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ELT in Morocco:

st
Perspectives for the 21
Century

Proceedings of the 16th Annual


Conference of MATE
Mohammedia, 1996

Edited by
El Mostapha El Haddad
Mohamed Najbi

1
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements 2

Editorial 3

Which ESP for which perspectives? 5


Abdellatif Zaki

Preparing Teachers for the third Millennium


Abdelmajid Bouziane 19

"Designer" Approaches: Which Ones will Fit The 2lst Century?


Charles B. Martin 27

English Teaching: Past, Present and Future.


John Battenburg 33

Should ELT In Morocco Become Specific?


Andy Seymour 40

Towards a Systematic Teaching of Oral Skills


El Arbi Imad 42

Towards a More Systematic Teaching of Vocabulary


Noureddine Bendouqui 49

Teacher Self-Evaluation Through Student Satisfaction Analysis


Lhoussine Oumazane 60

On The Importance of Field Work and Contrastive Analysis in


Students' Monographs
Zoubida Bellout 65

2
Acknowledgements

On behalf of all MATE members, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to His
MAJESTY KING HASSAN Il for having honoured the Sixteenth Annual Conference of
MATE with His Gracious Patronage and to renew our allegiance and loyalty to His
MAJESTY.

MATE is indebted to the Ministry of Education for its unremitting support. I would like to
thank MATE General Council and Board members for their close collaboration throughout
my term and for their commitment to MATE. I would also like to thank Soumia El Amrani of
the Department of Languages and Communication at I.A.V. Hassan II for her superb, accurate
typing of this volume.

El Mostapha El Haddad
MATE President
Rabat, February 23, 1997

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3
EDITORIAL

MATE '96 could not have chosen a more appropriate theme for its Sixteenth Annual
Conference. This theme allowed for a wide-ranging and comprehensive look to the future of
English Language Teaching (ELT) in Morocco, as is clear from the articles in this volume.

The first five articles can be seen as complementary because of the perceptive insights that are
echoed throughout. Abdellatif Zaki suggests a series of strategies whereby the ELT profession
in Morocco can improve. Strategies such as innovation, competitiveness and quality are
illustrated with supportive examples from various contexts and commented on. Zaki through-
out sets the English for Specific Purposes teaching in the broader perspective on education,
itself naturally influenced by socio-political and socio-economic attitudes. Abdelmajid Bou-
ziane argues that recent proposals to improve teacher education will not result in significant
improvements because it is based upon the assumption that a particular method is better than
another. He argues that what is needed is teamwork training and stronger links between the
Inspectorate of English and the other parties concerned with ELT in Morocco. These
directions need to be further explored. Charles B. Martin considers ways of determining which
approaches will fit the 2lst century. The calls for a reasoned eclecticism where "interactive
learning, negotiation of meaning, authentic texts with real links to the world outside the
classroom" are prioritized. This paper is enriched by historical overtones. John Batterburg
summarizes and discusses the innovations in ELT in the past one hundred years and suggests
that if" we are to address the needs of ELT in the next century, we must accept the privileges
along with the responsibilities of our profession". Andy Seymour succinctly and clearly shows
how useful the developments and research in the teaching of ESP are to EGP teachers. Of
particular interest are the characteristics that are fundamental to any ESP programme.

The next three articles are classroom-focused. Imad El Arbi convincingly argues for a more
systematic, principled approach to the teaching of oral skills. The article is replete with tips for
teachers looking for a way to improve their students’ oral skills. Noureddine Bendouqui
reports the findings of a study which investigated teachers' beliefs about vocabulary
teaching/learning in ELT. The study, which is supported by theoretical contributions on this
area, is a genuine attempt to clear up misconceptions about vocabulary teaching/learning.
Lhoussine Oumazane challenges current practices of teacher self-evaluation and argues in
favour of an alternative approach which is carried out through an analysis of student
satisfaction. It is suggested that this quantitative approach can improve teaching
methodologies. The checklist and procedure for calculating the degree of student satisfaction
presented in this paper have a user-friendly feel about them.

The final article is an in-depth study of university students' monographs. Drawing on her long
experience as a university teacher and on theories available in the literature, Zoubida Bellout
outlines the requirements that monographs should fulfill and makes constructive comments on
each.

El Mostapha El Haddad
Mohamed Najbi

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4
WHICH ESP FOR WHICH PERSPECTIVES?

Abdellatif Zaki
Hassan II Institute of Agronomy
and Veterinary Sciences

INTRODUCTION

The issue I will address in this presentation is that of how our profession will contribute to or
fit in the definition of the features of our society in the future within the new international
order which is being imposed on us by the various trade and tariff conventions that we have
adhered to and the other conventions which regulate or deregulate our relations with our
neighbors and regional and historical affiliations. In other words, for the discussion of the
perspectives of our profession to be meaningful, the debate needs to focus on how we, as a
group of professionals, and our craft, as a technology, can contribute to the promotion of
factors that are recognized as key elements in the making of an ideal future about which a
national consensus has been developed. Whatever the role or the function of our intervention
as a profession, it will, therefore, have to be determined within a global and general vision and
through a comprehensive theory for the understanding and analysis of the national socio-
economic and cultural complex. This is to say, that the approach to the definition of any
perspectives cannot be sectorial.

