developing, choosing, or adapting materials. Two of the most important according to Graves (1996, p.26)  are their effectiveness in achieving the purposes of the course and their appropriateness for the students_ and the teacher. Hutchinson and Waters (1987, p.65) define a course as “an integrated series of teaching-learning experiences, whose ultimate aim is to lead the learners to a particular state of knowledge.”
3.4. Administrating authentic materials in the class requires more expertise, skill, and preparation.
            A teacher’s expertise is a crucial and constructive factor. Meanwhile, in order to develop learning resources around authentic materials, teachers have to be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time selecting suitable sources and developing tasks and activities to accompany the materials. They also need to have a clear sense of why they will be used, how, and by whom. Richards (2001, p.148) observes: “Decisions about course content reflect the planner’s assumption about the nature of language, language use, and  language learning, what the most essential elements or units of language are, and these can be organized as an efficient basis for second language learning.”
3.5. Designing tasks and activities for authentic materials.
            Most teachers don’t bother spending some time to prepare some tasks and activities for the text they want to present in the class. They get some copies from a newspaper article, for example, and ask students to read it and ask some questions on the spot. Prior to presentation of a task, students need some preparation with regard to the content and structure of the text (e.g. pre-reading and pre-listening activities). Also during-reading or –listening tasks can help instruction intervene during reading or listening. Post-reading or –listening activities help students reflect on the topic and maximize the opportunity for discussion, consolidation and sharing their views. Teachers can also present an activity through one skill as a preparation for another task, for example reading a related text prior to listening or discussing the topic prior to reading a text. These activities can help the teacher make the task more meaningful, purposeful, and interesting. In real life people read or listen to a text with a purpose, some expectations and presuppositions. Spending some time and taking the aforementioned factors into account can be constructive in having an effective and interactive class. Here are some practical measures to achieve those goals:
I. Spend at least three hours to prepare for a one-hour presentation
            (a) After selecting an appropriate text for your class_ taking into account all  learner and setting factors_ you need to read or listen to the text several times, each time with a particular purpose. First, you need to identify what words, expressions, idioms and structures may be problematic for your students and which of them may be helpful and productive in enhancing your students’ communicative skills. Second, you also need to know through what activities those problems can be addressed. Third, see whether your students have any prior knowledge (schematic knowledge) about the topic. If they have, see how you can activate their prior knowledge, through what kind of pre-reading or pre-listening activities. If they don’t have any background about your selected topic, see how and through what activities (e.g. discussion about the topic, reading a topic or watching a movie prior to listening, etc.) you can provide them with some schematic knowledge about the topic.
            (b) Begin your class with an introduction to the topic in an indirect way. Relate the topic to your students’ personal or social lives. Create a condition in which students are interested and curious and, as a result, more involved and have a purpose in undertaking the tasks which, in turn, makes the task more meaningful and purposeful.
            (c) Activities mentioned in part (a) and (b) above are some enabling activities that help students efficiently embark on the reading or listening task (by familiarizing them with the content and explaining new words and structures). Moreover, students’ learning and involvement can be enhanced through some during-reading and during-listening activities that help instruction intervene during reading or listening and post-reading and post-listening activities that help students reflect on the topic and maximize the opportunity for discussion, consolidation and sharing their views.                                                                                                                                           

4. Concluding Remarks
            The kind of the text we select to present in the classroom is important and should be based on some considerations regarding learner and setting factors. However, more important factor is what we do with the text in the classroom. What kind of text and more importantly what kind of activities and tasks can facilitate and enhance students’ involvement in the classroom? How can their prior knowledge, interest, and curiosity_ about meaning, about structure, about how language might work, or about language use_ be activated by a text and activities and tasks accompanying it?  The success of class room transactions largely hinges on the way teachers address the questions.                                                                                                                             
Bachman, L. F. (1990). Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Bernstein, B. (1971). Class, Codes, and Control (Vol. 1). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
 Breen, M. P. (1985). Authenticity in the Language Classroom. Applied Linguistics 6, 60-70.
 Candlin, C. (1993). Problematising Authenticity: Whose Texts for Whom? Paper Presented at the TESOL Convention, Atlanta.
 Edwards, A D. (1980). Perspectives on Classroom Language. Educational Analysis 2, 31-46. [-10-]
 Ellis, R. (1993). Interpretation-based Grammar Teaching. System 21, 69-78.
 Harmer, J. (1991). The Practice of English Language Teaching: new edition. London: Longman.
 Hughes, G. S. (1981). A Handbook of Classroom English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Littlewood, W. T. (1981). Communicative Language Teaching: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 Littlewood, W. T. ( 1992). Teaching Oral Communication: A Methodological Framework. Oxford: Blackwell.
 Morrow, K. (1977). Authentic Texts in ESP. In S. Holden (Ed.), English for Specific Purposes. London: Modern English Publications.
 Nunan, D. (1989). Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 Rivers, W. M. & Temperley, M. S. (1978). A Practical Guide to the Teaching of English as a Second Language. New York: Oxford University Press.
 Stevenson, D. K. (1985). Authenticity, Validity, and a Tea Party. Language Testing 2, 41-47.
 Swan, M. (1985a). A Critical Look at the Communicative Approach. Part 1. English Language Teaching Journal 39, 2-12.
 Swan, M. (1985b). A Critical look at the Communicative Approach. Part 2. English Language Teaching Journal 39, 77-87.
 Widdowson, H. G. (1972). The Teaching of English as Communication. English Language Teaching. 27, 15-19.
 Widdowson, H. G. (1979). Explorations in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Widdowson, H. G. (1990). Aspects of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 Wilkins, D. A. (1976). Notional Syllabuses. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [-11-]

4.Designing a Literature-based Syllabus: Teaching English to Under-Graduate Students in an Indian Classroom

Amarjeet Nayak
Thapar University, Patiala, Punjab

Teaching English to the under-graduate students in an Indian classroom is a big challenge. The enormity of the challenge comes from various factors, such as the divergent socio-cultural backgrounds of the students, the linguistic diversity leading to different levels of felicity in the language and its literature, and also the teacher’s desire to ‘teach’ English to the students. In this paper, I shall deliberate on the issue of what constitutes the most effective ways of ‘teaching’ English language to Indian students, especially to students at the undergraduate level. I have chosen to specifically talk about the challenges of dealing with the undergraduate students for two reasons. Firstly, teaching English to undergraduate students is a bigger challenge than teaching to the graduate students because at the graduate level where the students would have gone through the process of being ‘trained’ / ‘taught’ in English enough to have come to a stage where there is a semblance of level-playing field in terms of their knowledge of the language and literature, especially the former, thus reducing the challenges for the teacher to some extent. Secondly, I would like to draw upon my own experience of engaging with undergraduate students for nearly three years to throw some light not only on the challenges, but some tools for dealing with the challenges in an intellectually stimulating way for students. In a nutshell, I intend this paper to contribute to the already existing body of knowledge on the student-driven education, a progressive pedagogy that dates back to Dewey, Piaget and others.

What is the best way of teaching English to the under-graduate students of a culturally distinct and diverse group, such as the one faced in an English classroom in India? This paper does not attempt to answer such a question, which is neither possible, nor desired; However the question needs to be asked by any English teacher with genuine concern for students as such a question has vexed and also spurred the English teachers (of English language or/and literature) in equal measure, in any part of the world where English does not happen to be the first language, such as in India. To arrive at an answer to such a question, it is best to follow the negative deduction method, i.e. to decide what the methods that must NOT be followed. One of the most undesirable approaches is for the teacher to take up the role of a giver of knowledge, of somebody who has to always speak from a higher pedestal looking down on his students. As A K Sinha, a Professor in English points out:
It has been generally observed that, with some exceptions, the teacher of English literature in India in the recent past has tended to approach his students from a certain high pedestal. This teacher has appeared to the dazed students as the ‘maker’, an omnipotent, omniscient entity, the reservoir of knowledge… (“Teaching Style” 157)
The English teacher in India has to instead assume the role of a facilitator who would attempt to make language learning interesting while taking into account the student’s lack of proficiency in English. In other words, the teacher has to bring in his own expertise in English and literatures in English to highlight the subtle nuances of language. The reason why English language classes in India tend to be uninteresting for students is due to the above-mentioned reason of the teacher assuming the role of a ‘giver’ of meaning, and not necessarily that of a co-participant in trying to ‘find’ the meaning or meanings of a text from a similar level playing field.

From my own experience as a teacher, I would like to suggest the following as one of the methods in which one can attempt to make language learning interesting for students, especially for those at the undergraduate level, and more so when they do not happen to be students of literature.


Introducing literature in a language ‘learning’ class has proved to be quite a productive and satisfying experience for me as an instructor. Before going further, it is pertinent to place myself as an English teacher in the specific context from which I operate so that my methods do not come across as an attempt at any sort of generalization. I ‘teach’ a course of Communication Skills to Undergraduate students in Engineering at Thapar University, a premier educational institute in India. At the risk of stating the obvious, the role of sound linguistic proficiency in communication skills cannot be overstated. So, when I talk about introducing literature in a language class, I am especially talking about an Undergraduate class consisting of primarily non-literary students, for a majority of whom English is not the first language.

Keeping the above-mentioned point in mind, I have designed a syllabus that also includes literary texts. At this point, it is also pertinent to draw attention to the fact that for an English teacher in India, the major challenge is not just to make the students aware of the basic grammar and syntactic rules of English language, but to make the student realize that one should also understand that each language comes with its own unique cultural baggage. For instance, I have found an example that I had come to learn from my English language teacher at the high school level very useful in explaining the importance of one’s awareness of the relation between language and culture which is this: When someone in India asks us, “When can I come to visit you?”, we can ask him to come, “any time”, which will make the person feel very welcome. However if we say the same thing to someone from the West, then it might be construed that we are not particularly interested in inviting the concerned person, because if we were, then we should have been more specific and not ‘vague’ in saying ‘any time’. This and other such subtle cultural nuances of language can be best learned through the study of literary texts, at the same time also asking the students to use their own discretion and not to accept any rule as a generalization such as the example cited above.

Since it is a primarily Communications Skills course syllabus, I have to squeeze in only a very limited amount of literary texts in the syllabus since a roughly four-month semester has to also include the basics of communication, types of verbal and nonverbal communication, barriers to communication, etc. It will be instructive to discuss the texts that I have decided to include in the syllabus and explain in some detail the reasons for including them so that it firmly reaffirms my contention that introduction of literary texts, when done wisely, can help the students immensely in developing their linguistic proficiency. It is also my contention that it will make them more sensitive to the use of language in their own usage.The five literary texts that were chosen for the course were George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Mainak Dhar’s The Funda of Mix-ology, O’ Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”, Leo Tolstoy’s “How Much Land Does a Man Need?”, and R K Narayan’s “A Horse and Two Goats”.

All the selected texts are written in a relatively simple language, even though some of them are considered classics. This selection is to make the students realize that literature, even the acknowledged classics do not have to be written in a language that will be inaccessible to students such as them. Moreover the relatively modest length of a novel such as that of Animal Farm does not put them off. Not just that, the novel reads like an entertaining fable. The above mentioned considerations for including Animal Farm in the syllabus might seem very simplistic, but these considerations, namely use of not-so-complex language, modest length, and an easy-to-understand plot, I strongly believe, have to be of paramount importance in choosing a literary text for the kind of students I have talked about earlier in this article. As a practicing English teacher, I would recommend these as the three most basic parameters in choosing literary texts for the syllabus.

Apart from all the three reasons mentioned for choosing Animal Farm, the selection of The Funda of Mix-ology serves another purpose. Unlike Animal Farm, this novel talks about issues that the present educated Indian youth have to contend with, things that the students can easily identify with. This novel belongs to that category of novels churned out to appeal especially to the educated Indian youth, a category popularized by writers such as Chetan Bhagat and Mainak Dhar, among others in India in recent times. Since the students belong to the intended target reader category, the selection of such a novel in the course should seem natural. But hardly any Indian university prescribes any of these novels as they consider these as non-canonical, non-literary and hence not fit to find a place along with the ‘classics’. The exclusion of such popular texts from the syllabus in Indian universities for the above-mentioned reasons can be seen as the syllabi-makers’ failure to utilize yet another opportunity to interest students in literature by introducing texts that appeal to them.

Apart from the two novels, the selection of the three stories is based on the three basic parameters mentioned earlier. Furthermore, two of these stories, i.e. “The Gift of the Magi” and “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” will familiarize students with the great literatures of the world. Narayan is one of the greatest Indian writers in English and certainly one of the most accessible to the UG students. So, including one of his stories in the syllabus certainly is worthwhile. Moreover, “A Horse and Two Goats” owes its selection to its exploration of the theme of miscommunication between two people of different cultures and languages, a theme that can be explored in discussing theoretical aspects such as barriers to meaningful communication. Thus the selections of the literary texts have to be done wisely considering the above-mentioned parameters so that the students are not put off, and are instead drawn into them.

At this point, it needs to be pointed out that the selection of the ‘right’ texts, though important, is only the first step in the English teacher’s endeavor to make language learning an enjoyable experience. The teacher, through his / her discussion with students from a level playing field has to facilitate a meaningful discussion. As a teacher, I would suggest that one should give the students a free hand in discussing the texts, and should only intervene when the students completely loose their focus from the issue at hand. More importantly, the teacher should look for opportunities wherein s/he can make the students more sensitive of the subtle nuances of language. For instance, a discussion of Animal Farm that revolves around the emergence and dilution of the ideology of communism in Russia provides the teacher a wonderful opportunity to talk about the various connotative meanings of the word ‘red’. For example, does the ‘red flag’ in a communist country simply mean a flag that is red in colour, or whether the colour red stands for some ideology? This can be a starting point for discussing the various other meanings of the word ‘red’ in different contexts, which should ideally lead to other such words that the students may be familiar with that can have similar multiple meanings in different contexts.

Since the Indian UG class room primarily consists of students for whom English is not the first language, they usually translate their thoughts from the sentences that they first form in their first language and then translate into English. Though ideally, they are expected to come to a level when they can think in English, the process of translation can be the beginning of such a process. For a majority of such students, the translation is a problematic one not just because they are not sure of the basic English grammar, but because they are not so familiar with the cultural nuances of English language as significantly different from those of their first languages. The students need to be made aware that “There is interplay of cross-cultural pride and prejudice when one world is represented for the other in translation”. (K. Satchidanandan 124)

Hence, the role of an English teacher in an Indian under graduate classroom should not end with making the students aware of English grammar. S/he must bring in them the awareness that English language, like any other, has its own cultural baggage, and has its own subtle nuances. Literature, in the hands of teachers, can be an extremely powerful tool in achieving this goal.

