Language Presentations in the TEFL classroom 2. The book presentation: teacher training in Málaga

Language Presentations in the TEFL classroom 2. The book presentation: teacher training in Málaga.

This simply consists of the TEFL teacher providing TEFL students with exposure to the language, and the context in which it exists allows the students to deduce the meaning. This is in contrast to a language breakdown created in a task-based situation. This is invariably provided by most text books. Usually a situation is presented, with a picture to illustrate and a dialogue. Then it is followed by clarifying examples, such as this one taken from Murphy’s:

John isn't playing the guitar, now.

He is watching the television

But John has got a guitar.

He plays his guitar every day.

Is he playing his guitar? No, he isn't.

Does he play the guitar? Yes, he does.

Here, the concept (the students don't directly experience it) of the present simple as being a tense to express habitual activity becomes apparent because the students’ previous knowledge of present continuous is based on activities taking place at the time of speaking. So if we tell the students that John plays, but isn't playing the guitar, then the students have to make a mental effort to understand the meaning context. An important word here is "everyday". Without this word TEFL students can't interpret what the tense tries to express.

The draw back to this presentational approach in the lesson plan is that the student uses an intellectual process in order to grasp the target language - this means they don't enjoy some of the above advantages such as the intuitive grasp of language (as created by need) and the learning impact created by experiencing a language breakdown (see article 12). Also, compare this learning approach to the way the real world teaches us language; most of the time, experience is taking place, not logical mental effort.

The advantages that the book presentation offers are the following:

  1. Many students feel a sense of security if they have an intellectual grasp of language because they have learnt that this is required of them in previous learning experiences and sometimes it's hard to "let go".
  2. It is easy to isolate the target language.
  3. It requires relatively little lesson planning because most books provide this material already.
  4. It avoids misinterpretation or interference from the mother tongue (e.g. in Spanish, the present simple is used for activities taking place at the time of speaking).

The disadvantages that the book presentation has are the following:

  1. It is a very standard, unexciting TEFL classroom experience, with little ‘impact’ value, and therefore less memorable.
  2. The student is one step away from internalising the language because they have not been actively involved in discovering the language in context.
  3. Some students’ learning styles do not suit this kind of logical language meaning approach.


Posted on May 15th, 2017


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