Skip to main content

Two ways to build in recycling: Intensive input-output work and narrow reading


We know repetition is vital for acquisition so we need to work it into lesson planning. There are various ways to do this when reading and listening. “Narrow reading” and “narrow listening” are useful, for example. Stephen Krashen first coined these terms and suggested that exposing students to a series of similar spoken or written sources of input was an effective way to promote acquisition. (His version was much less structured than what will be described below.) Text books often include a series of paragraphs featuring some vocabulary or structures in common to ensure repetition. Gianfranco Conti has turned this into a fine art with highly patterned sets of paragraphs including large amounts of repetition. We adopted this technique for our TES GCSE French units of work. Here are four French paragraphs where you see the technique in use. Repeated chunks are shown in bold.




Mes vacances récentes

Depuis longtemps, je voulais visiter Goa et finalement, l'année dernière, j'y suis allée avec mes amis. On a logé dans un Air B & B pendant huit jours parce qu'on n'avait pas beaucoup d'argent. Du coup on a toujours cherché des endroits pas chers pour manger. Quel soleil! On a visité des lieux touristiques comme la cathédrale, les marchés locaux et aussi les boîtes de nuit célèbres. J'ai goûté des fruits de mer et des poissons de types différents. On a fait du rafting et du surf à la mer. Mais le meilleur moment pour moi était le jour où on a fait une promenade épuisante. L’année prochaine je ferai un petit job, ça me permettra d’économiser pour mes vacances. (Laurence)

L’année dernière on a passé des vacances extraordinaires en Californie. Je voulais y aller depuis longtemps. On a loué une voiture pendant quinze jours. Impossible de tout raconter, mais le meilleur moment était la promenade en Segway à San Francisco. Los Angeles était bien, mais il y avait trop de circulation sur les routes. J’ai adoré le parc naturel de Yosemite, avec ses beaux paysages, ses énormes arbres et panoramas si spectaculaires. Chaque soir on a logé dans un hôtel différent. Je n’ai pas trop apprécié la cuisine américaine, mais mon frère a dit qu’il mangerait volontiers de hamburgers tous les jours. L’année prochaine je ferai un petit job pour économiser pour un voyage en Espagne avec mes copains. (Didier)

L'année dernière j'ai passé mes vacances d'été avec ma famille dans le midi de la France. On y va depuis longtemps. On a logé dans un vieux gîte au centre du village de La Palme près de la Méditerranée. Nous sommes partis sur le ferry de Portsmouth le jeudi soir et on est arrivés à notre destination tard le samedi soir. Le voyage était épuisant parce qu’il y avait trop de circulation et il pleuvait tout le temps. Le jour on a visité plusieurs endroits historiques car je m'intéresse aux autres cultures. Un jour, on a fait une promenade sur le petit train dans un parc naturel dans les Pyrénées. Les paysages étaient très calmes et les panoramas étaient si spectaculaires que j'ai pu prendre beaucoup de jolies photos. (Thierry)

Chaque année au mois de février ma famille et moi, on va dans les Alpes faire du ski. Cette fois on a loué un chalet près de Morzine. Quelle neige!  Du coup on a pu skier presque tous les jours. C’est amusant, mais très épuisant aussi.  Le soir on a mangé au chalet ensemble ou, des fois, on est allés au restaurant dans le village manger de la fondue, par exemple. L’année prochaine je voudrais faire des cours de snowboard. Pour faire des économies je ferai un petit job au centre de jardinage près de chez nous ; ça me permettra d’acheter du matériel de ski. (Cécile)


 From Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher, Routledge, 2017, Chapter 8.

You can work on a series of texts like this in many ways, including reading aloud, question-answer, "Find the French", matching tasks (matching the person to an oral statement), true/false/not mentioned, correcting false sentences and so on.

One slight downside to such texts is their very artificial nature. You could hardly call these texts very interesting. However, they do fulfill a very useful teaching function and can be closely matched to the syllabus you are teaching..

******************************************************************************

I came across the phrase intensive-output work while reading an article by Michael Swan about grammar teaching. It neatly sums up a successful way of working with texts to ensure language is recycled as much as possible in a lesson or sequence of lessons. In this instance, rather than using a series of short, concocted related texts, you work with one longer, possibly authentic or at least adapted authentic text. This has the potential to offer more interesting content.

Now, in this case, the recycling element is not provided so much by the text itself, but rather by what you do with it. There may be some built in repetition in the text, for example repeated uses of a particular tense, but here the primary aim is to work in the recycling though the exercises types. So let's take a high intermediate level text (Higher GCSE or even AS level):


Un robot est un type de machine spéciale. C’est une machine qui peut se déplacer en suivant les instructions d'un ordinateur. Comme c’est une machine, il ne se trompe pas, il ne se fatigue pas et ne se plaint jamais.