Satchidanandan, K. “Translation as Writing: Text, Translation, Authenticity: Towards an Indian Perspective.” Authors, Texts, Issues: Essays on Indian Literature. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2003. 117 – 128.

Sinha, A. K. “Teaching Style”. Eds. Sudhakar Marathe, Mohan Ramanan, and Robert Bellarmine, Provocations: The Teaching of English Literature in India. Madras: Orient Longman Limited, 1993. 157 – 162.

5.Activating Listening Skills in Second Language Classroom: Problem Analysis


                                               Swarnandhra College of   Engineering   and Tech.                                                                                           

The  current approach to the teaching of second language listening reposes faith on  extended practice. It embodies a belief that learners listening skills improve if they are exposed over time to a large number of spoken texts in the target languages. Attempts are made to grade the texts in terms of the frequency and complexity of the language they employ; and progress is judged by the learner’s ability to handle texts of increasing linguistic difficulty.

          This discussion is edging the reader towards a view of the comprehension approach not as an end in itself but as the means to an end. The teacher’s goal should not be to obtain correct answers to questions but to discover more about the techniques and strategies employed by the respondents. By establishing how answers to comprehension tasks are arrived at, we build up a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of a group of learners-one which enables us to contribute constructively to their development as listeners. On this analysis, the principal aim of a full-length listening session is diagnostic. It affords insights into where understanding has broken down, which can then be followed up, with small-scale remedial exercises that aim to prevent these errors from occurring again.

Strategies in Teaching Second Language Listening Skills

It is no gainsaying the fact that the current practice in ELT takes it for granted that one’s listening proficiency becomes remarkable with one’s expertise in speaking skills. The fallacy in this version of events lies in the assumption that extended exposure to L2 speech necessarily leads to better listening skills. This may well be the case when learners are living in a target language environment. Under such conditions, They have a high level of exposure, a strong motivation for reasing out meaning from the speech that is gong on around them, and the possibility of negotiating meaning and repairing breakdowns by means of face-to-face encounters. But the situation of those who are acquiring L2 in a classroom is very different .It certainly happens that some learners skills do improve over time by dint of answering comprehension questions on a series of recordings, but those of many others do not. These weaker listeners do not succeed in recognizing enough of the input to feel capable of extracting meaning from it. As the texts employed become more challenging, they either adopt a defeatist attitude or give up listening altogether, or fall back increasingly on loose compensatory strategies based upon contextual information.

This exchange illustrates the most fundamental flaw of the CA.The approach focuses attention upon the product of listening in the from of answers to questions or responses in a task, and fails to provide insights into the process by which the product is derived .It also, of course, adopts the assumption that there is a single correct answer to each question. As we know, that belief is very much open to challenge, the listener does not just ‘receive’ the speaker’s message but has to actively reconstruct it. There may well be information in the listening passage, unnoticed by the materials writer, which partly or wholly supports Dmitri’s choice of option A. Or the problem may lie not in his listening skills at all, but in certain ambiguities of the multiple – choice question.
The solution is very simple .It is to ask learners to justify their choice of answer. After encouraging a class to explore possible interpretations of a section of a recording, a listening teacher might then go on to ask the simple question why? The learners’ explanations for their choice of answers are informative, whether the answers themselves are correct or not.
In the case of a correct answer, the teacher finds out how the answer was arrived at, and thus establishes the extent to which it was based upon information from the text as against external contextual information. The teacher also gains possible insights into the learners listening style. Comparisons can be made between the techniques used by this successful listener and those of others who did not answer correctly.
In the case of a wrong answer, the teacher gains an indication of where the learners listening difficulties originate. This opens up the possibility of a later session in which these problem areas are practiced intensively. A further benefit of following up a’ wrong’ answer is that the conclusion reached by the learner may sometimes prove to be well founded, the teacher [ofL2 listening] Can only continue to test comprehension, not to teach it. We need to move into a position where the teacher is able to recognize particulars patterns of behavior in listening manifested by an unsuccessful listener and provide exercises for the student which will promote superior patterns of behavior (superior strategies)

At present, much of the activity in which teachers engage involves providing and checking answers. An alternative is to oblige learners to take more responsibility for making sense of the recording, and to move much of the burden of instruction on to examine their answers and trying to repair gaps in their listening competence.
The standard lesson as falling into three stages: pre-listing, listing and post listing. There is a tendency by practioners to over-extend the first of these. They naturally feel, as teachers, that they wish to prepare learners adequately for a listening session; as a result they sometimes pre-teach more new vocabulary than is strictly necessary to is also sometimes misapplied, leading to an extended discussion of the contained in the listening passage. The writers of listening materials are also responsible in that they often introduce a great deal of superfluous scene-setting prior to listening.

        The result is to reduce the time available for the ‘listening’ phase, and thus the possibility of multiple replays or of investigating learner responses. In these circumstances, the teacher is likely to adopt a more interventionist stance: proffering correct answers rather than requiring learners to re-listen. The final post-listening phase is often cursory, focusing mainly on new vocabulary or on checking answers.

            The format is clearly not compatible with the type of approach that has been advocated here: one that allows for multiple replays with learners forced to form conclusions of their own. and one that provides for post-listening remedial work that tackles problems that may have arisen during the session. The distribution of such  a lesson shifts the balance much more towards the ‘listening’ and ‘post-listening’ phases,

            An alternative format might feature a rather shorter post-listening phase, with the teacher noting the problems manifested by learners as they arise, but dealing with them in a subsequent lesson. This allows time for remedial materials to be prepared. There are several ways of recording information about learner’s difficulties that support this more extended approach. They include:

Remedial Materials
            Field notes: The teacher keeps records during and after listening classes and specify where low levels comprehension crop up   and about the parts of a recording which caused most difficulty.

            Video recordings: The teacher views a video recording of a listening class to identify where major problems arose, and which learners were most affected.

Analyzing the Listening Problems in Decoding

            The best procedure is for teacher to build up their own field notes of frequent breakdowns of understanding that have been observed. They might group them according to the level of language where the error occurred-i.e. by whether the problem related to the recognition of sounds, syllables, words, grammatical patterns or features of intonation.

            However, a listening problem at word level has at least six possible causes:

Remedial Materials

  • The learner does not know the word;
  • The learner knows the written from of the word but has not encountered the spoken form.
  • The learner confused the word with a phonologically similar one.
  • The learner knows the spoken form of the word but does not recognize it in connected speech generally or in this utterance in particular;
  • The learner recognized the spoken form of the word but failed to match it to any meaning.
  • The learner recognized the spoken form of the matched it to the wrong meaning.

Learner hears the sentence I’ve lived in Italy for ten years and fails to
understand that it implies does not understand this ‘durational’ use of the present perfect (a state that continues through and beyond the present movement). In this case an explanation may be needed. But it might simply be that she has not heard the sound /V/ (in connected speech, often reduced to little more than to token narrowing of the gap between upper teeth and lower lip). In this case, the teacher would take a very different course. It would make sense to expose the learner to a set of similar examples so as to develop her ability to discriminate between I’ve lived and I lived.
The examples just given quite neatly illustrate the difference between two types of problem:
A text problem of decoding, relating to knowledge of the language and dealt with by providing information;
 A process problem of decoding, relating to a gap in the learner’s listening competence.
Remedial Materials

The best resource at the teacher’s disposal is dictation. By this, I mean not the notorious dictee that once featured in secondary-school language teaching, where short sections of a text (usually literary) were read aloud twice, with pauses for learners to write and instructions on punctuation. Instead, the teacher reads aloud naturalistic spoken sentences as informally as possible, or plays sentences which have been excised from a naturalistic or authentic recoding. Learners are asked to write down what they hear or to respond to it in some other way that demonstrates understanding. Spelling is not an issue: the important thing is for learners to demonstrate their ability to recognize words.
            In addition, in English, the     single phoneme /d/ can represent both had (he said he’d gone) and would (he said he’d go).So we need to train learners to draw there time reference from the form of the main verb (gone vs. go) rather than expecting a reliable clue in the auxiliary verb.

Table 5.1 Exercise to Practice Processing of
 Indirect Speech
a)      He said he’d write to Johan
b)      He said he’d written to Johan
c)      She said she’d found the keys.
d)     She said she’d find the keys.
e)      He said he’d meet them.
f)       He said they’d be angry.
g)      They said they’d repair the car.
h)      They said they’d repaired the car.
i)        She said she’d phone Peter.
j)        She said she’d phoned Peter.

Analyzing the Listening Problems in Meaning Building
These more general meaning-building processes fall into four groups,
Depending on whether they are broadly connected to:

            Text-so-far: what the listener has heard up to now;
            Context: outside information which the listener has to bring to bear           
            Pragmatics; the listener’s understanding of what the speaker intends at any given point;
            Global understanding: the direction taken by the speech event as a whole.

Remedial Materials and Activities

            Sum up what they have heard so far and say what they expect to hear next;
            Have to use world knowledge to establish a context or to expand upon what is said;
            Use the speaker’s opening sentences to identify the situation;
            Paraphrase an ambiguous piece of text or a set of ideas that are linked by the speaker in a way that is not very clear”
            Simply identify the main point or the speaker’s attitude or role;
and so on

Table 5.3 Sample Feedback Sheet for Reflective Self-study

  • Overall Recognition
            1.   Roughly how many of the words in the whole passage did you recognize?
            A. The first time you listened to it?...............%
            B.  After listening to it several times?............%
            C.  When listening with the helpof the tapescript?...........%

  • Problems in Recognizing Words
            2.   Using the tapescript, write down some of words that you
            A   did not recognizes at the beginning but recognized after listening several times.
            B.  Did not recognize until you had the help of the tapescript.
            C.  Found difficult to recognize even when you had the tapescript.
            3.   Now look at each of the words and try to say why you had difficulty in recognizing it.
            I did not recognize the sounds. I got the syllables wrong.
            The word was not said in a standard way.
            The word was not easy to hear.
            I confused it with another word. Other reason.
  • Problems in Recognizing Grammar
4    Using the tapescripts, write down any groups of words that you did not recognize.
5.   Now try to say why you did not recognize the structure.
            I misunderstood or did not hear important words.
            I did not notice inflections.(-ed,-s,etc.).
            I was mislead by the word order.
            I heard all the words but did not connect them to the grammar.
            I was misled by the grammar of my own language.
            I did not know the grammar. Other reason.
  • Problems with Meaning
  1. Using the tapescript, write down groups of words where you recognized most of the words did not understand the meaning

            It draws attention to the products of listening in the form of answers, but tells the instructor nothing about the processes which have given rise to them.
 I have proposed treating the Comprehensive Approach not as the centerpiece of listening practice but as the means to an end. Instead of simply checking answers, the instructor operates diagnostically, establishing precisely why certain answers (correct or in correct) have been given. In this way, insights can be obtained into the problems that are being experienced by the learners-insights which enable remedial steps to e taken. Instead of simply providing more and more practice, instructors direct their attention to improving the quality of listening that takes place in their classrooms and in the world beyond

            Brown, G (1986) “Investigating Listening Comprehension in context”. Applied Linguistics,7/3:284-302.
            Sheerings.(1987) “ Listening Comprehension: Teaching or Testing?” ELT Journal, 41/2:126-31.
            Wilson, M. (2003) ‘Discovery Listening-improving Perceptual Processing’. ELT Journal, 57/4:335-43.

6. Newspaper Reading for Skill-set Development

G. Ravi Kiran
The Hindu
Of the four-fold skills of language, speaking and writing receives much attention.
 The rest are grossly ignored. In his celebrated essay, Francis Bacon brought out the art of reading and the advantages accrued if one cultivates it carefully. Man’s success both temporal and spiritual is largely dependent on  his ability to get the message.  In his focal work on the The Utility of Skills (2004), Michael Gray observes: “ when we read something we understand it at three levels: first, the purely literal responding to the graphic signals only with little depth of understand, the second level at twhich the reader recongnised the author’s meaning and the third level where the reader’s own personal experiences and judgement influences his reponse to the text”. These levels can be summarized as reading the lines, reading between the lines and reading beyond the lines”. (98). Readers can adopt different strategies depending upon the kind of material they deal with. They may skim, skip or scan in order to optimize it.  In the wake of liberalization, it has become very important as it can push back one’s horizons of knowledge and more importantly equips one to take on the world of employment. In the paper, my chief engagement  can be succinctly summarized in two ways: to bring out its usefulness as it makes one more employable as it has much authentic material  and suggest  some  ways
to improve it.

            It is the age of the skill-set. Plenty of jobs emerging at local, regional, national and international levels go only to reflect the rising demand for skilled people. It is now education for employment,no longer for knowledge. Winners are "knowledge workers" and not "knowledgeable persons" any more. A practitioner of knowledge, who develops skill-set on a regular basis, is the one who is finding best careers locally or globally.

Skill-set is everything that one needs to satisfy the requirements of the industry and its emerging demands. It is like a calabash pot, which symbolises a mix of African cultures. You need everything positive and nothing negative. Attitude, knowledge, analytical abilities, problem-solving skills, communication and English language competencies and so on. All these qualities are interdependent and they shine like a star as a team. To sharpen these qualities, wide reading is the key. Exercise is to the body what reading is to the mind. This is the age of the mind, where people with sound skills in
observation and reasoning outperform others. It is the age for those who cultivate mind to develop their information-gathering abilities and their analytical, problem-solving and team building skills.

Reading is by itself a skill. One has to have to an ability to know which reading material to choose to develop their skills in the areas of their operations or study. Right choice of reading material is a skill that comes through long and careful reading. It is said: "Introduction begins at school while education ends with life".

A good reader is by nature a good reader of newspapers. The good reader depends on newspaper reading for the depth of understanding of current events at local, national and international levels. "I made it a rule for my son not to step out of home without reading the day's newspaper. My son followed my rule and he is doing extremely well," says a father. It is not a one-day affair. Nor even is it limited to reading one's favourite section like sports or cinema or local political gossip.

News is something you can use on a daily basis. it is information that you use to understand and form opinion about the socio-political and economic trends. You can stay ahead by making use of news. It transcends limitations and applies to all areas of knowledge and human endeavour. Learning and educated communities and people spend much time on newspapers to stay contemporary and focused.

Serious newspaper reading starts among young adults. It is crucial to develop a proper understanding among these people to know what to read, how to read and how long to read a particular section. A newspaper contains information of all varieties under the sun. It is for the reader to read all sections casually and read some in depth. If you are a management graduate or professional, you can devote more time to sections catering that news.

For those studying English as a second language (not as mother tongue), the language newspapers are a great help. It is not just for reading news, but also for developing one's language skills. As India has an English learning tradition from the days of the British Raj, the people had a chance to adjust and excel in these days of fast globalising world. For the Chinese, it is still proving to be difficult to read, write and speak English, which is the only way to compete in skill-driven global market.

