RE: [xmca] Narrowing minds in classroom discourse

From: jose david herazo <jherazo4 who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jul 17 2008 - 07:17:29 PDT

HI all:
I very much agree on David's comments on the PPP sequence and its contradictions. I would add that in most cases the production moment becomes production-for-display rather than production for communication. Besides learners not producing the expected textlet, it also happens that they usually discover "the trick of the task" and produce it just to keep the teacher happy. In my opinion, this rendering the free production moment an unauthentic one. I think the PPP approach assigns a lesser goal to communication, not only because it relegates it to the end, but because its pedagogical purpose seems to be to evaluate if the presented (and then practiced forms) were produced. Communication (discourse construction) should be a learning event.
UNiversidad de Córdoba (Colombia)
> Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 09:56:33 -0700> From: vaughndogblack who-is-at> Subject: Re: [xmca] Narrowing minds in classroom discourse> To: mcole who-is-at;> CC: > > Let me try to integrate Mike's comments on my (invented) data with some real data, and also with the ongoing discussion on "multi-modal" discourse, by arguing that we need to aim at discovering the ways in which modes of discourse are integrated rather than simply discovering them in layers. > > To me Kress' remark to the effect that the world that is shown is a different world from the world that is told is a weakness of multi-modal discourse and not a strength. To put things in the harshest possible light, I want to argue that multi-modal teaching without integration is bad teaching.> > A persistent problem in language teaching is the organization of material according to a P-P-P (Present-Practice-Produce) paradigm. The organizational principle is basically "closed-open", that is, the teacher presents a fixed textlet (word, phrase, sentence pattern), the children practice it under controlled circumstances (Look and listen, listen and repeat, listen and answer) and then some situation is contrived in which the children are allowed to "spontaneously" produce it.> > Contradictions abound. The "Presentation" contradiction is that the contextual information needed to present meaning (and not just sound) is often far more complex than the actual text being contextualized (as we say in Korean, the "belly button is bigger than the belly"). > > The "Practice" contradiction is that copying is a qualitatively different operation from intelligent imitation, and very often children can "Look and listen" with complete understanding, find it easy to "Listen and repeat" accurately if mindlessly, but cannot seem to do both at the same time; it's as if the former is undermining the latter and vice versa.> > The "Production" contradiction is that if children reproduce the textlet we are teaching, it cannot be considered to be true free production, but if they ignore the textlet we are teaching and simply improvise or ad lib, it's not altogether clear why we needed Presentation and Practice--why didn't we just start with Production?> > In actual lessons, teacher avoid these contradictions skillfully. They use pictures to provide contextual information, but they also ask "open-closed" questions of the sort I pointed to in order to make sure the kids have used the picture to construct a workable setting, characters, and set of problems for the text to come. They do not simply proceed in the direction of greater openness, but rather "close down" the options so that kids can predict the text. The discourse I quoted came from precisely this segment of the lesson, and as Mike points out each language game presented has a very important purpose. > > But because the contradictions are inherent in the PPP theory itself, they never seem to go away. The best teachers find themselves presenting into the void, even though they know from practice that it's better to begin with a greeting, an overview of lesson aims, a review of the last lesson, etc. The most thoughtful teachers, faced with a model lesson or a presentation or a workshop, find themselves treating a classroom of children like an empty blackboard simply because that is what our PPP theory demands. So in order to understand the structure of a lesosn, we need to look at how it grows upwards from the interactive roots as well as how it descends downwards from the curricular fruits and foliage. > > In his analysis of how scientific texts integrate words and graphics, Lemke identifies three generalized semiotic functions, the orientational, the presentational, and the organizational. I find Lemke's idea FAR more useful than Kress's, because it suggests immediately three semiotic moves, which we DO in fact find in classroom disourse, but in integrated mode rather than in multimodal form. Best of all, we find it on almost every level of discourse!> > On the utterance level:> > T: Look! (orientational)> T: This is Jinho. (presentational)> T: What's his name? Anybody? (organizational)> > On the exchange level, we see the same thing. I hope the centering function works on this, but if it doesn't you can see that the following exchange between a native speaking teaching assistant and a group of Korean fifth graders will have a "wine-glass" shape if you block it off and centre it on your word processing programme. > > > T: Let's see who we are going to be studying with in our text book, in our English book. Let's look. Open your books to the page right here. There is no page number, so I can't tell you the page number. For here. It's's right before the table of contents. > Ss: (noisy and very confused) > T: (Translates into a series of shorter and shorter Korean comments)> NT: Ok? Let's See. follow me. Jinho. > Ss:Jinho. > NT: Ann. > Ss: Ann. > N: Joon. > Ss: Joon. > NT: Mrs Smith. > Ss: Mrs Smith. > N: Bill. > Ss: Bill. > N: Peter. > Ss: Peter. > NT: Ok. These are the friends that we are going to study with. Okay? If you look on page 8, lesson Number one "How are you?", That's what we are going to study with. > > > By "wine-glass" I simply mean that the initial teacher turn devoted to the orientational semiotic function is very WIDE like the mouth of a wine glass, and then there is a bowl as the teacher cuts his/her turn down to size (done rather abruptly by the Korean teacher in this example, but often done gradually and skillfully) and then there is a tall, narrow "stem" of short turns devoted to Lemke's presentational function, followed by a wide "base" where the whole of the preceding exchange is integrated into the ongoing lesson.> > This "wine-glass" shape is also visible at the level of the activity. So in practice lessons can have a Produce-Present-Practice (so called "Deep End") structure or an even more convoluted one in which Presentation is Practiced and Produced and Practice is Presented and Produced and Production is Presented and Practiced; classroom discourse has wheels within wheels, and a constant ebb and flow of narrowing and broadening, opening and closing.> > At no level is it really possible to say that this activity is pure presentation, or pure practice, or pure production. And for exactly the same reason it is never possible to say that the teacher's language is one mode or another, or even that it is multi-modal. A better term might be "integrational".> > Harris says:> > "The term integrational is intended to allude to the fact that in real life, as we all know, experience is not neatly compartmentalized into the linguistic and the nonlinguistic. The two are integrated. Words are not separate from situations; they are part of the situations, both socially and psychologically. Furthermore, without that essential integration, we could neither learn a language, nor function efficiently as language users."> > Harris, R. (1990). Making sense of communicative competence. In Love, N. (Ed.) The Foundations of Linguistic Theory (pp. 112-135). New York & London: Routledge. > > And of course lessons can ALSO be wine-glass shaped--there is an orientational portion which often consists of a a few "short and fat" exchanges where the teacher talks a lot, followed by a presentational "wine glass bowl" where there is more give and take, a narrow stem where the children (who have not yet developed the ability to take very long turns) reconstrue the presentation in quite short utterances, and finally an organizational summing up at the end, where the teacher attempts to integrate the lesson in the curriculum. > > This structure is, however, not simply a top-down curriculum structure; it emerges out of the integration of teacher utterances and learner utterances, and also out of the integration of Lemke's three semiotic functions, the orientational, the presentational, and the organizational. "Multi-modal" is a rather poor description!> > David Kellogg> Seoul National University of Education> > > > > > _______________________________________________> xmca mailing list>>
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Received on Thu Jul 17 07:25 PDT 2008

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