>Les robots sont partout autour de nous. Par exemple, les robots fabriquent les voitures. Certains sont utilisés pour explorer des endroits dangereux. Par exemple, les robots peuvent explorer des volcans ou la surface des planètes. Certains robots sont utilisés pour nettoyer. Il y a par exemple des aspirateurs-robots.



Certains robots ressemblent à des humains, mais ils sont rares. On utilise des robots pour désamorcer des bombes. Les drones sont utilisés dans des guerres, mais ils ont beaucoup d’usages paisibles. Par exemple ils surveillent des terres agricoles.

Il y a longtemps, les gens imaginaient des robots. Il y a plus de 2000 ans, le célèbre poète grec Homère imaginait des robots en or, mais le premier véritable robot a été fabriqué en 1961 aux Etats-Unis. Il s’appelait Unimate. Il a été utilisé pour aider à fabriquer des voitures et il ressemblait à un bras géant.

A l'avenir, nous aurons beaucoup plus de robots. Ils vont des choses que nous ne pouvons ou ne voulons pas faire. Ou bien ils vont des choses qui sont trop dangereux pour nous. Ils vont nous aider lutter contre les incendies, ils nous aideront à combattre les guerres et ils vont nous aider à combattre des maladies. Ils vont nous aider à découvrir des choses.


You could show alongside this a parallel translation of the text if you think the class needs it.




A robot is a special type of machine. It’s a machine which can move by following the instructions of a computer. As it’s a machine, it never makes a mistake, it doesn’t get tired and it never complains.

Robots are everywhere around us For example, robots manufacture cars. Some are used to explore dangerous places. For instance, robots can explore volcanoes or the surface of planets. Some robots are used to clean. There are robot vacuum cleaners, for example.
Some robots resemble human beings, but they are rare. They use robots to defuse bombs. Drones are used in wars, but they have lots of peaceful uses. For example they survey agricultural land.


A long time ago, people imagined robots. More than 2000 ago the famous Greek poet Homer imagined robots made of gold, but the first real robot was manufactured in 1961 in the USA. It was called Unimate. It was used to help build cars and it looked like a giant arm.


In the future we will have a lot more robots. They will do the things which we cannot do or do not want to do. Or they will do things which are too dangerous for us. They will help us to fight fires. They will help us to fight wars and they will help us to fight illnesses. They will help us discover a lot of things.


Here are a series of tasks (you could come up with more of your own favourites) which would allow students to hear and read multiple uses of the same chunks. They can be used within one lesson and over a series of lessons. (We know how important it is to do spaced retrieval practice.)

  • Teacher reads aloud.
  • Choral reading aloud.
  • Individual reading aloud of each paragraph or separate sentences.
  • Individual reading aloud with fingers in ears.
  • Teacher-led "Find the French".
  • True or false statements. 
  • Teacher-led correcting false statements.
  • Question-answer with hands up and no hands up ("cold calling").
  • Written answers to oral questions.
  • "Complete the sentence or phrase" from memory.
  • Gap-fill with or without options provided (from memory).
  • Translation into English.
  • Aural gap-fill (hide the text, read it word by word leaving pauses for pupils to provide the next word). 
  • Transcription/dictation, teacher-led or in pairs.
  • Grammatically focused tasks, e.g. gap-fill sentences highlighting the present tense (much used in the text). 
  • Filling in a verb grid (present tense).
  • Running dictation using adapted sections form the source text.
  • Translation of chunks or sentences into French.
  • Finding vocabulary from defintions, e.g. une montagne qui peurt exploser de temps en temps (volcan); un grand feu (incendie); laver (nettoyer); la Terre, Mars, Jupiter etc (planète); un grand conflit violent entre deux pays (guerre); combatter (lutter); rendre une bombe inactive (désamorcer).

  • To conclude, I often found that text books offered too few opportunities to do intensive input-output work or other opportunities to recycle language. When this is the case it would be wise to create these opportunities yourself, either by adding your own tasks to the text book ones, or just by finding alternative sources. Second language acquisition takes time, but you can accelerate the process by providing lots of repetitions of words, chunks and grammatical structures.


     


Comments

  1. Great blog post, examples and ideas for recycling. I agree with what you have noted about text books!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

Making words memorable

Most teachers and researchers would agree that knowing words is even more important than knowing grammar if you wish to be proficient in a language. As linguist David Wilkins wrote in 1972: "Without grammar little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed."One of the frustrations for teachers is pupils' inability to retain vocabulary for productive use. A good deal of research has been done over the years into how pupils might better keep words in memory. Two concepts which have come to the fore are spacing and interleaving.

Spaced practice

A 2003 review of the literature by P.Y. Gu reported that most studies show that students frequently forget words after learning them just once.  Anderson and Jordan (1928) discovered that after initial learning, then one week, three weeks and eight weeks thereafter, the recall success was 66%, 48%, 39% and 37% respectively. Other studies have produced similar results. Unsurprisingly, these researchers recommend, space…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…