A serious newspaper reader spends hours together on the day's papers. Some senior citizens are there who spend more than five hours a day. A student wanting to do well in future careers is expected to read a newspaper for not less than an hour every day. It is important to use this time intelligently to read only that news that will be useful to them in their understanding of information relevant to their field of study and also current events.

Citizens and consumers, policymakers and administrators, countries and Governments, women and young people, professionals, literates, businessmen, farmers and workers and others. National and international issues, political developments, government, crime, civic affairs, environmental aspects, science and education, women, youth, lifestyles, entertainment, sports and what not.

A smart reader is the one who not only reads a lot but does it very intelligently to further either studies or profession. The smart readers make frequent references to newspaper articles and keep newspaper clips for future reference as well. The smart reader looks for depth in reading and not satisfied with width. A deep understanding of events is necessary and not insufficient information on all aspects.

Today's generation of youngsters have a problem of plenty. TV News pours in constantly giving them little bits of information on a wide variety of topics. For depth in understanding of national and international events, the young ones have to rely on the newspapers. A serious and smart reader always finds success and happiness.

            It should be remembered that any of the four-fold skills of language does not divorce from one another. Hence, the activity of reading has to be followed and integrated with any of other skills. For instance, after reading some text, the reader is supposed to share his ideas orally. He can debate or deliberate. He can also write putting forth his views or summarizing it. In fact, the scope is endless. It can be said that if one makes reading purposive, it paves way for one’s success. The Hindu E-plus Club on Mondays and many other initiates by various news papers and journals are mainly intended  how best the skills can harmoniously be extended.  If teachers promote integration of skills in the class rooms the students will be at ease in dealing with language. Since newspapers have copious material suited to different students at affordable cost, it can be concluded to cultivate purposive reading will be highly rewarding experience and it will be paid off rich dividends. 


Gray, Michael (2006). Integration of Skills.  New Delhi: OUP. 
Littlewood, W. T. ( 1992). Teaching Oral Communication: A Methodological Framework. Oxford: Blackwell.
 Morrow, K. (1977). Authentic Texts in ESP. In S. Holden (Ed.), English for Specific Purposes. London: Modern English Publications.

 Nunan, D. (1989). Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 Rivers, W. M. & Temperley, M. S. (1978). A Practical Guide to the Teaching of English as a Second Language. New York: Oxford University Press.
 Stevenson, D. K. (1985). Authenticity, Validity, and a Tea Party. Language Testing 2, 41-47.


                                                                         Vijaya Babu, Koganti
                                                                          M.A, B.Ed, M.Phil, CTS-    ELT (Oregon)                                   
                                                                                                       Lecturer in English , ELT Trainer
                                                                   Academic Cell, O/o Commissioner
                                                               Collegiate Education, Nampalli,

The different methods that emerged in the teaching of the English language explain the revolutionary changes that occurred in the progress of the English language teaching ideology.  Of all the methods, namely ‘Grammar Translation Method’ ‘Direct Method’, ‘Oral Method’, ‘Audio-Lingual Method’, ‘Bilingual Method’, etc., the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has become the ‘umbrella’ approach with an accepted ‘norm’.  All other methods are teacher – centered or teacher directed in one way or the other. CLT probes the nature of social, cultural and pragmatic features of a language and promotes learner autonomy. 

 CLT is a generic approach and it lays emphasis on learning communication through interaction.  Compared to the traditional language methodology, the CLT method gives greater freedom and scope for the learners to break the circle of bondage as a passive observer.   CLT method, as observed by David Nunan (1991:279) provides opportunities for learners to focus not only on the language aspect but also on the ‘process of learning’ it self.  It gives us a scope to link class room ‘language learning’ with ‘language activation’ out side the class room.  Changing the role of the teacher as a dictator, this method shapes the teacher into a facilitator, guide and a mentor. Students work individually, in pairs and in small groups with selected authentic, real – life situation materials and case studies. It provides an opportunity to learn the language through several activities and communicative events like information gap activities, jigsaw activities, task completion activities, information gathering activities, opinion sharing activities, information transfer activities, reasoning gap activities, role plays etc.,
CLT method can be adopted for teaching a language both in Content-Based Instruction (CBI) and Task-Based Instruction (TBI) - called in brief the Process – Based CLT approaches. Though they are described as extensions of the CLT movement, they take different routes to achieve the goals of CLT. (Jack C. Richards, 2001). Normally in most of the classrooms, while following Content-Based Instruction (CBI) content is covered and language focus is ignored, though the content chosen is prepared around the aspects of grammar, vocabulary, skills, functions etc., CLT helps teachers to devise a number of lessons/ activities with a focus on reading, writing, listening and oral presentation skills, and group discussions as are found in standard course books which are designed to develop LSRW skills.

Task – Based Instruction (TBI) focuses on learning a language through ‘pedagogical’ and ‘real world’ tasks like drills, cloze activities, listing, sorting and ordering, matching, comparing, problem – solving, sharing etc., This facilitates the teachers to develop their own worksheets abandoning the text –books.

A good lesson plan with Pre, While and Post activities and in a P-P- P (Presentation, Practice and Production) Model will make the class situation and output more interesting and creative. An effective lesson plan guides the teacher in a step-by-step procedure and helps him achieve his goals. It helps the instructor to check where he/she is going wrong and whether he is able to take his students towards the right perspective as active learners. A well built lesson plan keeps him confident and comfortable because he has his objectives well fixed.

It also makes him to check the supporting activities along with the elements of Critical Thinking. It is a good driving device to keep all the students motivated and interested. A lesson without a methodical plan makes the students passive. Students lose interest and thus the class turns monotonous and chaotic. A well-designed plan makes the teacher a good classroom manager. When the students are deeply involved in learning, they don’t have time to misbehave. This is all possible with a well made lesson plan. Though our experience enables us to plan the steps of our lessons mentally, a concrete plan in black and white is essential to evaluate the progress of our lesson, ourselves as teachers, and our students. Especially in the case of a CLT class with student – centered activities, a carefully planned lesson plan assumes greater importance.

What should go into a lesson plan? Yes. Traditionally we talk about objectives, procedure and a conclusion. But we must not forget that our lesson has several things to offer to our students. My experience as a participant in a CTS (Critical Thinking Skills – ELT) Training Programme from Oregon University made me realize and learn various aspects of a lesson plan. A good lesson plan, apart from the topic, level of the students and duration of the lesson, to teach Communicative ability and Critical Thinking skills should have:

a.       Overarching Goal of the Lesson
b.      Prerequisites (These are assumptions we are making about our students’ skills, knowledge, and experience for this lesson.)    
c.       Instructional Objectives (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and Critical Thinking Strategies with Macro - micro abilities based on the steps and methods to present the lesson)
d.      Instructional Procedures (Opening of the Lesson , Closing and various steps in between with supporting material and activities)
e.       Assessment (Description of how we will determine the extent to which students have attained the (critical thinking) instructional objective(s))
f.       Follow-up Activities (Description of the activities that will be used to extend/reinforce the (critical thinking) components of this lesson (ex: homework, reviews, activities done in subsequent lessons, etc.), and which (critical thinking strategies) from the lesson will these follow-ups target?)
g.      Evaluation (to appraise the strengths and weaknesses of this lesson)
h.      Self-Assessment (our assessment of our teaching - process/technique for reflecting on our own teaching of this lesson)

As the focus of this plan is about improving Critical Thinking Skills, it has a greater focus on CT Strategies, which require a lot of training and more than that practice, to develop such a lesson plan. Apart from that, the remaining aspects are all the same.
Planning Lessons and Courses, a book by Tessa Woodward (2001) provides a step by step approach to lesson planning. These steps include
-          Who are the students?
-          How long is the lesson?
-          What can go into a lesson?
-          How do people learn and so how can we teach?
-          What can we teach with?
-          How can we vary the activities we do?
-          Getting down to the preparation?
-          What are our freedoms and restraints? ( Woodward, 2001:viii –xiv)

A good lesson plan with communicative activities and focus on language skills must have the following:

a.      Learner Objectives: b.Language Skills (L/S/R/W) : c.Grammar Focus:
d. Materials: e.Preparation: f.Presentation: g.Practice: h.Evaluation : 
and i.Expansion:

After finalizing the selection of the topic and the target audience, the Teacher/instructor has to frame the objectives of the lesson very carefully. The objectives should include the teaching procedures along with the expected outcome of the lesson. We also need to observe which language skill –Listening / Speaking / Reading / Writing is going to be focused; because the activities related to one particular skill may vary from the other. Then the teacher also has to workout the grammar aspect that requires special focus. To avoid ambiguity, the teacher must not take several aspects of grammar for presentation. Then we need to list out the materials selected for the presentation of the lesson – black/white board, chalk, markers, charts, cards,handouts/worksheets/text books etc.,
The next step is to focus on the most important parts of the lesson plan – namely Preparation, Presentation, Practice, Evaluation and Expansion.

We have to note down the techniques and methods we take up or plan to prepare the students for the class. We can elicit their existing knowledge of the topic by using a K-W-L chart.

(What we) Know
(What we want to)Want to Know
(What we have) Learned

We can use discussions, questions, authentic materials, pictures or previous homework/assignment to review and to elicit their knowledge. Instead of the teacher recapping the lesson, he/she can use the eliciting technique to promote speaking activity.

            The presentation part should include the linguistic or topical content of the lesson and relevant learning strategies. We also need to describe the target vocabulary, target grammar, teacher presentation, student work etc and also the Learner  Centered Activities like  Brainstorming, Mind mapping, Think – Pair – Share (TPS) Activities, Info-Gap Activities, and Worksheets /exercises etc, under the Presentation part. Presentation provides the language input that gives students the foundation for their knowledge of the language. The input may be from the instructor or from the text books. Even while using Content-based text, the instructor can focus on the language/grammar aspect by using content only as support to sustain interest.

            An important part of the presentation is the structured output, in which the students practice the form presented by the instructor. In structured output, accuracy of performance is important and though it is not truly communicative, it makes the learners comfortable to produce language items that are introduced recently or in the previous classes.

            In the next part, i.e, the Practice part, the presentation - focus shifts from the instructor to the learner.  The instructor should carefully choose/design relevant activities to promote communication using the structured output. He/she also should observe the activity closely and record observations whether the chosen activity is communicative, interesting and productive. We have to take time to plan the Follow-Up activities that reinforce the learning of the students. 

As the learners are involved, they get busy with the task assigned to them. The learners work in pairs or in small groups on a topic based task with a specific outcome. The teacher monitors and helps the students and acts as a resource, as a facilitator. He /She also ensures that the target language is used during the completion of tasks.

            Surprisingly the structured output of the Presentation part becomes a communicative output and the class will be abuzz with noise - the productive noise of the students. The criterion of success is when the learner succeeds in his/her learning and gets the message across.

            Our next part is Evaluation. Evaluation enables the instructor to monitor individual student comprehension and learning, and also to observe the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson, the progress of the lesson, student responses, the need for changing the steps/activities of the lesson plan, and finally the outcome. It helps to reinforce the linguistic or topical content that is presented in the class. Under this part, we have to plan about the strategies we will take up to ensure the learning of the students. We have to listen, observe and document the participation of the students in the class. Our follow up activities also help us to evaluate their learning.

            Under Expansion, we can plan for assignments or project-work to allow the students to apply the knowledge outside the classroom also. They should be practical and realistic and must build confidence among learners. Expansion activities also help us to evaluate and assess the teaching – learning process.

            The following Teacher Self-Reflection Checklist (  will help us to evaluate our lesson planning:
  1. Do I provide students with exemplary models of oral and written language?
  2. To what extent does my questioning foster critical and creative thinking?
  3. Do I encourage students' questions and curiosity?
  4. Do I encourage students to rethink, reorganise and refine their oral and written ideas?
  5. Am I encouraging students to listen and respond to the remarks of their peers during large and small groups discussions?
  6. Am I providing sufficient opportunity and time for students to work independently, in pairs and in small groups?
  7. Do I collaboratively structure language and learning experiences with students?
  8. Does my classroom environment encourage students to take risks during speaking and writing activities?
  9. Do I provide a variety of resources and experiences to meet the needs of all students?
    To what extent do I assist students in setting purposes for reading, in relating material to previous experiences, and in constructing meaning from printed text?
  10. Do I encourage and enable students to access and use a wide variety of resources?
  11. Do classroom resources reflect fair, equitable and accurate portrayals of peoples of different cultures, ages and genders?
  12. Am I aware of how culture and gender influence students' interaction and communication styles?
  13. Do Students see me as one who appreciates and enjoys reading and writing?
  14. To what extent are my assessment techniques fair and appropriate for evaluating progress and for making instructional decisions?
And with a slight modification the same checklist can be extended to evaluate the effectiveness of a lesson plan in a CLT class:
1      Does the lesson plan emphasise learning to communicate through interaction in the target language? And how?
2     Does the lesson plan introduce authentic texts into learning situation?And how?
3     Does the lesson plan provide opportunities for learners to focus not only on the language but also on the learning process itself? And how?
4     Does the lesson plan enhance the learner’s own personal experience as important, contributing element to classroom learning? And how?
5     Does the lesson plan attempt to link classroom language learning with language activation outside the classroom? And how?
6     Does the lesson plan incorporate learner activities that include                                1) an information gap, 2) a choice and 3) feedback? And how? And how?
7     Does the lesson plan provide for more student talk and less teacher talk, where teacher serves as a facilitator? And how?
The lesson plan for a CLT class should promote communication through interesting interactive games and activities. The teacher also has to keep in mind the Student Talk time and Teacher Talk Time ratio.
            A quick look at the Lesson Evaluation Sheet (prepared during the CLT workshop, Hyderabad) will make us realize the intricacies involved in planning for a CLT lesson.

Observations (Yes/No)
Lesson Preparation
a)      Clear objectives?
b)      Well planned?
c)      Realistic

Lesson Presentation
a)      Teacher Talk Time: Student Talk Time
b)      Eliciting?
c)      Dealing with Activities?


Classroom Management
a)      Clear instructions?
b)      Time management?
c)      Class monitoring?

Classroom Atmosphere
a)      All Ss actively involved?
b)      T encourages Ss?
     c)  Student -Friendly?
     d)   T sensitive to Ss’

As teachers we need to remember that we must take time to build effective lesson plans. Our lesson plan must outline clearly the roles that should be played by the teachers and students in the class. It is a kind of screenplay. It should also mention the timeline – the time allotted for preparation, presentation, practice activities and evaluation. The instructor should realize the objectives and design activities to promote meaningful communication. The activities need to correspond with the objectives to make the learners retain information in an active way. An effective lesson plan helps both the teachers and the students to move in a correct direction. If we fail to plan, we need to plan for our failure.              
  1. Nunan, D. “ Communicative Tasks and the Language Curriculum”, TESOL Quarterly, 25.2(summer1991): 279-295
  2. Richards,Jack C and Theodore Rodgers.2001. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Second Edition, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Woodward, T.(2001). Planning Lessons and Courses. Oxford: OUP
Web resources

8.A Programme in English for Engineerng Students
with Emphasis on Problem Solving

Assistant Professor,
Department of English,
Dr YSR College of Engineering and Technology,
Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur.

