‘learning to use’ ‘using to learn’? Long- term e f f ec t s of s t ruc ture -based versus dynami c usage -based programs f or F rench Wim Gomber t From towards
From ‘ learning to use’ towards ‘using to learn’ ? Long-term ef fects of structure-based versus dynamic usage-based programs for French Wim Gombert
ISBN: 978-94-6458-702-9 Cover: Gerhard Visker Lay-out & printing by: Ridderprint | www.ridderprint.nl Copyright 2022, W. Gombert, Westerwijtwerd, e Netherlands Groningen Dissertations in Linguistics 221 e work in this thesis has been carried out under the auspices of the Graduate School for Humanities (GSH) from the University of Groningen and the Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG) and was nanced by the Dudoc-Alfa program. Dit proefschri werd ondersteund door het Dudoc-Alfa programma dat eerstegraads bevoegde docenten de mogelijkheid biedt om, naast hun baan in het onderwijs, vier jaar lang een promotieonderzoek uit te voeren op het terrein van de vakdidactiek van de geesteswetenschappen. Het Dudoc-Alfa programma is een gezamenlijk initiatief van de faculteiten Letteren/ Geesteswetenschappen van de Open Universiteit, de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Tilburg University, de Universiteit Leiden, de Universiteit Utrecht, de Universiteit van Amsterdam en de Vrije Universiteit, in samenwerking met het Programmabureau Duurzame Geesteswetenschappen. Dudoc-Alfa wordt gecoördineerd door een speciaal daarvoor ingestelde Stuurgroep Vakdidactiek Geesteswetenschappen. Het programma wordt mogelijk gemaakt door een subsidie die speciaal door het Ministerie van OC&W beschikbaar is gesteld in het kader van Duurzame Geesteswetenschappen.
From “learning to use” towards “using to learn”? Long-term effects of structure-based versus dynamic usage-based programs for French Proefschrift ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen op gezag van de rector magnificus prof. dr. C. Wijmenga en volgens besluit van het College voor Promoties. De openbare verdediging zal plaatsvinden op donderdag 17 november 2022 om 16.15 uur door Willem Gombert geboren op 31 mei 1961 te Zwollerkerspel
Promotores Prof. dr. M.H. Verspoor Prof. dr. M.C.J. Keijzer Beoordelingscommissie Prof. dr. W.M. Lowie Prof. dr. R. de Graaff Dr. N.H. de Jong
TABLE OF CONTENTS Voorwoord 7 CHAPTER 1 Introduction 11 CHAPTER 2 Communicative Language Teaching in Practice: a historical overview 19 CHAPTER 3 e study: an overview 41 CHAPTER 4 e role of exposure in developing reading and listening skills 55 Abstract 56 Introduction 57 Literature 58 Method 62 Results 65 Discussion and conclusion 66 CHAPTER 5 Structure-based versus dynamic usage-based instruction: L2 French writing skills a er six years of instruction in secondary school 69 Abstract 70 Introduction 71 Literature 72 Method 75 Results 80 Discussion and conclusion 82 CHAPTER 6 Exposure and chunks in L2 French writing 85 Abstract 86 Introduction 87 Literature 87 Method 91 Results 96 Discussion and conclusion 99
CHAPTER 7 Oral pro ciency in L2 French: “Learning to use” versus “using to learn” 105 Abstract 106 Introduction 107 Literature 107 Method 114 Results 118 Discussion and conclusion 119 CHAPTER 8 Summary, general discussion and conclusion 125 Summary of this study 127 Discussion: di erences in processing 131 Conclusion 135 References 140 Appendices 156 A Rubric used for the assessment of writing skills (chapter 5) B Example of the materials used to prepare students for the writing exams (chapter 5) C Example of a writing exam used to test writing skills (chapter 5) D VBA Script used to automatically identify chunks in texts (chapter 6) E Excel code to enable communication with Word macros (chapter 6) F e SOPA rating scale used for the assessment of oral pro ciency (chapter 7) G e SOPA Protocol for testing oral pro ciency (chapter 7) List of abbreviations 179 List of tables and gures 180 Nederlandse samenvatting 181 Groningen dissertations in linguistics (GRODIL) 183
VOORWOORD EEN LANGE ZOEKTOCHT Bijna 40 jaar geleden begon ik aan mijn loopbaan als docent moderne vreemde talen. Al snel merkte ik dat de opleiding die ik daarvoor had gevolgd aan de Nieuwe Lerarenopleiding (NLO) te Nijmegen een goede was. Ook maakte ik daar kennis met de communicatieve methode, die net ontwikkeld was en die erg belangrijk werd gevonden voor de Europese eenwording. Immers, wat was nu beter voor de integratie van al die volken en culturen in Europa dan dat ze met elkaar in gesprek zouden gaan. Deze communicatieve methode leek in staat om deze integratie te versnellen. Vol verwachting en met veel zelfvertrouwen begon ik op 22 augustus 1983 aan mijn baan als docent Frans en Engels op een middelbare school in de stad Groningen. Maar zoals veel startende docenten, heb ik een aantal jaren nodig gehad om mijn docentvaardigheden uit te breiden met een vaardigheid die je vooral in de praktijk leert: orde houden. Na een aantal jaren vooral gericht te zijn geweest op het ontwikkelen van deze fundamentele vaardigheid, kwam er ruimte om de focus te verplaatsen naar de kwaliteit van het lesgeven zelf. Want de kritische geest, die ik had ontwikkeld tijdens mijn opleiding in Nijmegen, kreeg ruimte om te re ecteren op de eigen praktijk. En wat ik zag, stemde me niet vrolijk. Mijn leerlingen konden prima in het Engels en het Frans lezen, ze hadden een goede beheersing van de grammatica, hadden heel veel belangrijke woorden en zinnen uit hun hoofd geleerd, kenden de onregelmatige werkwoorden uit hun hoofd maar spontaan een gesprekje voeren, dat werd lastiger, tenminste voor Frans. Voor Engels viel het nog wel mee. Een tijdlang kon ik mijn geweten nog sussen met de gedachte dat ik leerlingen slechts tot halverwege hun leerroute bracht (het eind van de onderbouw) en dat mijn collega’s in de bovenbouw de spreekvaardigheid wel goed zouden ontwikkelen. Immers, zo hield ik mezelf voor, ze moeten toch eerst veel leren voordat ze echt de taal kunnen gebruiken. Dat vond ik logisch. Voordat je kunt eten, moet je toch ook eerst boodschappen doen? Maar toen ik zelf Frans ging geven in bovenbouwklassen, ontdekte ik dat het lastiger was dan ik dacht om leerlingen na 5 of 6 jaar ook goed Frans te laten spreken. Het meest confronterende (en vervelende) moment was de toets spreekvaardigheid in de examenklas. Ik vroeg me regelmatig af waar ik 5 of 6 jaar mee bezig was geweest als ik tijdens de toets ontdekte dat de meeste leerlingen slechts uit het hoofd geleerde zinnetjes konden reproduceren.
