Young Learners in Efl Contexts

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Young Learners in EFL Contexts:
Considering a Focus on Forms Visual Curriculum
Timothy Brockley
Anaheim University, EDU560, Assessment Two
May 17, 2008

Introduction

A focus on forms visual curriculum (FoFsVC) is a structural syllabus in a screen-fronted classroom setting. (click here) The FoFsVC is a 'micro-curriculum'. There is a specific audience for which it is intended— medium and large (8~40+) young learner (elementary school) classes in EFL (English as a Foreign Language meaning English taught in non-English speaking environments) settings.

The emphasis is on interaction as a means of uptake. The teacher's role as facilitator is meant to engage students in interaction and scaffolding. Meaning is intended to be contained in the images presented on the screen: the message is visible and the related code is the focus. The intention in each lesson is an extensive versus an intensive presentation of grammar— related grammatical forms versus a redundancy of a particular feature.

General area for investigation

This study specifically investigates the interaction involved in a focus on forms visual classroom setting and evaluates this interaction in terms of learning opportunities (Crabbe, 2003). It intends to determine if learning takes place over a period of three months by using oral and written tests. Comparisons are made within the subjects (test results before and after instruction). There is no attempt to measure this curriculum against any other syllabus, approach, method or style of teaching young EFL learners.

Rationale

This study examines a focus on forms approach to teaching English to elementary level EFL learners. Lessons are exclusively driven by listening and speaking exercises as there is a perceived need in EFL contexts to improve oral communication (versus written). I believe attempts should be made to aid young learners in EFL contexts in speech production.

It's worth mentioning that focus on forms pedagogy in EFL environments has traditionally been practiced through writing (matching, fill-in-the-blank and sentence re-formation being the most popular) and audio-lingual methods ('Repeat after me.' or 'Listen and repeat.') without regards to interaction or scaffolding. In contrast, the focus on forms visual curriculum utilizes classroom interaction to promote learning. This approach hasn't seen much (if any) investigation.

Two other reasons support a rationale for this study:
1) Computer screens and projected visual information (images, digital movies and beyond) will most likely replace textbooks in some classroom settings (it seems to be a 'when' not an 'if' question) in the near future. It may also be suggested that images that focus learner attention by meaningful representation and their ability to hold the attention of young learners are images that will remain salient throughout the learning (uptake) and acquistional (intake) processes. Therefore this type of curriculum merits study.

2) In terms of second language theory, there is a general consensus that meaning-based curricula (for example, communicative or task-based) are optimal in young learner classrooms. This study proposes a possible complement to these useful paradigms. Focus on forms in a new context (interaction

focused and visually oriented) should be examined as an addition to existing syllabi (Is there room for one more?).

Literature Review

In terms of grammar teaching, DeKeyser (1994) explains that 'deductive means that the rules are given before any examples are seen' and that 'inductive means that rules are inferred from examples presented (first)' while 'implicit means that no rules are formulated' and 'explicit means rules are formulated (either by the teacher or the student, either before or after examples/practice)'.

The case for deductive versus inductive grammar instruction has been made 'from a recent study that isolated grammar instruction that is deductive (i.e., involving...
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