This paper undertakes to highlight the problem-solving approach adopted by Dr YSR college of Engineering and Technology, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Nagarjuna Nagar, in the English language programmes with the prospect of this experiment being accepted as a possible model. It shows how best problems solving skills can be inculcated in the learners pertaining to   English language programmes. The paper also presents the results of a feedback questionnaire received from students in this regard.

The Eleventh Plan of India focuses on quality and employable education to more people and getting chances to study in world-class institutions. According to Daggubati Purandareswari (2008), Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development,  Indian educational system will have to be “restructured to impart competitive skills and capabilities of global standards”.

Problem-solving Skills

Keeping abreast with the changed paradigm in the job market, many important changes have been incorporated.   Of these, problem-solving skill is considered to be a strategic tool nowadays. Industries are spending a lot of time and money to promote the managerial skills, technical skills and interpersonal skills of their employees. Problem-solving is one of the key areas that comes under technical skills.

Problem-solving requires a range of critical thinking skills from identification, description and analysis to synthesis and evaluation. It also requires understanding of the theoretical principles and governing frameworks behind classification of the problem and application of the solution method. The students need to understand and be able to explain what it is that you are doing as you proceed to solve the problems. The common stages of problem solving are:

• Identification, • Classification • Transformation • Substitution and • Comparison

Problem-solving exam questions are favored in a range of disciplines from physics, engineering and mathematics to architecture, law and linguistics. In problem-solving questions the students may be asked to propose and justify a programme of action to address a specified situation, or to develop a reasoned explanation based on data analysis. The programme has been evolved in first B.Tech with Strategies in Communication in listening, speaking, reading and writing, the programme concentrates on Technical Communication Skills in coming semester. This helps the students to make effective presentation and writing reports and projects.

Programme Objectives

The objectives of the Programme are listed out:

·         To provide the learners with the basic strategies for day-to-day communication this is general in nature,
·         To make the learners, who are students of Engineering and Technology, understand the basics and the importance of Technical Communication
·         To enhance their ability in listening comprehension by making they understand the listening process, the barriers and so on and by giving training in listening.
·         To train them in Professional speaking by imparting the knowledge of the various speech/presentation situations they have to face as technical students and as professionals later.
·         To equip them with the professional writing skills by giving training in writing various writing tasks like reports, proposals, projects, business memos/e-mails, user manuals and product descriptions etc. and the technicalities of writing like editing and proof reading, referencing and so on.

The Programme Structure-Strategies in Communication

·         Special Applications of Grammatical Elements in Science and Technology (like impersonal passive, disambiguating sentences and tightening of the rambling sentences to gain clarity etc.)
·         Speech Practice (Formal & Informal Interactions) – meant for classroom practice and Internal Assessment.
·         Writing – Official and Business Letters, Discourse based writing such as definition, description, comparison and contrast, narration, argument etc.
·         Seminar Teaching Methodology, The teaching methodology being adopted includes: peer/pair discussions, small/large group discussions and seminar presentations. An interactive method of teaching is being followed. Sentence level teaching and explanation is being avoided and a paragraph is considered a unit of discourse for teaching and discussion.

Assessment and Evaluation

It goes without saying that the efficacy of the programme has to be measured  with certain tests and examinations which are instinct with validity and reliability. The following testifies them:

1        Five short passages are given and the examinees are asked to identify and explain:
o   Flow of Communication – Downward/Upward/Lateral and Horizontal
o   Levels of Communication – Interpersonal/Organizational/Mass
o   Nature of Communication – General and Technical

1        Five items of reference are given and the examinees are asked to present them in the appropriate pattern/format, arranged in alphabetical order.
2        A passage with a few errors is given and the examinees are asked to edit and proof read using appropriate symbols and also asked to rewrite the correct version of the passage.
3        A passage of verbal description is given and examinees are asked to transcend the same into a visual representation using appropriate graphics or given a chart/figure/diagram they are asked to transcend the same into verbal description.
4        Some specifications are given and examinees are asked to write a User Manual/Product Description for a particular product.
5        Certain details are given and  the examinees are asked to write a memo/e-mail message. They are also asked to write a report or proposal making use of the details furnished.

The learners’ mastery is being assessed objectively and the scores of the formative tests and end examination are taken into account for the award of final grades in the ratio of 50:50.

Feedback from Students

In order to collect the views of the students who are the ultimate stakeholders of the programmes, the researcher conducted a survey on 60 students of I year B. Tech classes of Dr YSR college of Engineering and technology, Acharya Nagarjuna University. A questionnaire with six close-ended questions with a three point scale was used for the survey. The questions were intended to elicit their responses on the usefulness of the programme. The responses were collated, tabulated and percentage analysis was carried out. The analysis of each item is shown under:

1.      92% of the respondents averred that the programme is either “very relevant” or “relevant”
2.      91% of the respondents stated that the content of the programme is either “highly adequate” or “fairly adequate”.
3.      50.33% responded that the distribution of Theory/Practical is “even”.
4.      88.11% opined that the syllabus distribution and coverage is “satisfactory”.
5.      86.66% stated that they like the programme.
6.      92% of the respondents are of the view that the programme helps them to develop problem-solving skills (18% - Very Much; 70% - Reasonably)


From the statistical analysis made of student’s feedback, it is clear that over 90% of the students favoured the programme. Thus, it is established that the programme very well serves the intended objectives of promoting the critical thinking and problem solving skills of the students of engineering programmes.

The Learning Outcome

Thus the English Department of Dr YSR college of Engineering and technology, Acharya Nagarjuna University has been trying to address the lack of communicative, analytical and problem solving skills by introducing certain new elements in the curriculum, necessary modifications in the teaching methodology and testing and evaluation system. The learning outcome of the two programmes in English which are taught during I year of the B.Tech programmes offered at the university is very encouraging. Not only has the performance in the classroom and examination of English, but their participation in the learning of other subjects touched pleasing notes. The feedback of the students also confirms the same.

Concluding Remarks

The programme, by being different form usual, hones not only the communicative skills of the learners but also the creative, analytical as well as problem-solving skills. The learners find the programme interesting as well as useful. The teachers, while instructing  and evaluating are able to identify the keen interest shown by the students on the programme and the desirable outcome. Dr YSR College of Engineering and technology, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Nagarjuna Nagar, experiments in redesigning the English programmes as communication skills programmes with definite emphasis on learning rather than teaching has brought about changes in the syllabus, methodology and evaluation. This in turn has contributed to the development of problem solving skills among students


1.         “Problem Solving in Exams.” Exam. Wing, University of Melbourne:
2.         Purandareswari, Duggubati. 2008. “Aim to Provide Employable Education.” Hyderabad: Hindu, Education Plus. Jan. 21, 2008

9. A Critique of ELT Methods

Dr. T.R.Shashipriya
Lecturer in English
Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Technology
Near Jnana Bharati

The English language teaching tradition has undergone a tremendous change throughout the 20th century. The tradition has been practiced in various ways in the language class rooms all around the world. Yet there are some mile-stones in the development of this tradition which reveals the importance of the research in the selection and implementation of optimal methods and techniques for language teaching and learning. When we go back to 17th, 18th, 19th centuries language learning was associated with the learning of Latin and Greek that promoted speakers’ intellectuality. At the same time there was vital importance to the grammatical rules, syntactic structures along with memorization of vocabulary and translation of literary texts.English language teaching was started under the classical method [Grammar translation method], direct method. The audio lingual method, the notional method, strategy based instruction and communication language teaching method.  ELT adopts methods that are interesting and rewarding. The teacher has to create healthy methods where the students should feel at ease to learn the language. Fun learning games also help out the teaching of a language in an enjoyable way. The grammar translation approach, the reading approach, communicating language learning functional-notional approach and the silent way are some other methods in teaching English language. The methodology also speaks about theory and practice.

There is a distinction between methods and approaches where in methods have fixed teaching systems with prescribed techniques and practices where as approach is language teaching philosophies that can be interpreted and applied in different ways in the class room. Though there is a difference, they are considered nearly the same in teaching a language. Whatever be the country he hails from, the teacher of English has to follow some basic guidelines to teach the language. They are:

1.      Use of non-verbal cues-This covers facial expressions & hand gestures
2.      Use of visual aids: - A picture is always worth a thousand words, visual aids help the teacher to teach from vocabulary to prepositions. It has instructional advantages and keeps the learners interesting.
3.      Putting students into groups: - Here students are given a topic and they feel free to discuss with friends and practice rather than with a teacher. The groups should be limited to 3to5 people.

4.      Use of bi-lingual materials: - If the teacher speaks the same language as of the student, the situation will be greatly simplified. When the teacher cannot, he/she can use the bi-lingual materials to help the students to draw attention on the students’ native language.
5.      Repeat and Rephrase: - Teachers should make repetition of what they teach (at least three times). During the repetition the words can vary from the first version to the other. This increases the words, phrases & vocabulary of the student though the topic discussion is the same. Through repetition the student feels it easy to understand the concept as it will be difficult to understand at the first instance itself.
6.      Don’t overcorrect: - The students will be using the language hesitatingly and when it is corrected again & again, they stop talking in the language. Correction should be done at appropriate times and smoothly also.
7.      Create a safe atmosphere: - Learning English as a second language is a tough job for a   student. He feels self conscious due to the inability and will be reluctant to use it.

Therefore, the teacher should create an amiable atmosphere that encourages and supports the student to experiment with the language.
Methodology in language teaching links both theory and practice. Theory Statements speak of those that state a language is and how language is learned. Such theories include stated objectives, syllabus specification, types of activities, and roles of teachers, learners & materials. Methodology is a fixed teaching system with prescribed techniques and practices. But approach represents language teaching Philosophies that can be applied in various ways in the classroom. During the period from 1950 to 1980, a number of language teaching methods were proposed and it was called ‘The Age of Methods’. Methods like situational Language Teaching (SLT), Audio-lingualism, Silent Way, Suggestopedia, Community Language Learning, Total Physical Response etc. were put in practice. Among these, some methodology see the teacher as ideal language model and commander of classroom activity (e.g., Audio-Lingual Method, National Approach, Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response) where as others see the teacher as background facilitator and classroom colleague to the learners (e.g., Communicative Language Teaching, Co-operative Language Learning). In 1980s these methods were overshadowed by more interactive views of language teaching which came to be known as Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). This method has a broad set of principles such as: -

1)      Learners learn a language through using it to Communicate.
2)      Authentic and meaningful communication should be the goal of classroom activities.
3)      Fluency is an important dimension of communication.
4)      Communication involves the integration of different language skills.
5)      Learning is a process, a creative construction and involves trial and error. Communicative Language Teaching has the inclusion of The National approach, Co-operative Language Learning, Content - based teaching and Task-Based Teaching.

Grammar Translation Method - The methods as discussed earlier are various. The first and foremost is the classical method that can be known as Grammar Translation Method. This method was historically used in teaching Greek and Latin in the 17th, 18th and 19th century to promote their speakers’ intellectuality. Later on it generalized to teaching modern languages. This method offered grammatical rules attending the process of translating from the second to the native language. It is one of the most popular and favorite models of language teaching. The classes are taught in the students’ mother tongue, with little active use of the target language. Vocabulary is taught in the form of isolated word lists. Grammar is elaborated with explanations, the rules to put words together, focus on the form and infection of words are provided through this method. Texts are not paid attention but only the exercises in grammatical analysis are discussed and the sentences are translated into mother tongue and vice versa and pronunciation is not given importance.

The Direct Method - The method was a reaction to the grammar- translation method where target language is given more importance in the instruction. Dialogues have a prominent role in teaching with the modern conversational style. The usage of mother tongue is totally absent and so no way for any type of translation. The questions & answers are always in the target language. Grammar is taught with practice and experience to bring understanding of the language. The method helps the learner to have mastery of the target language. Literature in this method is read for comprehension and pleasure. The culture associated with the target language is taught inductively and it is considered as an important aspect of learning the language. In short the principles of the direct method are: -

·         Classroom instruction is conducted in the target language.
·         There is an inductive approach to grammar.
·         Only everyday vocabulary is taught.
·         Concrete vocabulary is taught through pictures and objects, while abstract vocabulary is taught by association of ideas.

The Direct method though gained popularity at the end of 19th century, in the beginning of 20th century; it was difficult due to the constraints of budget, time and classroom size. This slowly led to the arrival of Audio lingual Method.

Audio-lingual Method - This method is based on the principles of behavior psychology. Many principles and procedures of the direct method are adapted here. The main reason for the outbreak of this method is the onset of World War II that made the Americans become orally proficient in the language of their allies and enemies alike. The new method was first named as “Army Method” which came to be known as Audio lingual Method in the 1950s.

            New material in this method is presented in the form of a dialogue. Language learning is a habit formation and this method therefore fosters dependence on mimicry, memorization of set phrases and over-learning. Structures are sequenced and taught one at a time. Structural patterns are taught using repetitive drills. Grammar is taught without any explanations and skills like: listening, speaking, reading and writing are sequenced and developed in order. Vocabulary is strictly limited and learned in context. There is abundant use of language laboratories, tapes and visual aids. At the beginning of the course, there is an extended pre-reading period and great importance is given to precise native-like pronunciation. Only the teacher is permitted to use the mother tongue when and where necessary but not the students. Great care is taken to prevent learner errors.

Community Language Learning - This methodology is patterned upon counseling techniques and adapted to the peculiar anxiety and threat as well as the personal and language problems a person comes across while learning a foreign language. The learner is considered as a client rather than a student and instructors are language counselors. The counseling begins with the client’s linguistic confusion and conflict. The counselor first communicates with a clear understanding of the client’s state and helps him linguistically. Then slowly the counselor strives to enable him to arrive at his own increasingly independent language adequacy. The counselor shows his ability to establish a warm understanding and accepting relationship by becoming an ‘other language self’ for the client.

The client adapts himself by becoming totally dependent on the language counselor. In the beginning whatever he expresses, is done in English (target language) to the counselor.  Others over hear it. The counselor reflects it to the others in a warm accepting tone and then allows the client to speak. In the later stages the client begins to speak directly to the group and help is given only when necessary.  Then the crowd or group is directly addressed and the simple words understood by the crowd increases the confidence in the client. Slowly he learns and speaks freely and complexly by pursuing group’s understanding. At the stage the counselor intervenes in grammatical error, mispronunciation and where aid in complex expression is needed. Along with it usage of idioms and more elegant constructions are added to bring complete confidence in the client. At this stage the client is able to teach the initial stages to others also.

