Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis in language teaching

The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis is founded on the assumption that learners tend to transfer grammatical and phonological features peculiar to their native tongue to the second language. The psychological basis of this Transfer Theory is elaborated and formulated within a stimulus-response behaviorist theory of psychology. The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis attempts to compare two given languages in order to predict and hence eliminate or reduce certain real or potential sources of error in learning the foreign language. For example, French learners of English will tend to omit the /h/ sound of a word like "house". German speakers may utter the word "old" with a final /t/ sound and many nationalities will have difficulty in producing the voiced consonant of the definite article "the" and its voiceless counterpart as in "thin". Research into the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis found that few grammatical errors could be attributed to interference from the native tongue. However, at the phonological level, it was concluded that there was a high degree of reliability and that the differences existing between English and other languages, are quite often the prime cause of manifold interference. It was also recognized that the greater these phonological similarities or differences are the easier or more acute the learning process will be. Following the results of the research, a number of books were published that explain the typical phonological difficulties encountered by specific language groups. When the language of the learner is inaccurate the teacher needs to ascertain if the error is one of grammar or pronunciation and within the former, if the problem is one of morphology*.

The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis can be useful in determining the source of learner-errors. Some errors may be interpreted as grammatical failures when they could be phonologically based. For instance, in Italian no final consonant clusters feature (with the exception of loan words) consequently, Italians may produce the verb "liked" as "like" or "he eats" as "he eat" where the teacher may conclude that the student has not mastered the formation of past tenses, or the third person singular. However, a comparative phonological study, based on a Contrastive Analysis, may reveal that the error is caused by the differences in phonotactics** where English permits more than one consonant in a final position and Italian does not. The teacher may decide that an error does not impede effective communication and therefore does not require remedial attention. Where corrective treatment is needed understanding the source of a problem will help the teacher to deal with it more successfully! Bound morpheme There are two basic types of morphemes: unbound and bound. Unbound or free-standing morphemes are individual elements that can stand alone within a sentence, such as , , , and . They are essentially what most of us call words. Bound morphemes are meaning-bearing units of language, such as prefixes and suffixes, that are attached to unbound morphemes. They cannot stand alone. "Their attachment modifies the unbound morphemes in such things as number or syntactic category. Adding the bound morpheme to the unbound morpheme changes the noun's number; the addition of the to changes tense. Similarly, the addition of to changes the verb to a noun." (Stephen Kucer and Cecilia Silva, Teaching the Dimensions of Literacy, Routledge, 2006) "Linguistics recognizes two classes of bound morphemes. The first class is called inflectional morphemes and their influence on a base word is predictable. Inflectional morphemes modify the grammatical class of words by signaling a change in number, person, gender, tense, and so on, but they do not shift the base form into another word class. When 'house' becomes 'houses,' it is still a noun even though you have added the plural morpheme 's.' . . . "Derivational morphemes constitute the second class of morphemes and they modify a word according to its lexical and grammatical class. They result in more profound changes on base words. The word 'style' is a noun, but if I make it 'stylish,' then it is an adjective. In English, derivational morphemes include suffixes (e.g., 'ish,' 'ous,' 'er,' 'y,' 'ate,' and 'able') and prefixes (e.g., 'un,' 'im,' 're,' and 'ex')." Static verbs Verbs in English can be classified into two categories: stative verbs and dynamic verbs. Dynamic verbs (sometimes referred to as "action verbs") usually describe actions we can take, or things that happen; stative verbs usually refer to a state or condition which is not changing or likely to change. The difference is important, because stative verbs cannot normally be used in the continuous (BE + ING) forms. This will explain the differences between the two types of verb, and give lots of examples of each kind. play activity She plays tennis every Friday. Dynamic verbs, as you can see from the table above, can be used in the simple and perfect forms (plays, played, has played, had played) as well as the continuous or progressive forms (is playing, was playing, has been playing, had been playing). Stative verbs Stative verbs usually refer to a state or condition which is quite static or unchanging. They can be divided into verbs of perception or cognition (which refer to things in the mind), or verbs of relation (which describe the relationships between things). Here are some examples: hate perception I hate chocolate. Note that we CANNOT use these verbs in the continuous (progressive) forms; you CAN'T say "*Yong is owning three cars." Owning is a state, not an action, so it is always in the simple form. Allomorph An allomorph is one of two or more complementary morphs which manifest a morpheme in its different phonological or morphological environments. The allomorphs of