Toen de frustratie hierover groeide, ben ik gaan zoeken. Hoe kon ik de spreekvaardigheid van mijn leerlingen op een niveau krijgen dat acceptabel was voor mij en voor hen? Deze vraag leidde tot een zoektocht die heel lang geduurd hee en die mij bij verschillende mogelijke oplossingen bracht. Eerst zocht ik het antwoord in een verbeterde samenwerking tussen docenten in de vakgroep vanuit de gedachte dat leerlingen voortdurend te maken hadden met andere docenten die weer andere dingen belangrijk vonden en hun eigen accenten plaatsten. Een consistente aanpak door docenten zou e ectiever moeten zijn. Ik geloof daar nog steeds in maar het zorgde niet voor een hoger niveau van de spreekvaardigheid. Vervolgens zocht ik het antwoord in het vergroten van de motivatie bij leerlingen. Ik werkte meer met eigen lesmateriaal naast de leergang. En dan vooral met muziek en met video, wat in die tijd een tamelijk nieuw medium was voor leerlingen. Leerlingen vonden de lessen inderdaad leuker en deden beter hun best maar ook dit zorgde niet voor een hoger niveau van de spreekvaardigheid. Daarna zocht ik een antwoord in de ICT. Ik had kennis gemaakt met een electronische leeromgeving, ACE, waarin je als docent oefeningen kunt aanmaken die dan door leerlingen via internet gemaakt kunnen worden en meteen gecorrigeerd worden door het systeem. In een aantal jaren heb ik de grammatica en de luistervaardigheidstraining van een complete onderbouwmethode gedigitaliseerd en kon ik online bekijken of leerlingen goed hun best deden. Dit leverde veel tijdwinst op: Elke les spaarde ik op die manier 1520 minuten die ik kon inzetten voor het ontwikkelen van de spreekvaardigheid. Het leek het ei van Columbus: E cienter en moderner werken zou wellicht ook motiverender zijn. En ik kon inderdaad meer tijd besteden aan de ontwikkeling van de spreekvaardigheid. Maar het gedroomde hogere eindniveau voor spreken kwam er niet. Ik had nog steeds geen antwoord op mijn vraag. Maar ik ging verder met zoeken en zocht het hele internet af naar informatie. In november 2011 las ik op internet de masterscriptie van Audrey Rousse-Malpat over de AIM methodiek en was blij verrast: Als de hel van wat zij beweerde waar was, moest ik die methodiek hebben. Ik heb vervolgens alle mogelijke trainingen gevolgd in Amsterdam en in Canada (de bakermat van de AIM methodiek) en heb in 2012 de methodiek ingevoerd. Al snel had ik door dat leerlingen inderdaad veel beter werden in spreken. Mijn zoektocht leek ten einde. Ik had een antwoord op mijn vraag: Natuurlijk is het goed als docenten op één school een consistente werkwijze hanteren, als er motiverende werkvormen worden gebruikt en als de tijd e cient gebruikt wordt. Maar er is meer nodig voor het e ectief ontwikkelen van de spreekvaardigheid: een consistente aanpak die gebruik maakt van de nieuwste inzichten vanuit onderzoek over hoe een vreemde taal het best geleerd kan worden: Dompel leerlingen onder in de vreemde taal, daag ze uit om deze actief te gebruiken. Maximaliseer het gebruik van de doeltaal in de les en zorg ervoor dat leerlingen de taal ook durven gebruiken doordat ze niet meer bang zijn om fouten te maken.