The Silent Way - This way was characterized by a problem solving approach to learning. The teacher is supposed to be silent and hence the name of the method. Here the use of vernacular is avoided. In this method one can create simple linguistic situations that remain under the complete control of the teacher. The learners are given total responsibility of what they describe, and the teacher concentrates on what the students say and the way they say it. Then he can draw the students’ attention to the differences in pronunciation and the flow of words. The teacher can also generate a serious game-like situation where in the rules are implicitly agreed upon by giving meaning to the gestures of the teacher and his mime. Components of pitch, timber and intensity that will constantly reduce the impact of one voice will be learnt through this method. Imitation of the teacher will be reduced and personal production of one’s own brand of the sounds will be encouraged. The materials used for this method are a set of colored wooden rods, a set of wall charts containing words of a ‘functional’ vocabulary and some additional ones, a pointer, tapes or discs as required, films, drawings and pictures, book of stories and work sheets.

Communicative Language Teaching - The demand for communication has been relentless and this leads to the communicative language teaching. After a lot of research it is decided that teaching communication is better through actual communication but not merely theorizing about it.  Through this method students learn grammar and vocabulary through context. They also learn English in a way that allows them to use the language in real life. And English students learn by complete immersion by studying with native English speakers. Translation does not have any provision; students compulsorily speak with their teacher and friends in English only. Lessons in this method include pair or group work activities and there is a strong emphasis on self correction and peer correction.

Fun Learning Games - Teaching English grammar can be hard going for the teacher as well as the students. So English grammar can be taught by using fun learning games. This has been a movement away from the traditional methods of teaching English grammar through writing, re-writing and work sheets. This way can be a more active approach through games as students will be more willing.  As Arif Saricoban and Esen Metin say “Games and problem solving activities which are task based and have a purpose behind the production of correct speech, are the examples of the most preferable communicative activities.”(Teaching Grammar with Fun Learning Games:98). According to them grammar games help children not only gain knowledge but be able to apply and use that learning. Throughout the activity the students absorb the language subconsciously.  Repetition of it will make them more perfect. One can see cooperation and competition in the classroom. It adds excitement which creates bonding among students and teacher.  Grammar games involve all the students simultaneously.

Functional-Notional Method - This method stresses a means of organizing a language syllabus. The emphasis is on breaking down the global concept of language into units of analysis in terms of communicative situations in which they are used. Notions are meaning elements that may be expressed through nouns, pronouns, verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, adjectives or adverbs. The use of particular notions depends on three major factors:1. The functions 2. The elements in the situation and 3. The topic being discussed

A situation may affect variations of language such as the use of dialects, the formality or informality of the language and the mode of expression. A language has five functional categories where in the speaker can express his:-

1.         Personal feelings like thoughts, love, joy, pleasure, happiness, surprise, likes, dislikes, distress, pain, anger ,anxiety, sorrow, frustration, etc.,
2.         Inter personal feelings which establish and maintain social and working relationships, like greetings and leave takings, Introducing people to others, Identifying oneself to others, expressing joy and concern for other people, extending and accepting invitations, refusing invitations politely, making appointments for meetings, excuses indicating agreement and disagreement, interrupting another speaker politely, receiving visitors, offering food or drinks, sharing wishes, hopes, desires, problems, making promises, complimenting someone and expressing and acknowledging gratitude.
3.         Attempting to influence the action of others or the directive words like making suggestion in which speaker is included, making requests, making suggestion, persuading someone to change his point of view, requesting and granting permission, forbidding someone to do something, issuing a command, warning someone establishing guidelines and deadlines for the completion of actions and asking for directions or instructions.
4.         Talking or reporting about things, actions, and events in all tenses is called referential. Here one can learn identifying items or people in the classroom, the school, the home, the community, asking for a description of someone or something, defining something or a language item or asking for a definition, paraphrasing, summarizing, translating, explanation, comparing and contrasting, discussing possibilities, probabilities, capabilities of doing something, requesting or reporting facts about events or actions and evaluating the results of an action or event.

5.         Imaginative discussions involve elements of creativity and artistic expressions like, discussing a poem a story, a piece of music, a play, a painting, a film, a T.V program expanding ideas suggested by other or by a piece of literature or reading material , creating rhymes poetry, stories, plays, recombining familiar dialogues, passages creatively suggesting original beginning or ending to stories or dialogues and solving problems mysteries.
Whatever may be the learning method or teaching method student should learn grammar points and have ability to use them in real life situations. Practice is necessary for all these. Students should be encouraged to use context, to find the definition of words and phrases and also speak the language as much as possible.  Many subscribe to the point that the only way to learn the language is to speak the language very often.  It is like learning to drive a vehicle.  Children usually learn their own language, reach the age when the enter grammar school, and get fluency in the language.  The most important thing to remember is to speak English very frequently and not let the fear of making mistakes deter them from using the language.

Arif Saricoban and Esen Metin    ( 2008). Teaching Grammar and Fun Games.     New York: Oxford University Press.

Geetha Nagaraj, “English Language Teaching – Approaches, Methods, Techniques”, Orient Longman Private Limited, Hyderabad, 2008.

Zohreh Eslami – Rakesh, “Raising the pragmatic awareness of Language learners”, E. L. T. Journal, Volume 59, Number 3, July, 2005, pp. 199- 208.



10. Communicative Needs in  Foreign Language Learning

K. L. Chamundeswari Devi
M. A., M. Phil, Lecturer in English  
S. R. R. & C. V. R. Govt. Degree College

Dr. Sasi Bala Ph.D.
Reader in English, Govt. Degree College,
 Guntur, A. P. 

The theme of language and the learner’s communicative needs is a familiar one in language teaching. In recent years, applied linguistics has been revitalized by attempts to describe how language reflects its communicative uses, and by demonstrations of how syllabus design and methodology can respond to the need for communicative uses of language in classrooms and teaching materials. By considering some central aspects of communication, this paper attempts to contribute to our general understanding of how language use reflects underlying communicative needs. Five assumptions about the nature of verbal communication will be discussed, namely, that communication is meaning-based, conventional, appropriate, interactional, and structured. These will be discussed in relation to the communicative needs of second or foreign language learners.                        

1.  Communication is meaning- based:
Let us begin by examining basic ‘survival’ language needs, those, for example, of a learner who has an active vocabulary of perhaps two hundred words, a minimal knowledge of the syntax of English, but who is  in a situation where English is required for simple and basic communicative purposes. The most immediate need is to be able to refer to a core of basic ‘referents’ or things in the real world,  that is, to be able to name things, states, events, and attributes, using the words he or she knows.  In addition, the learner must be able to link words together to make predictions, i.e. to express propositions. 

Propositions are the building blocks of communication, and the first task in learning to communicate in a language is to learn how to create propositions. Language is comprehensible to the degree that hearers are able to reconstruct propositions from the speaker’s utterances. When the child says ‘hungry’ to its mother, the mother understands           ‘I am hungry’; form ‘no hungry’ the mother understands the child’s message as being            ‘I don’t want to eat’.  From these examples we see that sentences do not have to be complete or grammatical for their propositional meaning to be understood.  We often make good sense of a speaker who uses very broken syntax, just as we can understand a message written in telegraphese, e.g. no money send draft.

            Sentences may contain more than one proposition.  The girl picked the red flower contains the propositions the girl picked the flower, and the flower is red.  Sentences may refer to the same proposition but differ in what they say about it.  The following sentences all refer to the proposition  John married Mary, but differ in what they say about it:

          When did John marry Mary?
          Why did John and Mary get married?
          Mary and John have been married for ages.

‘Survival level’ communication in a foreign language, however, implies more than the construction of propositions. Speakers use propositions in utterances in a variety of ways.  They may wish to ask a question about a proposition, affirm a proposition, deny or negate a proposition, or express an attitude towards a proposition. They may use propositions to communicate meanings indirectly, as when the speaker says I’m thirsty but means I’d like a  glass of water, the latter being the ‘illocutionary but means I’d like a glass of water, the latter being the ‘illocutionary effect’ the speaker intends. Now, while the adult native speaker of English can use the resources of adult syntax to encode propositions in the appropriate grammatical form and to communicate a wide range of illocutionary meanings, the beginning foreign language learner finds that the demands of communication often exceed his or her knowledge of the grammar of English.  The learner’s immediate priority is to work out a way of performing such operations as stating, affirming, denying, or questioning propositions, as economically as possible, using only a partial knowledge of the vocabulary and syntax of the target language.  Here the learner has similar needs to the child who is learning its mother tongue. Child language can be used to express complex meanings within the limit of a restricted grammatical system. ‘Mother talk’ - that variety of speech which mothers use when talking to young children- is simplified to make propositions and illocutionary intentions more readily identifiable.  Mothers’ questions to children, for example, contain far more ‘Yes- No’ questions than “Wh’ questions, because propositions are more readily identifiable in “Yes-No’ questions. 

How do foreign language learners communicate meaning when they lack the fully elaborated grammatical and discourse system of the target language?  To answer this question, let us consider how a learner might try to express the meanings contained in the following sentences. 

          John ought to have come on time.
          I regret I wasn’t able to get to your class on time. 
          I can’t afford to buy that dress.

One strategy learners adopt in communicating complex meanings like this is to ‘bring propositions to the surface’ by expressing meanings and intentions directly rather than indirectly, and by expressing lexically aspects of meaning that in the target language are coded in the auxiliary system in complex clauses, or by grammatical devices. The first sentence, for example, implies the proposition John came late, and communicates the speaker’s attitude towards this proposition.  The meaning is roughly Speaker disapprove that John came late.  This could be communicated by saying:

          ‘Why John late?’ (said with non-approving intonations), or, 
          ‘John late.  That bad’.

(The distinction between propositions which are expressed, and those which are presupposed, is an important one, but will not be pursued further here.)  The second sentence contains the proposition I am late, together with the speaker’s expression of regret. It might be communicated by saying:
          ‘I am late.  So sorry.’
I can’t afford to buy that dress contains the propositions.  

          The dress is expensive.  I don’t have enough money to buy the dress.
It could be restated:
          ‘The dress expensive.  Cannot buy.’ or 
          ‘Can’t buy the dress. No money.’

This type of ‘restructuring’ is seen in the following examples, in which utterances in simplified learner syntax are compared with standard adult grammar.

Simplified utterances
Equivalent in standard adult syntax
1.  Mary lazy.  No work hard.
Mary can work hard if she wants to.
2.  Tomorrow I give money.
You will have your money tomorrow, I promise.
3.  You no money.  I lend you. 
I will lend you some money if you need any.
4.  This way.  See the map.
According to the map, this ought to be the way.
5.  One day I go England.
I would like to go to England some day.

Teachers too often resort to the type of language on the left in communicating with speakers of limited language proficiency. The following examples were produced by teachers who are native speakers of English. 

  1. A teacher is explaining the meaning of wash: ‘In your house, you… a tub… you (gestures) wash.’
  2. Here a teacher is explaining how to take telephone messages: ‘I want to speak other person.  He not here.  What good thing for say now?’
  3. A teacher explaining an interview procedure produced.  ‘Not other student listen.  I no want.  Necessary you speak.  May be I say what is your name.  The writing not important.’
  4. And here is a teacher reminding her students to bring their books to class: ‘The book … we have…(hold up book)… book is necessary for class.  Right … necessary for school.  You have book.’

The examples above illustrate a linguistic system which can be sued for communication basic propositional meanings.  Such a system is known as ‘child language’ when it is produced by infants learning their mother tongue, ‘inter-language’ when it is produced by foreign-language learners, ‘teacher talk’ when it is used by teachers, and ‘foreign talk’ when it is produced by native speakers communicating with foreigners.  The linguistic system behind this type of communication is one which uses a basic ‘notional- functional’ core of vocabulary items, a syntax which depends on simple word order rules (such as negating by placing the negative word in front of the proposition), and in which the communication of meaning is not dependent on grammatical systems of tense or aspect, auxiliaries, function words, or plural morphemes, etc.

The ability to use such a communicative system is crucial in the first stage of foreign language learning.  We should consequently be tolerant of grammatical ‘errors’ from learners who are at this stage.  They should not attempt active communication too soon, however.  Before the learner is ready to begin speaking a foreign language, he or she should have a vocabulary of at least two hundred words and a feel for the basic word order rules of the target language.  The learner needs to develop a feel for the system of basic work order (in English: subject predicate sentence order, adverb and adjectival positions, negation, question formation, etc.).  When speaking is taught, the initial goal should be the production of comprehensible utterances through expressing basic propositional meanings and illocutionary intentions.

2.  Communication is conventional:
While much of the learner’s efforts in speaking a foreign language centre on developing the vocabulary and syntax needed to express propositional meanings, it is native-speaker syntax and usage that is ultimately the learner’s goal.  As language acquisition proceeds, the learner revises his or her ideas about how propositions are expressed in English.  The learner’s syntax becomes more complex as his or her knowledge of negation, the auxiliary system, questions, word order, embedding, conjoining, etc., expand.  In short, the learner begins to develop grammatical competence. 

Both linguistics and applied linguistics in recent years have emphasized the creative properties of grammatical systems. Language users were said to possess, as part of their grammatical competence, the ability to produce an infinite number of sentences, most of which are novel utterances.  The learner’s task was thought to be to ‘internalize’ the rules needed to generate ‘any and all’ of the possible grammatical sentences of English.  The primary aim of language teaching was to create opportunities for these grammatical abilities to develop in language learners. 

The fact is, however, that only a fraction of the sentences which could be generated by our grammatical competence are actually ever used in communication.  Communication largely consists of the use of language in conventional ways.  There are strict constraints imposed on the creative constructive capacities of speakers, and these limit how speakers encode propositional meanings.  In telling the time, for example, we can say, It’s two forty, or It’s twenty to three, but not It’s three minus twenty, It’s ten after two thirty, or It’s eight fives after twenty.  If I want you to post a letter for me I may say, Please post this letter for me, or Would you mind posting this letter for me, but I am unlikely to say, I request you to post this letter, or It is my desire that this letter be posted by you.  Although these sentences have been constructed according to the rules of English grammar, they are not conventional ways of using English.  While they are grammatically correct ‘sentences’, they have no status as potential ‘utterances’ within discourse, since they would never be used by native speakers of English. 

This considerably complicates the task of foreign language learning.  Once learners have progressed to the stage where they are beginning to generate novel utterances, they find that many of their utterances fail to conform to patterns of conventional usage, although they are undoubtedly English sentences. Constraints which requires speakers to use only utterances which are conventional affect both the lexical and grammatical structure of discourse. The constraints on lexical usage manifest themselves in idosyncracies and irregularities which particularly affect verb, noun, preposition and article usage, and are usually rationalized as ‘exceptions’ or ‘collocational restrictions’ in teachers’ explanations.