a morpheme are derived from phonological rules and any morphophonemic rules that may apply to that morpheme. Examples (English) The plural morpheme in English, usually written as '-s', has at least three allomorphs: • [-s] as in [hQts] 'hats' • [-z] as in [d&u0254;gz] 'dogs' • [«z] as in [bŒks«z] 'boxes' Zero article zero article (null-artikkel): the absence of an article in a noun phrase. Indefinite plural nouns occur regularly with the zero article (Carrots are good for you). Likewise, uncountable nouns with indefinite/non-specific reference usually have the zero article (I've got sand in my shoes). Furthermore, proper nouns normally occur with no article (Peter just left). Zero definite article is a speaking behavior where the definite article the or a is not used. The definite article is sometimes omitted before words such as prison, school, bed, and (in non-American dialects) hospital, hence: • She is in hospital. • He was taken to prison. when this is a generalisation rather than a specific location. Where a particular location is meant, then the definite article is used, viz. • He was taken to the prison. • She was collected from the hospital. • We were jumping on the bed. In some nonstandard forms of British English, the is omitted in places that standard English has it, leading to sentences such as: • I'm going to shop. (I'm going to the shop) • I'm driving down road. (I'm driving down the road) It's possible to discern, for example, in Lancashire and Yorkshire English accents a minuscule pause in place of the definite article. Often there is a slight staccato on the preceding word. i.e., to is reduced to a simple t or tuh. Thus, "Am going tuh _ pub", or "Am going __ pub" where to is entirely replaced by a pause. The "t" sound may also be appended to the preceding word even if the pause is present. Syllabus design Syllabus Design demonstrates, in a practical way, the principles involved in planning and designing an effective syllabus. It examines important concepts such as needs analysis, goal-setting, and content specification, and serves as an excellent introduction for teachers who want to gain a better understanding of syllabus design in order to evaluate, modify, and adapt the syllabuses with which they work. SIX TYPES OF SYLLABI Although six different types of language teaching syllabi are treated here as though each occurred "purely," in practice, these types rarely occur independently of each other. Almost all actual language teaching syllabi are combinations of two or more of the types defined here. For a given course, one type of syllabus usually dominates, while other types of content may be combined with it. Furthermore, the six types of syllabi are not entirely distinct from each other. For example, the distinction between skill-based and task-based syllabi may be minimal. In such cases, the distinguishing factor is often the way in which the instructional content is used in the actual teaching procedure. The characteristics, differences, strengths, and weaknesses of individual syllabi are defined as follows: 1. "A structural (formal) syllabus." The content of language teaching is a collection of the forms and structures, usually grammatical, of the language being taught. Examples include nouns, verbs, adjectives, statements, questions, subordinate clauses, and so on. 2. "A notional/functional syllabus." The content of the language teaching is a collection of the functions that are performed when language is used, or of the notions that language is used to express. Examples of functions include: informing, agreeing, apologizing, requesting; examples of notions include size, age, color, comparison, time, and so on. 3. "A situational syllabus." The content of language teaching is a collection of real or imaginary situations in which language occurs or is used. A situation usually involves several participants who are engaged in some activity in a specific setting. The language occurring in the situation involves a number of functions, combined into a plausible segment of discourse. The primary purpose of a situational language teaching syllabus is to teach the language that occurs in the situations. Examples of situations include: seeing the dentist, complaining to the landlord, buying a book at the book store, meeting a new student, and so on. 4. "A skill-based syllabus." The content of the language teaching is a collection of specific abilities that may play a part in using language. Skills are things that people must be able to do to be competent in a language, relatively independently of the situation or setting in which the language use can occur. While situational syllabi group functions together into specific settings of language use, skill-based syllabi group linguistic competencies (pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse) together into generalized types of behavior, such as listening to spoken language for the main idea, writing well-formed paragraphs, giving effective oral presentations, and so on. The primary purpose of skill-based instruction is to learn the specific language skill. A possible secondary purpose is to develop more general competence in the language, learning only incidentally any information that may be available while applying the language skills. 