Instructional Practices in Language Learning Process
Second language instruction can be conceptualized as falling into two broad categories: meaning-focused instruction and form-focused instruction (Long,1996; Ellis, 2001). Meaning-focused instruction is characterized by communicative language teaching and involves no direct, explicit attention to language form. Form-focused instruction generally treats language as an object to be studied through discrete lessons targeting specific grammatical structures and rules. Such instruction can be called an isolated approach because attention to language form is isolated from a communicative context. As defined by Laufer, “FonF attends to lexical items (single words and multi-word units) within a communicative task environment, since these lexical items are necessary for the completion of a communicative or an authentic language task. FonFs, on the other hand, teaches and practices discrete lexical items in non- communicative, non-authentic language tasks (2006). Error correction in this context is often used to ensure that learners accurately use what they have just been taught. The context for error correction that has received considerable attention during the past decade involves an integrated approach to language instruction, incorporating attention to language structures within a meaning-focused activity or task.
The instructional practices establish a balance in our instructional strategies in the classroom- a balance between deductive teaching and inductive teaching, a balance between explicit and implicit instructions, and a balance between procedural knowledge and declarative knowledge. When it comes about this balancing, it refers to balancing over a period of time not in everyday classroom situation. Trying this balance in every level of the learning phase will not bring a good result; it refers to balancing a variable ratio at every level. This balancing is elastic and flexible in nature. The primary objectives of my ESL classroom are to let the students use the language in communication, it starts with fluency practice and this journey of fluency is toward proficiency in communication. While going to the house of proficiency, fluency needs to collect bags of accuracy which are life- saving drinks to fluency. Unless fluency drinks accuracy on its way to proficiency, the journey ends there.
So, to me, fluency is life itself and accuracy is the nutrition to save life. As far as the purpose is to develop the effective communicative competence of the learners in English language, they should start this communication at the first place. Inductive approach, procedural knowledge and implicit instructional strategies support that very much. Unless the students learn the language, how they can become grammarian or ELT experts and what is the use of it? So, learners do not need declarative knowledge, deductive learning experience and explicit instructional support at the first place. They need them at the later stage to shape up their communication, to polish their skills and to repair their learning gaps. However, overdose of declarative knowledge, deductive teaching and explicit instruction may bring unexpected results for learners who want to be proficient and efficient in the communication, it is better not to treat them as future grammar scholars.
Ellis, R. (2001). “Investigating form-focused instruction.” Language Learning (Supplement 1): 1-46.
Ellis, R., S. Loewen, & R. Erlam. (2006). “Implicit and explicit corrective feedback and the acquisition of L2 grammar.” Studies in Second Language Acquisition 25(2): 243-272.
Laufer, B. 2006. Comparing focus on Form and Focus on FormS in second language vocabulary learning. Canadian Modern Language Review 63: 149-166
Seidlhofer (Eds.), Principle and Practice in Applied Linguistics (pp. 125–144). Oxford, UK: Oxford