Thus teachers must explain that a pair of trousers refers to one item, but a pair of shirts to two, that we can speak of a toothache or a headache, but no a fingerache; that someone may be in church, but not in library.  Conventionalized language is seen in many other features of discourse.
For example:

  1. Conversational openers:  How are you?  may be used to open a conversation in English, but not Are you well? or Are you in good health?

  1. Routine formulae:  Some conventional forms are expressions whose use is limited to particular settings, such as Check, please, said when a bill is requested in a restaurant.

  1. Ceremonial formulae:  These are conventional phrases sued in ritualized interactions, such as After you, said as a way of asking someone to go ahead of you when entering a room, and How nice to see you, said on encountering a friend after an absence of some time.

  1. Memorized clauses:  The concept of conventionalized language usage may be applied to a broader class of utterances.  These are clauses which do not appear to be ‘uniquely generated’ or created anew each time they are required in discourse, but which are produced and stored as complete units.  Some examples are given below:

          Did you have a good trip?                   Please sit down.
          Is everything O. K.?                            Call me later. 
          Pardon me?                                          I see what you mean. 

They argue that speakers of a language regularly use thousands of utterances like these.  Unlike ‘novel’ utterances i.e., those which speakers put together from individual lexical items, these are ‘pre-programmed’ and run off almost automatically in speech production.  Researchers in second language acquisition have observed that language learners also often use conventional formulae and memorized clauses as crutches in order to make communication easier.  There is often a high frequency of them in their speech in the early stages of conversational competence.

The fact that language is conventional has important implications for language teaching. Firstly, it suggests that there is reason to be sceptical of the suggestion that language cannot be taught, but only ‘acquired’. Many of the conventionalized aspects of language usage are amenable to teaching.  Secondly, applied linguistic effort is needed to gather fuller data on such forms, through discourse analysis and frequency counts, for example, with a view to obtaining useful information for teachers, textbook writers, and syllabus designers.

3.  Communication is appropriate:      
Mastery of a foreign language requires more than the use of utterances which express propositional meanings and are conventional.  The form of utterances must also take into account the relationship between speaker and hearer, and the constraints imposed by the setting and circumstances in which the act of communication is taking place.  What’s your name?  is a conventional utterance, for example, but it is not an appropriate way of asking the identity of a telephone caller; in this case, May I know who is calling? is considered more appropriate. 

Communicative competence includes knowledge of different communicative strategies or communicative styles according to the situation, the task, and the roles of the participants.  For example, if a speaker wanted to get a match from another person in order to light a cigarette, he or she might take one of the following courses of action, according to his or her judgement of its appropriateness:

  1. Make a statement about his or her need: ‘I need a match.’
  2. Use an imperative: ‘Give me a match’.
  3. Use an embedded imperative: ‘Could you give me a match?’
  4. Use a permission directive: ‘May I have a match?.’
  5. Use a question directive: ‘Do you have a match?’
  6. Give a hint: ‘The matches are all gone, I see’.

Young children learning their mother tongue soon become skilled at using communicative strategies appropriately.  Thus, a child who wants something done may bargain, beg, name-call, or threaten violence in talking to other children; reason, beg, or make promises in talking to parents; or repeat the request several times, or beg, in talking to grandparents. 

4.  Communication is interactional:     
The use of  utterances which take appropriate account of the speaker’s and the hearer’s roles implies that conversation is often just as much a form of social encounter as it is a way of communicating meanings or ideas.  This may be described as the ‘interactional function’ of conversation.  It is the use of language to keep open the channels of communication between people and to establish a suitable rapport.  In any action, each actor provides a field of action for the other actors, and the reciprocity thus established allows the participants to exercise their interpersonal skills in formulating the situation, presenting and enacting a self or identity and using strategies to accomplish other interactional ends. 

We see evidence of this at many levels within conversations.  In the initial stages of conversation with a stranger, for example, speakers introduce uncontroversial topics into the conversation, such as the weather, the transport system, etc. These topics are carefully chosen so that there is a strong likelihood of mutual agreement. The raising of safe topics allows the speaker the right to stress his agreement with the hearer, and therefore to satisfy the hearer’s desire to be right or to be corroborated in his opinions. The weather is a safe topic for virtually everyone, as is the beauty of gardens, the incompetence of bureaucracies, etc.  These are examples of what has been called ‘phatic communication’. Communication as interaction is thus aimed largely at the need of speaker and hearer to feel valued and approved of.  If our conversation teaching materials primarily emphasize transactional skills, such as how to ask directions, how to order meal, etc., learners may not have the chance to acquire the interactional skills which are also an important component of communicative competence.      

5.  Communication is structured:    
The last aspect of communication is its ongoing organization.  This can be looked at from two perspectives; a ‘macro’ perspective which reveals the differences in rhetorical organization that reflect different discourse ‘genres’ or tasks; and a ‘micro’ perspective showing how some of the processes by which discourse is constructed out of individual utterances are reflected in speech. 

5.1 Task Structure:    
Communication consists of different genres of discourse, such as conversations, discussions, debates, descriptions, narratives, and instructions.  These different rhetorical tasks require the speaker to organize utterances in ways which are appropriate to that task.  When we tell a story, for example, we follow certain conventions.  Stories consist of a setting, followed by episodes.  The setting consists of statements in which time, place, and characters are identified.  Episodes consist of chains of events and conclude with reactions to events.  Most stories can be described as having a structure of this type, and it is this structure which gives them coherence.  Just as a sentence grammatical to the extent that it follows the norms of English word order and structure, so as story is coherent to the extent that it follows the norms of semantic organization which are used in English. 

5.2 Process Structure:
When we talk, much of our discourse is made up of words and phrases which indicate how what we are going to say relates to what has already been said.  For example, our reaction to an idea or opinion may be to expand it, to add something to it, to disagree with it, to substantiate it, to give a reason for it, or to explain it.  The following are examples of phrases or lexical items which may serve these or related functions. 

When it comes to that
Yes but
And another thing
Well may be
All  the same
In my case
As a matter of fact
All the same
To begin with
To give you an idea

These have been termed ‘conversational gambits’, and they signal directions and relations within discourse. Evidence suggests that these contribute significantly to an impression of fluency in conversation. Course materials are now available which focus on these aspects of conversational competence. They are inappropriate, however, if they are used too often or in the wrong places, as in the following example:
To my mind I’ll have another cup of coffee. 

6.  Conclusions:    
Theories about how we teach a foreign language reflect our view of the nature of language.  While it is no innovation to define language as a system of communication, the way the dynamics of the communicative process influence the form of verbal communication is seldom fully appreciated. ESL/EFL materials too often focus only on the finished products of communication, rather than on the processes by which people communicate.  A deeper understanding of the effects of communicative needs on non-native speaker discourse should make us more understanding of our students’ difficulties in using English, and happier with their partial successes. 

  1. References:

i.                    Nural Huda, “Teaching English to Indian Pupils”, Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi, 1992.
ii.                  Betty J. Frey, “Basic helps for Teaching English as a Second Language”, Palo Verde Publishing Inc, Tucson, Arizona, U. S. A., 1970.
iii.                S. Ramadevi, Rama Mathew et. al., “The E. L. T. Curriculum: Emerging Issues”, B. R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, 1992.
iv.                W. Stannard Allen, “Living English Structure”, Orient Longman Limited, Patna, 1997.
v.                  A.K.Paliwal, “Communicative Language Teaching in English”, Abhi Publications, Jaipur, India, 1996.
vi.                Geetha Nagaraj, “English Language Teaching – Approaches, Methods, Techniques”, Orient Longman Private Limited, Hyderabad, 2008.
vii.              Zohreh Eslami – Rakesh, “Raising the pragmatic awareness of Language learners”, E. L. T. Journal, Volume 59, Number 3, July, 2005, pp. 199- 208.

11.Techniques o English Language Teaching and Learning

Dr. Grace Indira, C.
Lecturer in English
St. Joseph’s College of Women
Dr. Vijaya Bharathi, D.
                                                                        St. Joseph’s College of Women

It may have happened so very quickly, within a few years but it has happened – English has become an international commodity, like oil and the microchip !  English language has made the world a global ‘village’.  It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s population knows English (i.e. fluent or reasonably competent).  Learning a language means learning the means by which a thought, an idea, an emotion, an experience, a fact or a piece of knowledge is conveyed or communicated.  In that sense, language is a medium or a tool and the mastery of a tool comes with practice in the use of it, therefore language is considered a ‘skill subject’ but not a content subject like History or Geography.  It is not by learning the history of a language or grammar or knowing the facts about the language that it can be mastered but by mastering the associated skills.  The four skills or abilities that comprise the mastery of a language are a) listening, b) speaking, c) reading and d) writing.  All the four go together and without these no language can be used effectively.  The four go in pairs which may be represented in terms of perceptive versus productive and the aural versus visual.

                           Listening                                                                     Speaking
Perceptive                       Pronunciation                         Productive
                           Reading                                                                       Writing


            Listening and reading are relatively passive or receptive or perceptive and the other two are active or productive.  In the context of teaching English in India, we have to prioritize the importance to be given to the four skills.  In the present day world, we find that communicative skills are demanded for employment purposes, in information technology, in electronic media, in meeting people and facing interviews.  In teaching English, all the four aspects are important because we can not teach speaking without listening and writing without reading.  But, it is possible to think of some limited aims in teaching the four skills, depending upon the purpose for which one learns English.

There is no doubt that students wish to learn English and, that when they begin, they come to the English lessons with more interest than they do for the other subjects. They know that, if they go home and show that their English is improving, their parents will be proud and pleased. This is most valuable to the teacher, but very often the initial eagerness fades and dies. It is killed by the dull lessons taught with a routine procedure or method.  The eagerness to learn, and the pleasure in making a progress will continue if the lessons are interesting, motivating and different.  Different teachers, will of course, perform different activities in order to bring variety and interesting changes of work into a lesson. Here is one sure way that can be used to keep the students interested and active, that is using different ‘techniques’ in the teaching – learning process.  These techniques make the students active participants.

It goes without saying that “Minds are like parachutes, they function only when they are open” (my emphasis). The language teachers should be open minded to make use of different techniques that suit their teaching.

What is a Technique ?

A technique represents implementation; it is the actual implementation of a method in the class room.  It is a particular way of doing things to accomplish an immediate objective.

Listening comprehension and fluent and accurate speaking skills are the principal objectives of these techniques. Many of these techniques could and probably should be accompanied by activities that also require the students to use the written language.  In many cases, appropriate reading and writing activities are suggested within the description of the technique.  So, all the language teaching techniques are designed primarily for improving the student’s basic language skills.

The format in which the following various techniques are presented is self – explanatory.  The intention is not to present any particular method of language teaching.  The language teacher is free to use any of these techniques to suit her / his teaching.

Techniques :

Ø  Ritual :           A ritual is a brief conversation. Usually it centers around a common everyday activity involving two people.  It is composed of short sentences with a very limited number of exchanges.
Purpose : To have the students memorize set phrases, sentence or sequences of sentences.

Example :       A : Excuse me teacher, do you mind if I make a call ?
                                    B : I am sorry, there is no chance of using mobile in the campus.
A : Oh! I didn’t know
               B : Don’t worry about it.

Repeat it two or three times using gestures, pictures, puppets etc. to help convey, the identity of the speaker and the meaning of the ritual.

Suggestions for writing a Ritual :
1)      Keep the lines short, not more than 8 – 10 words per line
2)      Keep the ritual short
3)      Avoid a three person ritual wherever possible
4)      Keep the conversation natural and colloquial.

Recitation : The students memorize a short series of sentences. The sentences are not intended to be recited verbatim in a real conversation.  Individual sentences within the recitation can be used.

Purpose : To provide the students with a string of sentences which will be the basis for a conversation that can be used to explain, describe or justify oneself to a native speaker.

Example :
My name ……………………..
I am from ……………………..
I am a ……………………..
I am …………………….. years old
I was born……………………..

            Some other topics like my family, my home town, my job, my daily / weekly / seasonal routines, personal interests and hobbies etc.

Ø  Narrative : A narrative is a short descriptive paragraph.  It is not intended to be conversational and it can not be memorized.  It contains several sentences strung together in a paragraph.

            Purpose : To use a narrative passage as a basis for practicing the language.  By talking about the passage, the students may also learn new vocabulary, and to some extent, grammatical features.

            Example : Winter in Vermont usually lasts five months.  It begins when the first snow falls.  Frequently the first snow – fall comes early in December, but occasionally the first snow comes before November.  The snow remains in the ground until April.  Winter is important to the economy of Vermont because thousands of people come to Vermont to ski.

Ø  Operation : The students perform and talk about a series of actions that are associated with a process such as operating a piece of equipment.

Purpose : To introduce vocabulary and practice grammatical constructions in the natural context.

            Example :    To use a cassette player / recorder.
                                 First, push the eject button.
                                 Then put the cassette in.
                                 To record, push the play and record buttons simultaneously.
                                 Push the stop button.
                                 Push the rewind button.
                                 To listen, push the play button.

Ø  Mini Drama : It tells a little story and frequently involves two or more people.
Purpose : To expose the students to colloquial languages in the form of a drama script.

            Example : In a village there lived a merchant.  He had a deaf friend.  This deaf friend heard that the merchant was ill.  So, he went to visit the merchant, one afternoon.  As he was deaf he could not hear the merchant’s words.  Now see the fun of their conversation.

Deaf man : How are you today my friend ?
Merchant : I have a bad fever.  I can’t sleep at night.
Deaf man : (smiled and said) Very good I hope God will keep you this way.  What do you eat?
Merchant : (Angrily) the dust of the earth.
Deaf man : That’s good for you and helps you.
                                 Who is your doctor ?
Merchant : (shouts) Doctor? Death himself.
Deaf man : Oh! That is fine.  God will help him with his work.
                                 And he returned home.

Ø  Spiel : This technique is similar to a narrative except that it is not written material, it is spoken and is created in the classroom. It resembles real speech more than a narrative does.

Purpose : To bring into the class room, spontaneous monologue that will serve as the basis for language practice.

Example : Use as many of these words as you can in a 30 second talk about your family.

Grand father
Grand mother
Living / alive
Married / single

Ø  Interview :      The students act as interviewer and one or more students act as
interviewees. The students should have a prepared list of questions.

Purpose :        To give the students the opportunity to listen to short pieces of
                                    authentic language in a controlled fashion.

            Example :       What is your favourite game?
                                    Why do you like ……………. ?
                                    Can you name some of your favourite players ?
                                    Have you ever seen the players ?
                                    Who is your favourite player ………… ?
                                    Can you play the game?
                                    In which area can you perform well ?