Maar bovenal: Ik ontdekte dat de vergelijking met boodschappen doen als voorwaarde om te kunnen eten, niet opging: Het is beter om de vreemde taal te leren door deze meteen te gebruiken dan deze pas te gaan gebruiken als je genoeg geleerd hebt. Het wordt er ook nog eens veel leuker door. Tenslotte kon ik een lang gekoesterde droom in vervulling laten gaan: “werken aan de grenzen van het weten”. Ik heb wetenschappeijk onderzoek kunnen doen naar de e ectiviteit van deze methodiek. Hiermee hoop ik veel docenten in de toekomst te kunnen overtuigen van het feit dat het echt mogelijk is om een hoger niveau van spreekvaardigheid te krijgen bij leerlingen. En het mooiste is, dat je werk er veel leuker door wordt! DANK! Deze zoektocht is mogelijk gemaakt door verschillende personen die ik daar erg dankbaar voor ben. Om te beginnen mijn ouders die, ondanks dat het niet hun wereld was, mij toch stimuleerden om te gaan studeren. Ik had ze er erg graag bij gehad tijdens de verdediging. Verder natuurlijk Tineke, mijn echtgenote en mijn maatje, die mijn gemopper en frustratie wel eens zat was maar mij toch van harte is blijven steunen tijdens mijn zoektocht. Vervolgens Wendy Maxwell, die AIM hee ontwikkeld vanuit een herkenbare frustratie: Ook zij raakte gefrustreerd over wat haar leerlingen (niet) konden na 6 jaar. En natuurlijk Audrey Rousse-Malpat die mij op het spoor gezet hee van AIM en die mij ook hee geïntroduceerd in de wereld van de taalwetenschap. Samen vervolgen we nu een reis waarbij we docenten Frans willen helpen om de Franse lessen zodanig in te richten dat het niveau van spreekvaardigheid verhoogd wordt. Tenslotte Marjolijn Verspoor en Merel Keijzer die mij begeleid hebben bij dit onderzoek en voortdurend heel kritisch, gedegen, inspirerend en motiverend commentaar gaven op wat ik deed en schreef. Ik vond jullie begeleiding erg jn en ik heb heel veel van jullie geleerd. Uiteraard zijn er nog vele anderen geweest die mij gesteund en geholpen hebben tijdens deze lange reis: schoolleiders die mij gefaciliteerd hebben, collega’s die mij gemotiveerd hebben, famillie, vrienden en bekenden die hun belangstelling toonden, medewerkers en collega-promovendi binnen de vakgroep Applied Linguistics van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen die mij geholpen hebben en samen met mij naar verre plaatsen zijn geweest voor het bezoeken van congressen. En niet te vergeten DudocAlfa. Dit programma zorgde niet alleen voor facilitering in de zin van een beurs waardoor ik vier jaar lang drie dagen per week vrijgesteld was van lessen maar ook voor ondersteuning in de vorm van de hal aarlijkse intervisieweekenden in Ede waarin gedegen trainingen en prettige intervisiesessies plaats vonden maar waar het ook heel erg gezellig was.
INTRODUCTION C H A P T E R 1
12 CHAPTER 1 In her dissertation on the development of French in the Netherlands, Voogel (2018) describes the state of teaching French as a Foreign Language (FFL) in the Netherlands based on a survey among teachers of FFL and 25 follow-up interviews in 2015 ( rst published in a professional magazine for teachers; Voogel, 2016). According to Voogel (2016), teachers of FFL in the Netherlands signaled a vast decline of perceived importance of French following major educational reforms at the end of the 20th century. She pointed to various contributing factors: a signi cant reduction in instruction time over the past two decades, increased competition from other foreign languages and other subjects such as science and economics; the steep decrease of the number of higher educational programs that require French and the increased importance of English, Mathematics and Dutch in the secondary school curriculum as a result of their newly gained status of core subjects in the curriculum. Voogel adds to this that, in a society in which social, economic, and political importance have come to dominate choices at all levels, French is considered less important than before and a reduction of classroom time for French seems a logical choice. At the classroom level, the decline of the status of French inevitably led to a reduction of the number of students opting to study French (Voogel, 2016). However, other factors mentioned by French teachers themselves (as revealed in Voogel’s questionnaire) suggest that there might be more to it than just a negative spino caused by a decline of social, economic, or political importance as perceived by students and parents in the light of the changed curriculum. Students might also be less attracted to French (and German) because they do not expect to achieve a high level and to learn what they really want to learn, as is the case with English as a foreign language. Teachers in the survey mention that students o en perceive French to be a particularly di cult language to learn. ey also point out that only reading skills are tested in the nal exams. ese are seen as important reasons for a decline in the number of students opting for French to complement their secondary school curriculum. Several attempts tomake the French classroomattractive againwerementioned by the French teachers who completed the survey, such as organizing extracurricular projects, using technological devices, or organizing educational trips to France, but none of these led to a long-term and substantial increase in interest in French as a secondary school subject. Although these attempts undoubtedly resulted in a higher level of motivation in speci c and individual French classrooms, teachers did not report a higher level of skills or a higher number of students opting for French as a result overall. Only one positive development was mentioned by these same teachers: the number of candidates who registered for the French DELF1 exam, which is a highly esteemed, international exam, did rapidly increase. 1 Diplôme d’études de langue française (DELF) is the French equivalent of the Cambridge exam. Students in regular secondary schools can opt to sit this external exam and receive an internationally recognized certi cate. In addition to the regular teaching programs for French in secondary schools, students can decide to enroll in follow-up courses depending on their level and prepare for the DELF exams in all four skills at all levels (A1, A2, B1 and B2).