5. "A task-based syllabus." The content of the teaching is a series of complex and purposeful tasks that the students want or need to perform with the language they are learning. The tasks are defined as activities with a purpose other than language learning, but, as in a content-based syllabus, the performance of the tasks is approached in a way that is intended to develop second language ability. Language learning is subordinate to task performance, and language teaching occurs only as the need arises during the performance of a given task. Tasks integrate language (and other) skills in specific settings of language use. Task-based teaching differs from situation-based teaching in that while situational teaching has the goal of teaching the specific language content that occurs in the situation (a predefined product), task-based teaching has the goal of teaching students to draw on resources to complete some piece of work (a process). The students draw on a variety of language forms, functions, and skills, often in an individual and unpredictable way, in completing the tasks. Tasks that can be used for language learning are, generally, tasks that the learners actually have to perform in any case. Examples include: applying for a job, talking with a social worker, getting housing information over the telephone, and so on. 6. "A content-based-syllabus." The primary purpose of instruction is to teach some content or information using the language that the students are also learning. The students are simultaneously language students and students of whatever content is being taught. The subject matter is primary, and language learning occurs incidentally to the content learning. The content teaching is not organized around the language teaching, but vice-versa. Content-based language teaching is concerned with information, while task-based language teaching is concerned with communicative and cognitive processes. An example of content-based language teaching is a science class taught in the language the students need or want to learn, possibly with linguistic adjustment to make the science more comprehensible. In general, the six types of syllabi or instructional content are presented beginning with the one based most on structure, and ending with the one based most on language use. Language is a relationship between form and meaning, and most instruction emphasizes one or the other side of this relationship. What is needs analysis? How is it completed? Why is it important? In simplest terms, a needs analysis includes all the activities used to collect information about your students' learning needs, wants, wishes, desires, etc… The process also sometimes involves looking at the expectations and requirements of other interested parties such as the teacher/teacher's aid/ tutor (you), administrators, financial supporters, and other people who may be impacted by the program (such as students' family members or employers). A needs analysis can be very formal, extensive and time consuming, or it can be informal, narrowly focused and quick. Some of resources for conducting a needs analysis may include surveys and questionnaires, test scores, and interviews. The information gleaned from a needs analysis can be used to help you define program goals. These goals can then be stated as specific teaching objectives, which in turn will function as the foundation on which to develop lesson plans, materials, tests, assignments and activities. Basically, a needs analysis will help you to clarify the purposes of your language program. How a needs analysis is completed will depend on the situation, who is doing it, why it is being done, etc… For example, in the first class I ever taught as a student teacher, my team-teacher and I really wanted to customize our instruction. We wanted our students to feel like we valued their input and opinions. We wanted them to see that we would implement suggestions that they gave us so that they would feel that this was really their class. We put together a survey and a questionnaire to give our students on the first day as a sort of informal needs analysis that we could then use to help develop our lessons. We handed them out, and immediately panicked when we realized our students couldn't understand a lick of what we had just given them and that half of our first day's lesson was shot. We ended up quickly sketching a mouth, an ear, a pencil, and an open book. By using our simple drawings and gestures we were able to get our students to raise their hands for the skill that was most important to them. After most of our students raised their hands for the mouth (speaking) and the ear (listening) we recognized that our detailed questionnaire and probing survey that focused primarily on reading and writing was not the right tool for needs analysis for that class. We learned from that initial needs analyses, and as we continued to implement needs analysis through informal assessment over the semester to tweak our lesson planning, we became more flexible and better at figuring out our students needs and how best to meet them. Turn tacking Because conversations need to be organised, there are rules or principles for establishing who talks and then who talks next. This process is called turn-taking. There are two guiding principles in conversations: 1. Only one person should talk at a time. 2. We cannot have silence. The transition between one speaker and the next must be as smooth as possible and without a break. We have different ways of indicating that a turn will be changed: • Formal methods: for example, selecting the next speaker by name or raising a hand. • Adjacency pairs: for instance, a question requires an answer. • Intonation: for instance, a drop in pitch or in loudness. • Gesture: for instance, a change in sitting position or an expression of inquiry. • The most important device for indicating turn-taking is through a change in gaze direction or eye contact.That means when speakers are coming to the end of a turn, they might look up more frequently, finishing with a steady gaze. This is a sign to the listener that the turn is finishing and that he or she can then come in. Turn taking mechanisms vary between cultures and between languages. The rules of turn-taking are designed to help conversation take place smoothly. Turn-taking systems can provide strong motivations for non-speakers to listen closely to the current-speaker: only by keeping track of upcoming transition-places can an aspiring next-speaker know when to speak; and there is always the possibility that one may be called upon by the current-speaker. The maxim of quality The maxim of quality or Be Truthful is one of the four conversational maxims suggested by philosopher Grice.In the quality of maxim one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.According to the quality of maxim an utterance must at least be consistent with the preceding discourse in order to be true.The maxim of quality can be summed up by the following two characteristics. Do not say what you believe to be false. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence. Perlocutionary act The term perlocutionary act, introduced by J. L. Austin in his work How to Do Things With Words is used in speech act theory to designate an utterance that has an effect upon the actions, thoughts, or feelings of the listener, e.g. convincing, alarming, insulting, boring. The perlocutionary effect of an utterance may differ from the intended effect of the speaker's illocutionary act. Examples Here are some examples of perlocutionary acts: • Persuading • Convincing • Scaring • Insulting • Getting the addressee to do something Unlike the notion of locutionary act, which describes the linguistic function of an utterance, a perlocutionary effect is in some sense external to the performance. It may be thought of, in a sense, as the effect of the illocutionary act. Therefore, when examining perlocutionary acts, the effect on the hearer or reader is emphasized. As an example, consider the following utterance: "By the way, I have a CD of Debussy; would you like to borrow it?" Its illocutionary function is an offer, while its intended perlocutionary effect might be to impress the listener, or to show a friendly attitude, or to encourage an interest in a particular type of music. Conversational maxim A conversational maxim is any of four rules which were proposed by philosopher Paul Grice.They are as follows. Maxim of Quality: Truth • Do not say what you believe to be false. • Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence. Maxim of Quantity: Information • Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange. • Do not make your contribution more informative than is required. Maxim of Relation: Relevance • Be relevant. Maxim of Manner: Clarity • Avoid obscurity of expression. • Avoid ambiguity. • Be brief ("avoid unnecessary prolixity"). • Be orderly These maxims may be better understood as describing the assumptions listeners normally make about the way speakers will talk, rather than prescriptions for how one ought to talk. There have been criticisms of these maxims, both for not reflecting the full range of human communication, including dishonesty, and also for being parochial, not universal in terms of cultural accuracy. However, as guides to politeness or giving due consideration to your listener, they are still worth knowing. The conversational maxims, along with the cooperative principle, partly account for conversational implicatures. Discourse analysis Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken or signed language use. The objects of discourse analysis—discourse, writing, talk, conversation, communicative event, etc.—are variously defined in terms of coherent sequences of sentences, propositions, speech acts or turns-at-talk. Contrary to much of traditional linguistics, discourse analysts not only study language use 'beyond the sentence boundary', but also prefer to analyze 'naturally occurring' language use, and not invented examples. This is known as corpus linguistics; text linguistics is related. Topics of discourse analysis include: • The various levels or dimensions of discourse, such as sounds (intonation, etc.), gestures, syntax, the lexicon, style, rhetoric, meanings, speech acts, moves, strategies, turns and other aspects of interaction • Genres of discourse (various types of discourse in politics, the media, education, science, business, etc.) • The relations between discourse and the emergence of syntactic structure • The relations between text (discourse) and context • The relations between discourse and power • The relations between discourse and interaction • The relations between discourse and cognition and memory An adjacency pair, used in conversational analysis, is a pair of conversational turns by two different speakers such that the production of the first turn (called a first-pair part) makes a response (a second-pair part) of a particular kind relevant. For example, a question, such as "what's your name?", requires the addressee to provide an answer in the next conversational turn. A failure to give an immediate response is noticeable and accountable. Many actions in conversation are accomplished through adjacency pair sequences, for example: • offer-acceptance/rejection • greeting-greeting • complaint-excuse/remedy • request-acceptance/denial Indirect speech acts Searle has introduced the notion of an 'indirect speech act',by which he attempts to explain how it is possible that a speaker can say something and mean it, but additionally mean something else. Applying a conception of such illocutionary acts according to which they are (roughly) acts of saying something with the intention of communicating with an audience, he describes indirect speech acts as follows: "In indirect speech acts the speaker communicates to the hearer more than he actually says by way of relying on their mutually shared background information, both linguistic and nonlinguistic, together with the general powers of rationality and inference on the part of the hearer." An account of such act, it follows, will require such things as an analysis of mutually shared background information about the conversation, as well as of rationality and linguistic conventions. Indirect speech acts are commonly used to reject proposals and to make requests. For example, a speaker asks, "Would you like to meet me for coffee?" and another replies, "I have class." The second speaker used an indirect speech act to reject the proposal. This is indirect because the literal meaning of "I have class" does not entail any sort of rejection.