Ø  Construct Log : The students are given pieces of language (words, phrases and sentences) and asked to create a dialogue by using them.
Purpose : To involve the students directly in the language class by giving them an opportunity to write their own dialogues.

Example : Use the words and phrases below to construct a dialogue between a sick student and a teacher.
                                                You don’t need to use every word.
                                                hurt                  fever
                                                pain                 take a pill
                                                ache                 take temperature
                                                stomach           give an injection
                                                headache         make an appointment

Ø  Role Play :  There are a set of instructions that initiate a conversation. Usually a role - play is between the teacher and one or more students.
Purpose : To put the students into a realistic communication situation and to sharpen their listening comprehension skills.

            Example : You have just moved into a post office to mail a letter.
            Angela : Good morning.  I want to send a letter to Singapore.
            Clerk : Yes – do you want to send it air mail or ordinary mail ?
            Angela : I think I will send it air mail.  I want it to    get there quickly.  How much does it cost ?
            Clerk : That will be Rs. 200 please.
            Angela : Here you are
            Clerk : Here is your stamp
            Angela : Here you are
            Clerk : Here is your stamp
            Angela : Thank you.  Where’s the post box ?
            Clerk : It is over there, by the door.

Ø  Eliciting : It is eliciting a few ideas from the students about a context or some vocabulary related to it.  It is a useful part of setting up an activity, whether it be a role play, a game or a listening task.
Purpose : To get the students involved in the context and bringing relevant information to their minds and increasing the amount they talk.

Example : Look at the picture of Mrs. and Mr. John who are looking at a house they want to buy.  It is in a very bad state at present.

Teacher   :    Right now, do you remember Mr. and Mrs. John
S1           :    Yes
T             :    Where are they here ? (showing a picture)
S2           :    A house. An old house
T             :    Is it theirs ?
S3           :    No, it is for sale
T             :    Why are they there ?
S1           :    They want to buy it.
S2           :    No
T             :    Why not ?
S3           :    It is old, not good
T             :    Tell me more . . . . .
S1           :    Roof is not good
T             :    Yes, there is a ………….. in the roof
S2           :    hole
T             :    Yes, good

Ø  Promoting Interaction : It is one of the teacher’s tasks to manage the learning situation, so that students interact.
            Purpose : To help evaluate how far discussing one’s work with his / her classmates can help one’s own learning.

            Example : Each member of your group submit one activity to promote speech skill.
            Redistribute them among the group.

            Mark each other’s work according to agreed criteria
            Mark your own on the same scale
            Discuss whether the criteria were appropriate

Ø  Using Audio – Visual Equipment : It is making teaching – learning process exciting and enjoyable by frequent changes of activity using diverse materials.
            Purpose : To give our students practice in reacting in English, to objects or pictures they see or sounds they hear.
Ø  Pair Work and Group Work : They aim at giving practice in patterns, short dialogues, reading a text and answering questions, short writing exercises and discussions.
            Purpose : To make students respond to working in pairs / groups and to make the activity useful and enjoyable.

            Example : Teacher Suma had an Intermediate class.  She presented ‘like / don’t like’ and then she used this exercise for free practice in pairs.

Pair work : Ask what your friend likes and doesn’t like.  Ask about food, sports, music, school subjects, films.


Ø  Narratives : It is a creative exercise with the teacher having control over the language being practiced.  Narratives can be elicited using mime, picture, sequences, lists of words and sound sequences.
            Purpose : To provide an opportunity to practice and present connectives (ex. but, and, however).  They show how a stretch of language is organized.

Every day I leave my house at 8’o clock.  I walk to the station where I buy a ticket.  I show my ticket to the ticket collector and then go on to the platform where I read a news paper and wait for the train.  At 8.30 the train comes into the station.  I get on and arrive at Begum pet at 9.10.

Ø  Action Chains : It is a technique that can be used to get the students write 5 – 6 connected sentences at a time.  The teacher gives oral practice here.
            Purpose : To practices several pronoun forms and several verb tenses all in one sequence. The students verbal and physical responses coordinate and this technique helps in introducing and practicing action verbs.

            Example : Raghu, go near the black board. Take a piece of chalk. Draw a line on the board.  Draw another line above it.  Rub off those lines.  Come back to your seat.

Ø  Transformation Drill : The students are given a sentence with instructions to change the sentence in a particular way.
Purpose : To give the students practice in producing major sentence types.  Attention is focused on the structural relationships between sentence types and the changes necessary.

Example : Make the following sentences negative :
  1. I like apples.
  2. He wants a camera.
  3. They understand French.
  4. You need a hair cut.
  5. She owns a car.
  6. You have my dictionary.

Ø  Question – Answer Practice : The teacher informs the students of what kind of an answer is expected (long, short, affirmative or negative) and then poses questions for the students to answer.

            Purpose : To have students practice affirmative and negative sentences response to a question.

            Example : Answer the following with ‘yes’ and a long answer.
  1. Does she like ice – cream ?
  2. Do I talk slowly ?
  3. Does John own a Radio ?
  4. Do they smoke cigarettes.
  5. Do we know them ?

Ø  Spontaneous Pattern Practice : The teacher gives a model sentence that contains some blanks and then through a series of questions, has each student create a sentence of his own.

Purpose : To practice a sentence pattern that uses information created by the student and that makes the practice more interesting and memorable.

Example : If I had won a lottery, I would …………….

Ø  Using Language Games : The teacher uses different activities in vocabulary building, vocabulary expansion, interaction, communication, sentence patterns and a few grammar rules.

Purpose : To motivate the students for good leisure time activities.

Example : Word building
                     Spell – bee
                     Word chains
                     Cross – word puzzles
                     Word ladder etc.
            It might be helpful to the language teacher to view this collection of techniques as a collection of basic tools, somewhat analogous to a carpenter’s tool box.  Each technique or tool is useful for specific purposes, but just as a house can not be built with a hammer alone, a good language programme also cannot be fashioned from an over-reliance on any one technique or an indiscriminate use of these techniques. As language teaching itself is an art, it needs practice.  Otto Jesperson says, “He who gets the tip of his finger dipped in water, three times in twenty weeks will never learn how to swim”. There is a need of continuous practice, for aquistion of any skill and that is possible only through certain techniques.  The classroom practices described in this paper can be used successfully by teachers according to their convenience.  Students differ widely, and so do the teachers.  Here are a few suggestions for teachers to think about; alter them; add to them; and try to make each year of their teaching more interesting, more thorough in everything they do, than in the year before.  That will make their language teaching successful.  Teachers should aim at teaching language in the way it ought to be taught.
Reference Books :

Adrian Doff. (1988). Teach English, A Training Course for Teachers.  Cambridge University Press.
French, F.G.  The Teaching of English Abroad.  London : O.U.P.
Grace Indira, C. and D. Vijaya Bharathi. (2004).  Methods of Teaching English.  Guntur : Sri Nagarjuna Publishers.
Krishna Swamy, N. Lalitha Krishna Swamy. (2003). Teaching English. Approaches, Methods and Techniques.  Mac Millan India Ltd.
Raymond, C. Clark. (1985).  Language Teaching Techniques Pro Lingua Associates.  Japan : Holt – Saunders.
Roger Gower and Steve Walters. (1983).  Teaching Practice Handbook.  London : Heinemann Educational Books.
Venkateswaran, S. (1995).  Principles of Teaching English.  Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.

12. Role of English Language Laboratary in Developing Specific Communication Skills: A Case Study

B. Srinnivasa Reddy
Asst. Prof. Dept. of English
Sree Chaithanya College of Engineering
L.M.D. Colony, Karimnagar                                                                                                          

English is usually taught as a second language to meet the secondary needs of the learners in a non-English speaking country like India. But with the changing demand for English in the global context, the students, especially at professional courses, are in dire need of the specific English language communication skills. English language is introduced in professional courses to develop their communication skills to pursue their course successfully and excel in their field after their education. They need communicative competence in their field. The English teacher for professional students has to confront various challenges to develop different skills at different levels among the heterogeneous group of students in the English language class. He/she finds less time to concentrate on each individual to meet the pupil’s specific linguistic needs. In this situation, the language laboratory is the right platform to cater the needs of the students of professional courses through diagnosing their linguistic problems and solving them with the exercises designed for all the individuals.

History and Concept of the Language Laboratory
            A Language laboratory is a room which is equipped with all the required electronic devices and the material designed for the teaching of languages. As a scientific laboratory which is meant for doing practical, conducting experiments to understand the scientific concepts and principles, Language laboratory is meant for practicing/ applications of language skills involving the linguistic elements like syntax, semantics and phonetics. Thus, a language laboratory is meant for individual practice of the language exercises to develop their linguistic as well as communicative competence.

            The idea behind the language laboratory goes back to the days of audio-lingual method introduced during the Second World War to teach local languages, to the American soldiers sent to different countries, to meet their immediate needs. The method was successful to some extent and became popular in later days to teach a foreign language quickly. But due to monotonous and mechanical drilling of the language exercises it has lost its importance and neglected by the language teachers or learners in later years. But after conducting so many experiments and developing many theories in language learning process, the language laboratory again became popular and many universities have established language laboratories to develop the English language communication skills among their students and prepare them the industrial ready.

Features of a Language Laboratory:

A modern/digital language laboratory contains a master console and student consoles of computer systems, head phones and speakers. There is a LAN connection between the master console and student consoles. A more advanced Language laboratory contains an LCD projector (or at least a over head projector) and digital Handicam/web cameras.

            Master console contains a platform from which the teacher can observe, monitor, interact and guide the pupil on any console or a group of pupils without disturbing other pupils. The student consoles contain the material, i.e. the language exercises to be practiced. Each individual on the student console can practice the language exercises he/she needs without disturbing others or without being disturbed by others. Moreover, he/she can interact with the master through his/her speaker and get his/her doubts clarified without disturbing others.

Problems of Language teaching for students of professional courses:

            We know teaching a language is different from teaching a subject. Even the methods adapted are different. Subject teaching is always concept oriented and language teaching is skill oriented. Learning a language is nothing but acquiring communication skills. If we discuss the problems of English Language learners and Language teachers at professional courses, it is clear to us that many students say that they are good at grammar. They get good marks in grammatical exercises but fail in the application of those rules in their oral or written communication. They suffer from lack of fluency. Specially, they are afraid of oral communication. On the other hand, some students who come from English medium back ground speak fluent English, but commit many grammatical mistakes which may lead to unintended meaning. Some students need listening and speaking skills, some need reading and writing skills. Some students are slow learners and some students are fast learners.

Some prevailing notions on acquiring language Skills :

Accuracy Vs Fluency :

            For any individual, it is quite common to feel difficult to speak a foreign language fluently as his/her mother tongue. It is quite obvious that we lose fluency when speaking a foreign language if we try to think the idea/concept in our mother tongue, translate and construct the sentences in a foreign language according to the known/learned rules. This is because; as Krashen says grammar acts as a monitor on the language Utterances. Hence, when we are serious about the accuracy of the language, it is clear that we are losing fluency.

            On the other hand, it is also true that many students who are speaking a foreign language fluently are lack of accuracy. They are committing many grammatical mistakes, and some times even communicating unintended meaning knowingly or unknowingly.

Behaviorist Vs Cognitive approach in Language Learning:

            The accuracy as well as fluency can be possible when the cognitive learning of a language is combined with the behaviorist approach. Behaviorist approach says learning of language is with behaviorist approach. Behaviorist theory says learning language is nothing but habit formation in a particular language. It is quite true to some extent in case of learning a mother tongue. But cognitive theory says learning a foreign language is more of a cognitive process rather than habit formation. But to get fluency as well as accuracy in a foreign language, both approaches are to be followed by a foreign language learner. The Language laboratory is the right place to apply both these approaches simultaneously and get command over the usage of a foreign language in a short duration.

Advantages of the Language Laboratory:

            In a traditional class room a second or foreign language teacher finds less time to concentrate on each individual to fulfill the students’ specific linguistic needs. Whereas in a Language laboratory the students get the opportunity to learn the language skills according to their specific needs at their own pace. They can be accustomed to native speakers’ accent, improve their listening, and speaking skills with right the intonation. They can be exposed to many structural and oral drills, and functional grammar while enjoying the privacy as well as guidance of the teacher simultaneously. They are able to listen, repeat and practice all the language exercises for the whole of the language laboratory period, not having to wait for others to answer, not hearing the mistakes of their classmates and not inhibited by stress or for other reasons. The privacy of the individual in the laboratory is one of the most important factors in the process of language learning. Every member can remember his own reluctance to become the but of the class or of the teacher in attempting to twist his tongue round the strange sounds of the new language. Adults and children alike find the illusion of privacy in the language laboratory to be a real aid to learning.

            Another important advantage of the laboratory of which we must not lose sight is that the pupil becomes accustomed to hearing native speakers’ voices and a mixture of these voices, rather than the voices of his teachers alone. It is a real advantage to the learners and teachers to reduce their mother tongue influence during their utterances in a foreign language. They listen and repeat the right pronunciation and intonation of the foreign language utterances.

            We must not overlook the other opportunities offered by a language laboratory for individual work by the pupils. In a class of heterogeneous group, different individuals have different problems and different linguistic needs. One may be poor in vocabulary, one in spelling and the one may be in grammar. One may have problem in listening skills; one may be in reading skills. One may need fluency and the other one may need accuracy. One may receive limited vocabulary and linguistic competence to use it in his/her work place and the other may require the language to use it for his/her literary works. If properly planned and the teaching material is carefully selected, the language laboratory can cater all these specific needs of the pupil.
            The language laboratory can be used for diagnosing the students’ linguistic problems by prescribing various exercises in vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, listening and speaking tasks at different levels. It can be possible in the language laboratory for students to check their self score on various exercises and see the answers for the wrong ones automatically without waiting for the teacher’s evaluation. The language teacher can prescribe carefully selected graded material on different tasks for developing different language skills based on the students’ standards and their needs. 

Follow-up Activities in the Classroom

Evaluation exercises:
          In a language laboratory, at the beginning of a  course many tests can be taken on various linguistic areas like on vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing and speaking to each individual at different levels simultaneously to know the pupils standards. This enables a teacher to select different exercises to different students simultaneously according to their standards.   

Imitation Exercises:

Þ           Pronunciation :

The imitation exercises help the pupils to pronounce the words of a foreign language, especially of English languages correctly. Because, unlike Indian languages, English language has less number of alphabets and more sounds. The same letter can give different sounds and same sound takes different letters. eg: sound of “ch’- in character, in chance, in machine is different. Hence, to know the right sound of a consonant letter in English word one has to listen to its correct pronunciation as used by its native speakers or one must be familiar with phonemic transcription of a word and its right pronunciation. Students should be made familiar to recognize the correct consonant sound in phonemic transcription and to pronounce the word accurately.