CHAPTER 1. Introduction 13 In short, as part of the survey conducted in 2015 by Voogel, three aspects emerged that French teachers in the Netherlands then mentioned as developments to have detrimentally in uenced the popularity of French in the Dutch secondary school curriculum: the decline of the importance of FFL in the curriculum, the experienced di culty of French and the focus onwritten skills over spoken pro ciency. Unfortunately, di erent short-term attempts to revive FFL have failed to be e ective, and the overall picture that emerged from this survey is a rather negative one. e claims made by teachers of FFL, as reported in the survey (Voogel, 2016; 2018), appear to be justi ed and the disappointment they expressed is understandable. Disappointingly, however, no teacher who participated in this survey reported any attempt to opt for a di erent approach to teaching French as a foreign language or adapt their teaching program in accordance with what second language development researchers have reported in terms of e ective foreign language instruction (cf. chapter 2). Teachers can autonomously decide to reform the curriculum in an attempt to provide an impetus to the overall e ectiveness of FFL. e only positive development mentioned by these same teachers, the number of candidates who registered for the French DELF exam that showed an increase, suggests that curriculum reforms might be a promising direction for the revival of FFL: e DELF exam assesses all four skills and expects students to follow a supplementary teaching program, which enables learners to develop these four skills to the level expected for the exam. is is in stark contrast with a sole focus on reading skills, as is the case with the regular exam. Voogel’s analysis of the decline of French in secondary schools is valuable as it presents a clear picture of the situation in 2015. is situation seems, unfortunately, largely unchanged at present (cf. Michel et al., 2021). It is therefore all the more vital that changes are implemented in the FFL curriculum. With the Common European Framework for Reference to Languages (European Parliament, 2022) stipulating uency in at least two foreign languages other than the native language, it is high time to show that the perceived di culty in learning French and perceived impossibility of obtaining high levels of French language pro ciency are largely due to the way the subject has been and mostly continues to be taught. No curriculum reform can be instantiated without a solid foundation of research insights from the eld of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). FFL teaching programs, like other foreign language teaching programs in the Netherlands, are predominantly designed from a structure-based perspective: a great deal of time is used for (explicit) instruction and practice with grammar (West & Verspoor, 2016) and for developing reading comprehension strategies (Voogel, 2018). e focus on grammar is o en motivated by foreign language teachers as essential for developing writing skills, while the focus on reading seems to be a logical consequence of the fact that the nal exam in the Netherlands is a reading comprehension test. As the use of the native language (L1) in the classroom is thought necessary due to the nature of grammar instruction
14 CHAPTER 1 and reading strategies, target language use is o en minimal (West & Verspoor, 2016). But this focus on grammar and reading may be at the expense of the development of oral skills (speaking and listening), as very little class time is le to practice such skills. Although most foreign language teachers in the Netherlands regret this situation and would like to have more of a focus on oral skills in their programs (Voogel, 2018), the importance attributed to grammar and reading prevents these same teachers from changing the teaching program. Adding to this complex picture of foreign language teaching in the Netherlands is the growing in uence of available coursebooks and the workload of Dutch foreign language teachers. According to Westho (2004, p. 108) innovation in foreign language teaching stagnates because of a lack of appropriate course materials. As pro t is the primary goal of educational publishers, coursebook design is usually based on commercial interests and Dutch teachers of modern foreign languages (who are claimed to be highly dependent of coursebooks, according to Westho ) prioritize “educational comfort” over “e ectiveness” when choosing new course materials. is may in large part be due to the workload of Dutch teachers, which is considered relatively high when compared to the workload of foreign language teachers in other countries. As part of a fulltime position, the workload for Dutch foreign language teachers generally amounts to 30% more classes compared to their European colleagues abroad, with on average 30-40% more students in their classes (Westho , 2004; p. 86). As a result, Dutch teachers have less time available to prepare classes, making them more dependent on readily available coursebooks. Despite communicative claims, these coursebooks still largely follow a structure-based design, emphasizing grammar and reading strategies, and o en encouraging the L1 as the language of instruction in teacher manuals (Westho , 2004; West & Verspoor, 2016). PERSONAL RATIONALE FOR THE CURRENT STUDY Like Voogel’s respondents, I had become frustrated as an FFL teacher in that my students were not able to speak French a er six years of instruction. ey could read and understand French but did not feel con dent enough to speak. I had been using traditional FFL methods up until then, but in 2011 I decided to change and use a di erent method, the Accelerated Integrative Method (AIM) (Maxwell, 2001; Arnott, 2011) with a new cohort starting their rst year of secondary school. Both the traditional methods and AIM are supposed to be communicative in nature, but the traditional methods that the school at which I worked employed, contained a great deal of explicit grammar and could be considered structure-based (SB) in nature, which may be considered a weak version of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). e AIM method contained a great deal of target language exposure, with a great deal of repetition built in and could be considered dynamic usage-based (DUB) in nature, which may be considered a strong version of CLT.
