Let us examine these two trends in some detail.
Teachers have found that a close adherence to the listening-speaking-reading-writing order has not always been effective and brought the desired results.
On the other hand a lack of such adherence has not proved harmful. They has also called into question the theory that speech is primary and reading and writing are secondary manifestations. Such theoretical and experimental rethinking has resulted in the current trend toward teaching and testing the various language skills in more integrated way. The close procedure provides an interesting and thought-provoking exercise, which trains the students to look carefully at all structural clues and to range around within a semantic field for related concerts. It is a good preparation for careful reading and a useful overall written test.
The teachers no longer feel the need to defer or widely separate reading and writing lessons from listening and speaking activities.
Similarly the prohibition against using the student's native language has been considerably relaxed. It is just more efficient to give explanations and instructions in the native language because it affords more time for really meaningful practice in English.
Notable among current trends is the more practical recognition of the varying needs of learners. If, for instance, a learner needs a reading knowledge of English above all else, then reading must have priority, and the learner must learn this skill through specific guided practice in reading.
Another question is whether the teacher should polish learner's structure so as to exclude a change of making a mistake. That "prohibition" of errors way largely due to the fear that mistakes would contribute to the creation of a bad habit. Now that the "habit theory" of language acquisition has been challenged and creative aspects of language learning emphasised, the teacher is freed from this fear. Student's creative involvement is more important to the learning process than the mere avoiding of errors (this doesn't mean that the teacher should not correct the student and provide necessary drill when appropriate).
Teachers for some time have felt a need of moving from A-LM (with its rigid structure pattern) to a less controlled situation in which the student can communicate his own ideas. Classroom activities may be grouped into four categories:
Examples of completely manipulative activity would be:
a) a drill in which the students merely repeat sentences after the teacher;
b) a simple substitution drill ( by showing a picture or explaining a scene from the students experience). The latter exercise could be made into a predominantly manipulative drill, that is it would include a small element of communication).
In a more advanced class the students retell a story the teacher has given them. Finally, an example of pure communication would be a free conversation among the members of the class, such as a role-playing, conference, etc.)
Cognitive Code-Learning Theory (CC-LT) or the Trend toward Cognitive Activity
The trend toward a more active use of the students' mental powers probably represents the most important effort of the cognitive theory of language acquisition. Advocates of the A-LM often advised the teacher to keep students "active" - since, they said, when a student is active he is learning. They advised him to have all his students saying things aloud in English during as much of the class period as possible. This was the chief reason for doing so much choral work. In this way the greatest number of
students could be actively participating - "using the language" as it was called .
Language learning is viewed as rule acquisition, not habit formation. Instruction is often individualized: learners are responsible for their own learning. Reading and writing are once again as important as listening and speaking; errors are viewed as inevitable.
But the utility of such "active" use of the language has been challenged by proponents of CC-LT. They point out that the mere mechanical repetition of language forms is in reality passive rather than active learning, for it is primarily - sometimes almost entirely - a physical, mechanical sort of activity. It does not begin to engage the student's full mental powers. CC-LT, as a FLT method, is based on the following principal assumptions:
1. language is a system of signs, governed by its own rules;
2. CC-LT implies recognition of form, perception of meaning, relations of universals and particulars, generalisation and analogy;
3. the assimilation of material is directly proportional to the degree of its comprehension;
4. language is more than a system of habits which can be formed through
5. language learning is a creative process, therefore the student should
be as mentally active as possible in all assigned work:
6. a) drills and exercises should be meaningful;
b) deductive use of exercises designed to teach grammar structures (deductive explanations, i.e. rule prior to practice, starting with the rule and then offering examples to show how this rule applies);
c) rote learning is to be avoided;
d) reading and writing should be taught at early stages along with
listening and speaking;
e) occasional use of student's native language for explanation of new grammar and vocabulary is beneficial.
The cognitive principles of learning can conveniently be
summarised under three headings:
1. the need for experience;
2. the process of assimilation;
3. developmental stages.
These three principles are not only suited to adult learners but they have been readily adopted in the primary school, and the following are suggestions for practicing cognitive principles in the classroom with younger children:
a) Give experience of the language they are learning - teach them poems, rhymes, songs, tell them stories, talk to them.
b) Give them activities - painting, modeling, playing game, etc.