Even to differentiate the short vowels from long vowels, back vowels from front vowels, the rounded from unrounded vowels, pronunciation practice of the vowel sounds in minimal pairs should be made in the language laboratory. For example,
            /o/                                /a:/
            Shop                           sharp    
            Cot                             cart
            Lodge                          large
            Hot                              heart   

Þ           Word Accent:

All syllables in a word in English language are not pronounced with equal stress. One among them takes more prominence and it is uttered with more aspiration using extra energy than on its preceding or succeeding syllables. The relative degree of prominence with which different syllables of a word are pronounced, is called word accent or word stress.

In English language word accent determines the grammatical relationships between words. Wrong accentuation of a word often leads to wrong meaning. For example,
‘addict(noun/adj.)                   ad’dict(v)
‘conduct(noun/adj.)                con’duct(v)
‘object(noun)                           ob’ject(v)

‘blackbird                    ‘black ‘bird
‘grandmother              ‘grand ‘mother
‘walkout                      ‘walk ‘out

Þ           Rhythm in sentences:

All English sentences are in rhythmic in nature. All the structure words in a sentence are usually weak forms. They are uttered quickly without stress. Whereas all the content words take strong forms and are uttered taking time and stress. They are uttered with much aspiration using extra energy so that the utterances get natural feeling. For example,
Ti   ‘tum   ti  ‘tum   ti  ‘tum(Rhythmic pattern)
I  ‘want to ‘buy a ‘pen.
I  ‘can’t re’member ‘how.
I’m ‘going ‘back to ‘work.

Ti ti ‘tum  ti ti ti ‘tum (Rhythmic pattern)
He was ‘sitting at his ‘desk.
There were ‘forty in the ‘class.
Þ           Tone groups:

A stretch of speech over which one pattern of pitch vibrations or contour of pitch extends is called a tone group. A short sentence quite often forms a single tone group, while a longer one is made up of two or more tone groups. While speaking, we divide long utterance into small meaningful chunks of words between which we pause.
            e.g. // He wants to finish this work / before I return //

If students practice reading a text on the computer system according tone groups the comprehension will be very clear and one can understand a sentence easily. This is proved in almost all cases when compared a reading according to tone groups with the reading of textual sentences with unnecessary and unwanted pauses. Reading according to tone groups also develops a consciousness on the sentence phrases and that leads to fluency in their speech also.

Þ           Tonic syllable:
A tone group consists of more than one syllable and there is atleast one syllable that is prominent amongst the rest of the syllables, because it initiates a major change in pitch direction. The prominent syllable is called nucleus or the tonic syllable of the tone group.
e.g. The ‘postman ‘didn’t come ‘yesterday.
        Do you ‘want me to ‘stay?

In the above examples ‘yes’ and ‘stay’ are the tonic syllables. Generally the choice of the nucleus or tonic syllable in the tone group is determined by the meaning that the speaker wants to convey. For example,
John  loves Mary.
John ‘loves Mary.
John  loves ‘Mary.
‘John’ is the tonic syllable in the first syllable in the first sentence. Whereas ‘loves’ and ‘Mary’ are the tonic syllables in the next successive sentences.

If the students practice the pronunciation giving prominence to the tonic syllables their speech in a foreign language seems like that of native speakers, because while practicing like this, they feel for the meaning.

Þ           Intonation Exercises:

When we speak, the pitch of the voice goes on changing that is, the voice rises or falls, and each language has its own intonation pattern. Intonation plays a very important role in conveying meaning. For example,

“His name is Ravi” with a falling tone is a statement.
                                    “His name is Ravi” with a rising tone is a question.

It is very important that students should develop the ability to recognize the various tones correctly. This can be possible in the language laboratory, where the students are exposed to all types of intonation-rising, falling, fall-rise and rise-fall tones in each tone group. Exercises developed by the department of phonetics and spoken English of EFLU, Hyderabad, ‘English Pronunciation in Use (EPU)’ of Cambridge Foundation Books series are very useful for the practice of pronunciation.

Imitation exercises of speech drills, pattern sentences and everyday dialogues prepare the pupils to use the foreign language naturally. They make habit formation and as a result the fluency is developed in using the foreign language. But one must be careful during the imitation that the imitation should be not mechanical but conscious. After understanding the meaning and the structure of the sentence if the imitation is repeated number of times, it leads to fluency as well as accuracy. In the language laboratory this can be possible if the pupil takes help from the teacher wherever he/she requires.

Everyday Conversational Dialogues:

To meet the immediate needs of the students in everyday communication the essential situational/contextual conversations can be given to them along with their sentence patterns.

For example- situations like greetings, leave takings, making requests, offering help, seeking permission, seeking information, Asking for and giving advice & suggestion are quite common in our day to day communication.

The above situational dialogues can be produced naturally, if they are practiced by the students in the language lab after acquainting themselves with the structural patterns limited to them. For example,

For making requests we use the following patterns-
1.      Can I + v1 (get/have/take)………….?
2.      Could I + v1 (get/have/take)……………?
3.      Will you + v1 …………..?
4.      Can you + v1 …………….?
5.      Would you + v1 …………….?
6.      Could you + v1 …………..?
7.      Would you mind/ Do you mind + v-ing…………….?
8.      Would you min if I/we + v2………………?
9.      I wonder if you could + v1 ………………?


Þ           Structural Drills:

Few sentence structures in English language are frequently used for day to day communication. Hence, we can say, if the pupils practice the particular sentence structures in the language laboratory according to their useful syntactic rules, they can get command over the usage of those sentence structures and use them in their communication process. The following sentence structures can be practiced in the language laboratory-
# Parallel drills:
                   Listen: I play chess.                    Listen: He plays chess.
                   Repeat: I play chess.                   Repeat: He plays chess.
                   Listen: I drink coffee.                 Listen: He drinks coffee.
                   Repeat: I drink coffee.               Repeat: He drinks coffee.

Describing self / our habits.
Describing someone’s habits.

# Mutation Drills:

  1. I drink coffee.
I don’t drink coffee (Negative)                      He drinks coffee.
Do I/you drink coffee? (Interrogative)           He doesn’t drink coffee.
                                                                        Does he drink coffee?
  1. They went to Hyderabad yesterday.
They did not go to Hyderabad yesterday. (Negative)
Did they go to Hyderabad yesterday? (Interrogative)
Where did they go yesterday? (wh-Interrogative)
When did they go to Hyderabad? (wh-Interrogative)

  1. Tenses:
(a)M: I shall see him at school.
    P: I saw him at school.

(b) M: Have you + v3…….?              M: When did you + v1………….?
     P: Yes, I/we have +v3………       P: I/we +v2 …………. + past time.
    M: Have you seen the movie?        M: When did you see the movie?
    P: Yes, I have seen it.                     P: I saw it two days ago.
(c) M: Where do you eat? In the canteen?
    P: Yes, I eat in the canteen, where do you eat?
   M: How do you go to office? By bus?
  P: Yes, I go to office by bus. How do you go to office? (stress on ‘you’)
(d) M: I earn hundred rupees a week.
    P: How much does your brother earn a week?
   M: I go to movies once in a week.
  P:  How often does your brother go to movies?

Practice of the exercises like above in the language laboratory make the pupils fluent in using the sentence patterns fluently in their day to day communication.

Writing Tasks:

For writing tasks, the following structural patterns can be given along with the paragraphs built on these patterns:
a)      Imperative sentences:
v1 + obj/complement

The above sentence structure can be used for giving instructions, commands, etc.

The paragraphs of instructions on how to conduct an experiment, how to write a program, how to use a washing machine or how to prepare a dish can be given for practice in the language laboratory so that the students get command over it.

b)      Paragraphs using simple present tense in active voice and passive voice can be given for practice for describing the scientific concepts in physics, chemistry, biology, truths/principles of geography, economics, etc. They use the sentence pattern like-
Sub + v1/v1+s/v1+es ……+obj/complement
                                    Obj + is/are +v3 …………..

c)      Paragraphs using simple past tense in active as well as passive can be given for practice for describing historical events / past events. They use a regular pattern like-
Sub + v2 + obj/complement ………..
                                                Obj + was/were +v3 …………..

Vocabulary Development & Reading Comprehension:  

          Graded and contextual exercises can be given in a language laboratory to develop the vocabulary and reading comprehension of the students according to their levels and professional requirements individually as well as in groups.


Language laboratory can be preferred to traditional class room in order to practice all the language skills containing syntax, semantics and phonetic exercises by each student. The pupils can be exposed to many exercises, situations with which they can develop their skills through rigorous practice. The language laboratory provides the students the opportunity to select the exercises they need, to practice at their own pace, to check their score, to see the correct answers and to correct themselves without depending on the teacher. It is purely learner centered, hence it is more successful.

            John D. Turner, Introduction to the Language laboratory. University of London Press Ltd, Warwick Square, London E.C.4
            Adam, J. B. and Shawcross, A. J. The Language laboratory. Pitmans, 1963.
            Bennett, W. A. ‘The Integration of Language laboratory and classroom Teaching.’ Visual Education. Feb 1964. Pp.7-9
            Blank, G. ‘Language laboratories: a status report.’ Audio-visual Instruction. Vol.8. June, 1963. P.405
            Gordon, B. ‘Integration of laboratory and classroom.’ Modern Language Journal. Vol. 30. 1956. Pp. 72-5
            “Exercises in Spoken English”, Department of Phonetics and Spoken English, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. Oxford University Press, 2005.
            A.J.Thomson and A.V.Martinet, A Practical English Grammar – Structure Drills 1&2. Oxford University Press, 2000.
            Regenstreif, H. ‘Why stop at language laboratories?’ Audio-visual instruction. Vol.7. May, 1962. Pp.282-3


13. Techniques of Teaching English Language

Assistant Professor of English
Viswanadha Institute of Technology and Management

         It is common knowledge that  the crux of the problem that lies before the teacher is how to start a teaching task to the non-native speaker of English. Especially in non-English speaking countries like India, where  there are diverse socio-economic backgrounds and linguistic varieties are there, the English language teacher’s task varies from place to place and even to class to class.  The teacher has to follow certain techniques in teaching English to suit particular level of learners.  The following techniques can be used:

Dividing the class into sections

It is a mind-boggling question as division of a class based on any criterion is bound to present problems galore. However, keeping in mind, the objectives of teaching to be realized, the teacher is supposed to work out his  redemption. As far as imparting English language knowledge is concerned, in division of classes according to certain mental ability, there are two divergent views.

(a) Dividing class according to calibre of students      

It is deemed to be good that the student of higher calibre should be placed in one class and students of limited calibre or grasping should be placed in a separate class. The main purpose of division of classes basing on differential intelligence is that the common tasks can be given to the entire class and more attention can be paid on slow learners by redesigning the syllabus and grammatical patterns to suit their needs. At the same time the brighter students class can have the advantage of acquiring advanced knowledge of language. This method is in vogue in most of the private schools and corporate schools.

(b) Mixing brighter and duller students in a same class

Another school of thought strongly supports the view of  mixing up both brighter and duller students in the same class, as it results in equalization of all the students in a particular way. According to their opinion as the both duller and brighter students are required to write the same examination and expected to have same level of knowledge at their year-end course, it is illogical to divide and teach in a different way. The theorists of this school of thought do believe that by mixing the students of differential ability will be beneficial both to duller students and bright students as well in so many counts. First, by being together in the same class the duller student acquires competitive spirit and overcomes the inferiority complex. Secondly, as the syllabi for duller and brighter students is the same, the brighter student is able to grasp the basic concepts very easily (brighter student is not expected be an expert in language) and the duller student has the benefit of learning the language in a lucid way. Thirdly in this method of teaching the teacher can delegate the duty of teaching duller students to the brighter students and in that way the duller student can acquire language skills more effectively and quickly by having the advantage of peer teaching, at the same time the brighter student can sharpen his language skills by teaching to his peers.

Collaborative Activity

The collaborative activity is one of the techniques of teaching that is used in a class of students of varied ability. In this method the teacher gives some collective learning activity to the students of the class. At the initial stages the entire class is divide into various groups if 5 to 10 students each. Each group is entrusted with an individual task. A time limit and some references are given before hand and each and every group member is expected to contribute something on the topic independently. They are given the freedom of discussing the topics and referring various books together. The main aim of this activity is to encourage exchange of ideas and various concepts among the students themselves.

Assigning Assignments

Assigning remedial work is a necessary part in learning process of a slow learner. As a matter of fact remedial classes and assignments are aimed to lift up the slow learner to the level of student of above average intelligence. In giving assignments to the slow learners the teacher should take into account certain things such as giving the student lighter assignments, clearing his doubts from time to time, evaluating students performance in monthly basis, dividing the syllabus into smaller modules and encouraging the student in his task of completing his assignment on time.

Learner’s Independence

The students should be taught to be independent in learning process. The teacher has to motivate the students in such a way that they should be able to understand the seriousness of their role in learning process in this direction. When the student acquires the self-starting behavior in learning the tasks given by the teacher, the teacher’s work becomes easier in driving home any concept or skill in the classroom.

Project Work

The teacher assigns some project work to the students of varied ability. In this method the teacher gives outline of the project for 15 min to 20 min to the students. They are required to develop the content of the project and elaborate the work. Each and every student is assigned a different project and they are expected to write within the limited time-frame. The teacher may take the help of his colleagues in integrating project works on different subjects. In this method the teacher should make it sure that marks acquired by the student for project work should be added to the final examination. In that case the project work will be taken seriously by the students. Moreover the teacher should conduct a short viva based on the project work to find out genuinity of the project work of the student. Then this technique of teaching will be effective.

Improvisational Response

It is axiomatic to say that there is no right or wrong answers as long as students are happily engaged in the process of language.  Hence, it is no wrong to give a pat a student if he goes wrong and explain to him/her that they just need a few simple responses in his/her repertoire. The teacher is supposed to provide examples and work with the students to practice those phrases and create a few more on their own. Staple responses include "good guess," "nice idea" and "excellent response” “that’s brilliant". Sounding natural is very important.  To conclude, the teacher is supposed to instill confidence in a student to say "I don't know right now, but I will be happy to talk to you about that later." Indeed, it makes a world of difference as the student is positively poised on the path of learning.


1. Penny, Ur and Marion,  Williams.  The Techniques of Language Learning and Teaching .New York. Caimbridge University Press,1991.

2.Nunan David. Language Teaching Methodology:  A Text Book for Teachers. London: Prentice Hall, 2008..

3.Gavin Dudency and Nicky Hockly. How to Teach English with Technology.  New York: Pearson-Longman, 2007.

4. Bellanca.J and Fogarty. Blue Prints for Thinking in the Cooperative Classroom. 3rd Ed.Melbourne: Hawker Brownlow Education,1993.