CHAPTER 1. Introduction 15 In 2014, I was asked to participate in Rousse-Malpat’s longitudinal research project in which she compared the e ectiveness of FFL traditional programs with AIM at the end of three years (Rousse-Malpat, 2019). At that time, I was still teaching the older cohorts (those who sat their nal exams in 2015 and 2016) on the basis of traditional coursebook methods. Inspired by Rousse-Malpat’s research, I decided it would be a good time to investigate learning outcomes a er six years of traditional methods and compare them with the learning outcomes of the younger AIM cohorts (who sat their exams in 2017-2019). Rousse-Malpat in her work (2019) had focused on productive skills only (speaking and writing), but I decided to test the students not only on speaking and writing but also on reading and listening, especially because FFL teachers seem to believe that only a structure-based (SB) approach can prepare students adequately for such skills that to a large degree determine the nal exam grade. Voogel (2016) indicated that teachers nd it hard to prepare students for the nal exams and develop communicative competence at the same time. is opinion is based on the assumption that it is necessary to spend a great deal of time on reading in general and on exam training in particular to prepare for the nal exam and that explicit grammar instruction is necessary to avoid errors and develop writing skills (Gunnarson, 2012). Such assumptions lead to an increase in time spent on written skills (reading and writing) at the expense of oral skills (listening and speaking). As a result, mainstream FFL teaching programs can be characterized as weak versions of CLT: they are structure-based with a heavy focus on written skills, and little attention to oral skills. is is clearly demonstrated by the fact that schools which used a DUB approach in the rst three years o en continue with an SB approach in the nal three years, as they fear that a DUB approach cannot prepare students adequately for the nal exams. Of the 80 schools in the Netherlands which currently employ the AIM method in the rst three years of their curriculum, only a limited number continue to apply AIM principles in the nal three years, and usually revert to French coursebooks instead. Indeed, whether a full DUB approach for six years can also prepare students adequately for the nal exams in terms of reading and writing skills, is an empirical question and one that many FFL teachers in the Netherlands need an answer to before they feel comfortable to implement changes. erefore, this dissertation aims to compare SB and DUB FFL learners a er 6 years of instruction on reading, writing, speaking, and listening. RESEARCH QUESTION To meet this aim, the following research question forms the foundation of this study: How does a weak CLT approach based on structure-based principles compare to a strong CLT approach based on DUB principles a er six years of instruction with regard to receptive (reading and listening) and productive (writing and speaking) FFL skills?
16 CHAPTER 1 To answer this question, this study compares the learning outcomes of the two different FFL teachingprograms inDutchVWO(pre-university education).Oneprogram follows a mostly SB design realized by means of two complementary coursebooks, both of which are commonly used in the Netherlands. e other program is the AIM program, which itself complies with DUB perspectives on language development. Rather than looking at its e ects a er 3 years of instruction, the study reported in this dissertation compare an SB and a DUB approach (realized by means of coursebooks versus the AIM method, respectively) a er the full six years of pre-university education in the Netherlands. AN OVERVIEW OF THIS DISSERTATION Chapter 2 presents a brief history of foreign language teaching practices, ending with CLT, which can itself be subdivided into a weak and a strong version. It is argued that an SB view of language can be related to and equated with weak versions of CLT and a DUB view of language to strong versions. Chapter 3 presents an overview of the general design that formed the foundation of this study and the challenges faced in the study comparing the SB and DUB approaches to FFL instruction. Chapter 3 presents general information to place the separate studies that are reported in subsequent chapters in a bigger framework. It concludes with a brief summary of each study reported in Chapters 4-7. Chapter 4 explores how receptive skills develop as a function of the two di erent teaching methods a er six years of instruction. Chapter 5 does the same for writing skills and chapter 6 presents more details by exploring the use of chunks in writing. Finally, chapter 7 presents a study targeting how speaking skills develop a er six years of either one of the two teaching methods. Chapter 8, then, summarizes the ndings of the separate studies and will attempt to relate these to the SLA literature, completing the research and teaching cycle.
CHAPTER 1. Introduction 17
COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING IN PRACTICE: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW C H A P T E R 2
20 CHAPTER 2 e study reported in this dissertation aims to compare the e ects of two communicative methods of teaching French as a Foreign Language (FFL) a er six years of instruction. e rst, structure-based (SB), could be considered a “learning to use” approach and the second, Dynamic Usage-based (DUB), a “using to learn” approach. is chapter presents a brief history of some major foreign language learning approaches and assumptions as they historically shaped both the research eld and educational practices; its main aim is to detail the di erences between the two communicative approaches, explicating why a structure-based view of language is more in line with a “learning to use” approach and a usage-based view on language with a “using to learn” approach. is chapter thus builds the foundations for this dissertation’s work, linking linguistic theory with the empirical ndings of subsequent chapters.
CHAPTER 2. Communicative Language Teaching 21 LEARNING TO USE VERSUS USING TO LEARN When observing major changes in the L2 learning paradigm through time, they all represent steps in the development from a rather theoretical approach in which L2 learning was thought to contribute to the development of intellectual competence towards a more pragmatic approach, in which L2 competence was considered necessary for the development of communicative skills. Howatt (1984), describing di erent Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) practices, introduced two terms to describe these two approaches to L2 learning and development: “learning to use language”, in which L2 learning leads to L2 use, and “using to learn language”, in which L2 use leads to L2 learning (Howatt, 1984; p. 279). In order to explain the di erences, it is necessary to describe some major steps in the development of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) as a research eld rst and the insights that resulted from these steps. THE EARLY HISTORY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING Latin, which was the only foreign language studied ve centuries ago, gradually lost its status of language of spoken and written communication from the 16th century onwards, and ‘modern’ languages like French, Italian and English, started being studied as well. Until the 20th century, however, foreign language teaching in these languages was mainly inspired by the study of classical Latin in which grammar analysis and rhetoric were important elements. In so-called “grammar schools”, foreign language learning practice focused on the learning of grammar rules, verb conjugations, translation and on writing accurate sentences (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). is approach to foreign language teaching is generally referred to as the Grammar translation method and its characteristics are summarized in Table 1. TABLE 1. Characteristics of the grammar-translation method 1. The goal of foreign language learning is to be able to read its literature and to develop intellectual abilities. 2. Written skills (reading and writing) are the main focus of teaching. 3. Input is provided by bilingual (L1-L2) word lists (contextualized by means of L2 texts) and grammar rules. 4. Language practice is usually limited to writing correct sentences. 5. Lexical and grammatical accuracy are considered the most important measures in writing. 6. Deductive grammar teaching is the standard (studying the rule is followed by practice through translation). 7. The L1 is used as language of instruction. based on Richards & Rodgers (2014, pp. 6-7)
22 CHAPTER 2 FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING IN THE 20TH CENTURY In the 20th century, many factors in uenced foreign language teaching and prompted a move towards oral pro ciency as the primary target of foreign language teaching: As a result of the United States entering World War II, the US army needed uent users of di erent languages as interpreters, code-room assistants and translators. Special army programs consisted of intensive oral practice aimed at attaining a high conversational pro ciency which before that time had not been the main aim of existing foreign language courses (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). Post-World War II immigration in the United States, which was massive as illustrated by Kirk and Huyck (1954), the internalization of education and globalization led to an increase of the need for oral interaction between speakers of di erent languages outside the army. is resulted in the global spread of English for social, cultural, political, and economical purposes around the world (Hüppauf, 2004), and to a redesign of the prevalent foreign language courses at the time to facilitate oral pro ciency. Approaches like the Oral Approach and Situational Language Teaching were a result of this increased importance attributed to oral pro ciency (Richards & Rodgers, 2014) in teaching English as a foreign language. British applied linguists started studying the content of language programs systematically, using methodological principles relating to selection, gradation and presentation of lexical and grammatical L2 content. ese systematic accounts led to a fundamental change in the foreign language curriculum that spanned far beyond the British borders. In this approach to L2 teaching, which thus originated in Great Britain and came to be known as the Oral Approach (Richards & Rodgers, 2014), the choice for vocabulary to be studied was based on frequency. Attention to grammar, furthermore, was reduced to basic grammatical patterns needed to communicate. In the 1960s, a situational element was introduced as a key feature of theOral approach, whereby new linguistic items (words mainly) were embedded and o ered to learners within contextual cues and (o en visual) aids in instructional materials. is led to the use of the term Situational Language Teaching as a subtype of the Oral approach. Both the Oral approach and Situational Language Teaching considered oral skills and oral language pro ciency as the primary goal of language learning and proposed a type of behaviorist, habit-learning instructional design and an inductive approach to grammar for L2 teaching programs (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). In a behaviorist, habit-learning design, knowledge is received by the learner as input, and anchored into memory by repetitive, imitative drills before being able to use a given language construction or word in actual practice without hesitation and without thinking (French, 1955; Frisby, 1964). Around this same time period, the audiolingual approach emerged, based on the previously mentioned “Army Method” (VanPatten & Williams, 2015). In this behavioristic approach, inspired by the prominent school of behavioral psychology (Cf.
CHAPTER 2. Communicative Language Teaching 23 Skinner, 1957), repeated imitation of correct models (stimulus-response pattern drills) was seen as crucial in foreign language learning: Learning happens when a stimulus elicits behavior in the sense that it triggers a response, and reinforcement is provided to guide the learner in activating the right response: positive when the response is appropriate and negative when the response is inappropriate. Maximal use of the target language for instruction was seen as necessary to prevent the students’ L1 from interfering in this process. Where L2 performance through practice and input frequency was the primary focus of the audiolingual method, L2 competence was the primary focus in Chomsky’s linguistic theory that came to heavily in uence L2 research from the 1970s onwards. Departing from Chomskyan theorizing, the focus was very much on how such grammatical competence could be achieved (for a more nuanced take on this view, see Hulstijn et al., 2015). THE COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING (CLT) APPROACH Building on earlier language teaching developments that prioritized oral pro ciency, such as the Oral Approach and Situational Language Teaching, CLT came to dominate foreign language teaching in the world in the 1970s, and communicative competence replaced grammatical competence as the central notion in foreign language teaching. CLT approaches adopted a broader view of language in which both L2 competence and L2 performance were deemed important. Communicative competence came to be viewed as the ultimate goal of language teaching (Hymes, 1972) and an accumulative result of other competences like grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic competence (Canale & Swain, 1980). e acquisition of linguistic resources needed to serve L2 performance (Halliday, 1970) and L2 acquisition was considered to emerge on the basis of communicative acts underlying the ability to use language for di erent purposes (Widdowson, 1978). Partly coinciding and following this CLT shi was a political movement for a united Europe, with intercultural awareness of European citizens and the interaction between these citizens being considered as important tools. As a result, the Council of Europe prioritized language teaching and the further development of CLT was supported by the Council of Europe’s activities in the nal decades of the 20th century (European parliament, 2022). While the focus of a traditional syllabus at the time was generally restricted to linguistic forms like grammar and vocabulary acquisition and drills, a CLT syllabus was more skills-based and focused on communicative handling given situations or topics as well as grammar and vocabulary that came to be integrated thematically in such situations and topics (Van Ek & Alexander, 1980). And while a traditional, grammar-based methodology focused on the accurate comprehension and production of sentences and grammatical patterns, o en using teacher-fronted, lecture-type
24 CHAPTER 2 activities, the CLT approach focused on meaningful interaction in which errors were to be accepted as part of the learning process, placing uency on a par with accuracy in terms of importance. As such, CLT proponents advocated an inductive approach to the teaching of grammar, with an emphasis on pair and group work. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE CLT APPROACH IN TEACHING PRACTICES Despite these clear intentions advocating oral pro ciency, the movement towards CLT that started in the 1970s has led to di erent versions which, according to Howatt (1984), can be labeled as either “weak”, when the focus is on the acquisition of knowledge which is seen instrumental to communication or “strong”, when the focus is on communication which is seen instrumental to the acquisition of knowledge. Scholars like Dörnyei (2009), Waters (2012), Lightbown and Spada (2013) and Richards and Rodgers (2014) all argue that most CLT inspired teaching programs in the world can still be considered structure-based in that such programs continue to have a strong focus on learning linguistic items (grammar rules, words, spelling, pronunciation) and on learning comprehension strategies rather than their productive counterparts. As a result, many CLT programs should in actual fact be considered a weak version of CLT in accordance with the distinction made by Howatt (1984). is view was supported by Waters (2012) who, a er reviewing CLT approaches and methods since 1995, found evidence of increased advocacy of the “communicating to learn” orientation at the theoretical SLA research level, while at the level of classroom practice the “learning to communicate” orientation had come to dominate. According to Richards and Rodgers (2014), it was the initial lack of theoretical insights as to L2 language learning, combined with the vast popularity of the CLT approach all over the world in the early years of CLT, that might very well have led to this great variety of di erent, sometimes even seemingly incompatible, instructional designs that all fall under the umbrella term CLT. Long (2000) pointed out that, at the time, there was not one widely accepted theory of language learning and Chomsky’s view of language focused mainly on syntax and grammar, with rather predictable rules. CLT practices were thus implicitly based on a vast amount of formal or structural theory of language, and there was only a limited amount of theory on language learning that lay at the basis of CLT teaching practices (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). Only Johnson (1982) proposed elements like “real communication” and “meaningful tasks” to support the language learning process. In later stages of CLT practices, however, Johnson (1984) and Littlewood (1984) proposed a skill-model of learning in support of CLT teaching, involving cognitive and behavioral aspects. is model was based on di erent existing theories at the time: First, the creativeconstruction hypothesis, which states that input from the target language is essential
CHAPTER 2. Communicative Language Teaching 25 and language learning naturally results from this input as it triggers learners to constantly formulate hypotheses and have prospective expectations about the patterns of the language (cf. Dulay & Burt, 1975, who later inspired Stephen Krashen to formulate his monitor theory); Second, the interactional theory, which claims that language acquisition results from the natural interaction between children and their environment, more speci cally, parents or caregivers (cf. Rudd & Lambert, 2011) and, nally, Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning, which postulates that language learning primarily occurs during social interactions between individuals followed by individual internalization of social behaviors (cf. Lantolf, 1994). As a result of the introduction of this skill-model of learning, CLT teaching practices came to be founded on key notions such as input-focused attention (creative construction theory), meaningful interaction (interactional theory), negotiation of meaning, feedback and sca olding (sociocultural theory). KRASHEN’S HYPOTHESES Another important shi of focus occurred when Stephen Krashen introduced di erent hypotheses relating to second language acquisition. As part of the monitor hypothesis, Krashen (1978) explains the relationship between acquisition and learning: the acquisition system is responsible for spontaneous L2 production, while the learning system acts as a safeguard by monitoring and editing L2 production. According to Krashen, the role of the monitor is minor and varies per learner as a function of, for instance, the degree of self-con dence. In his acquisition-learning hypothesis, Krashen (1981) distinguishes between language acquisition resulting from a subconscious process in an inductive and learnercentered approach and language learning that emerges from a conscious process of learning through formal instruction in a deductive and teacher-centered approach. According to Krashen, language learning o en involves translation and the use of the L1 and only results in language knowledge, while language acquisition focuses on communication and results in mastery of the language in conversation. In the a ective lter hypothesis, Krashen (1982) distinguishes a number of a ective variables which facilitate second language acquisition: motivation, self-con dence, anxiety and personality. In Krashen’s view, successful learners are extroverted and selfcon dent, have a low level of anxiety and a high level of motivation. Low motivation, low self-esteem, anxiety and introversion, on the other hand, can raise the a ective lter and impede language acquisition. In his input hypothesis, Krashen (1985) explains that the process of acquisition starts with comprehensible input which he de nes as “i+1” (one step beyond the current level of linguistic competence) in line with Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). Krashen claims that language acquisition follows a natural order, which should be guiding for teachers when designing a syllabus.
26 CHAPTER 2 Finally, in the natural order hypothesis, Krashen (1987) suggests that, although studies clearly show a natural and predictable order with regard to the acquisition of grammatical structures, a language syllabus should never be sequenced in line with this natural order. Although Krashen’s hypotheses have received much criticism (for an excellent overview, see Zafar, 2009), they are particularly valuable because they have shed a di erent light on the process of learning a foreign language. Based on the then prevalent Chomskyan view of language and innateness, Krashen’s hypotheses added to the growing importance of exposure to the L2 and of the implicitness of (subconscious) language acquisition. A decade later, Lewis introduced the lexical approach (Lewis, 1993), in which grammatical rules were viewed as lexical patterns. In support of the lexical approach, Schmitt and Schmitt (2000) developed a cognition-based learning theory based on the niteness of human short-term memory, which drives our brain to prefer storing lexical chunks (prefabricated sequences, xed expressions, grammatical patterns, etc.) instead of individual words. Under this premise and based on these developments, the role of grammar teaching was signi cantly reduced, but the movement was also met with considerable reservations in foreign language teaching, perhaps because the newly proposed methods were not seen as consistent with the still dominant and widely accepted Chomskyan linguistic theory. FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING AS INFORMED BY SLA RESEARCH VanPatten and Williams (2015, p. 9-11) summarize what we know about SLA as a result of a vast research tradition. Table 2 lists their 10 most robustly attested observations with regard to SLA, based on well-established empirical ndings, which are very much in line with a strong version of CLT. TABLE 2. Ten observations for effective L2 learning 1. Exposure to input is a prerequisite for SLA. 2. A considerable amount of SLA happens incidentally. 3. Learners come to know more than what they have been exposed to in the input. 4. Learners’ output (speech) often follows predicable paths with predictable stages in the acquisition of a given structure. 5. SLA is variable in its outcome. 6. SLA is variable across linguistic subsystems. 7. There are limits as to the effects of frequency of exposure on SLA. 8. A learner’s first language does not exert great influence on the SLA trajectory. 9. There are limits as to the effects of instruction on SLA. 10. There are limits as to the effects of output (learner production) on language acquisition. Based on VanPatten and Williams (2015, p. 9-11)
CHAPTER 2. Communicative Language Teaching 27 Unfortunately, despite the advances in theoretical insights into SLA, strong CLT practices with a great deal of exposure and interaction only sparsely came to be implemented in the foreign classroom, and teachers to this day o en prefer weaker CLT versions with remnants of the older grammar-translation approach. Dörnyei (2009) gives two pragmatic reasons as to why teachers all over the world continue to adopt such approaches. Teachers rely heavily on ready-to-use textbooks, as they o er safe and easyto-implement teaching materials in situations where class sizes are predominantly large and where teachers experience a huge workload or have insu cient L2 communicative competence. Moreover, knowledge and skills that emerge from such weak CLT approaches can easily be assessed by discrete-point (multiple choice) tests (Dörnyei, 2009, p.273). In the same vein, Lightbown and Spada (2013) state that, despite the communicative intentions proclaimed by the CLT movement, language teaching all over the world can still be characterized as predominantly structure-based (SB), evidenced by modern coursebooks designed from CLT perspectives. By extension, most language teaching practices in secondary schools around the world can still be characterized as explicit and grammar based. STRUCTURE-BASED VERSUS USAGE-BASED VIEWS ON LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGE LEARNING As Long (2000) pointed out, at the time when CLT was introduced, there was no widely accepted linguistic theory that could directly support such communicative language teaching and its emphasis on exposure. From the grammar-translation method to communicative methods, the basic view of what language is, has remained structurebased. Chomskyan and structural linguistics proponents view language as a rulegoverned complex system, where “form”, “meaning” and “use” are seen as separate entities and the focus is usually on syntax and grammar, which are very much seen as the core components of language (Long, 2000). is can be illustrated on the basis of a short French narrative (with an idiomatic English translation gloss) as an example. (1) Il était une fois une maman cochonne qui avait trois petits cochons. Once upon a time there was a mama pig who had three little pigs. From a structure-based perspective, the sentence in example 1 could be broken down into major constituents and analyzed further from the syntactic to the morphological level, focusing on gender, agreement and tense. Implicit to such an approach is the consideration that a speaker builds such a sentence by applying grammatical rules while producing it and that, over time and as second language pro ciency increases, this process becomes (more) automatic. Even though SB views do not deny the existence
28 CHAPTER 2 of meaning and language use, the focus is rst and foremost on grammatical form, with meaning and use added as separate components at a later stage. Example 2 below illustrates this deconstructing process. (2) Il (Subject-pronoun) était (predicator-third person singular-past tense) une fois (adverbial-noun phrase) une maman cochonne [qui / avait / trois petits cochons]. (Subject Attribute-noun phrase modi ed by a relative clause) Another way of approaching this example is through the lens of usage-based theory (for an overview, see Ellis & Wul , 2015). A usage-based view does not deny that sentences have major constituents that can themselves be broken down and analyzed, nor that there are regularities in language, but usage-based approaches emphasize that such categories are superimposed at the analytical level by linguists and, for learners, they do not necessarily have any psychological reality (Cf., Devitt, 2003). Instead, the premise underlying usage-based approaches to language learning is that a speaker uses sequences of sounds (forms) that have been used and that have been encountered in similar contexts (use) with a similar denotation (meaning). Form-use-meaning combinations that have been used most frequently, and are thus most salient for learners, are the ones that are typically learned rst, that become entrenched in the mind, and are eventually produced automatically. Some of these sequences are rather xed (as in chunks or other multi-word sequences) but others have open slots, and the sequence can form a template for new-to-be-acquired sequences and constructions (as in Verb-Argument Constructions). Example 3 illustrates form-function combinations. (3) Il était une fois (a xed phrase that is used to introduce a fairy tale) une maman cochonne (a being) qui avait (expressing some possession) trois petits cochons. (some beings) Departing from this foundation, usage-based theories thus view language as a complex and dynamic system where form, meaning and use are integrated and continually interact and give rise to new utterances. Tomasello (2003) (and many others) have applied usage-based theorizing to rst language acquisition and, more recently, usagebased theories (strongly aligned with Cognitive Linguistics) have found their way into SLA (Bybee, 2009, Cadierno & Eskildson, 2015, Tyler & Ortega, 2016, Ellis et al., 2016, Verspoor et al., 2012, Schmid, 2020). e main di erence between structural and usage-based theories, then, is that language from a usage-based perspective is not seen as a largely independent systematicwww.ridderprint.nl