In a first part, I will recall some ideas I had suggested elsewhere (Zaki, 1989,1995) concerning
the difficulty of identifying and/or anticipating foreign language needs. This first part is
justified by the fact that no perspectives ESP will be legitimate unless they are expressed
within the framework of "national' investment priorities and socio-economic and cultural
objectives.

Language needs: Instability of needs

The language needs of individuals as well as those of groups of individuals are neither stable
nor constant nor static. They change in relation to several factors and can be described only in
terms of a hypothetical predictive model which has to be potent enough to discern market
tendencies, International trade evolution as well as the advent of technological innovations
and fluctuations of human desire, attitudes and preferences over long periods of time. As yet,
no theory exists that does all this or any of it with high degrees of certainty.

In short, the needs of a user of a foreign language in Morocco are not stable throughout his*
career life. I will give a few examples. The career of a person who enters the public
administration in the Ministry of Finance, for example, will have language needs that will
most probably exclude knowledge of the English language at any level of proficiency unless
he is recruited for the newly created "Direction des Investissements Etrangers". However, as
he advances in the administrative pyramid and depending on the department, his need in
English will take different shapes depending on the functions he will be called upon to fulfil.
Furthermore, these functions are not stable because they are associated with the position in the
pyramid which, in turn, is highly variable. In other words, the use of the English language
which an individual may have recourse to during his career in the administration will vary
according to and following the position she occupies in the system. This variability may range
from an initial need in reading technical documents in the English language in order to react to

5
them in writing either in Arabic or French either orally or in some written form to needs to
attend meetings conducted essentially in the English language spoken by consultants who are
not necessarily native speakers of English and who may have extremely strong accents and/or
regionalisms.

The need to act in written English is extremely rare in the Moroccan administration for top
executives and technicians. It may be said that it is limited to researchers who prefer, for
historical or political reasons, to remain attached to US related centers of printing scientific
information.

However, a Moroccan civil servant who has not needed any English for his job for twenty
years or over may, due to advancement in the decision making hierarchy, be in situations
where English is solicited more than other foreign languages, French being excepted of
course. This kind of situation is in general limited to cases in which responsibility involves ec-
onomic or trade negotiations at high and technical levels with international financial
institutions or donor countries.

Authentic needs vs. attitudes

Nevertheless, it needs to be borne in mind that the official regulations of international


institutions associated with the Bretton Woods Group are required to use the official
languages of the United Nations which include Arabic and French. There have been some
cases where top Moroccan officials have required that official meetings between their
departments and these institutions be conducted cither in Arabic or French. International
institutions will, upon request, nominate consultants and negotiators speaking French or
Arabic or include a translation clause into the official languages of the UN in their contracts.
This is to say that it befalls non-English speaking countries, Morocco for one, to require that
official transactions be conducted in the official UN languages.

As to business and technological transfer, the laws of the market are already making
international contractors, providers of service and of commodities comply with language
requirements wherever they are made. Once again, several apparent needs for foreign
languages are actually not needs but rather expressions of attitudes and of political choices.
Take for example a computer component maker in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Korea or Ger-
many. He will make information available in Arabic or in French and will respond to any
correspondence whatever the language it is printed in. The only constraint that may be ex-
perienced is the delay in the first response that will be usually faster when it is done in the
native language of the maker or in English.

The following experiment which I have conducted on several occasions, and which I have
experienced recently corroborates this argument. I had the intention of purchasing a special
desktop publishing station that may be operated by the visually handicapped and that will
allow printing in Braille format and scan from print into voice and vice-versa. I addressed a
letter to a number of computer makers and electronics companies all over Europe and the
United States. Although my letters went to the mother companies in Germany, Sweden, the
UK and Denmark, most responses came from Paris or Casablanca. Some of the replies were in
French and those that were in English included a paragraph saying that future correspondence
could be conducted in the French language. The technical specifications of the equipment all
came both in English and in French. In some documents, it was mentioned that literature about
the equipment could be made available upon request in a number of languages among which

6
Arabic. The constructor we chose appointed to us a consultant from a French university who
is a perfect Arabic French bilingual. This is the case of highly specific and rare electronic
equipment and software.

Investing where investment is most efficient

The argument I am suggesting is that alternatives to investing heavily in EFL development do


exist for several purposes; less expensive deals may be negotiated and more efficient
opportunities have to be sought and seized.

Why does one have to pay for the shortcomings of the provider of a service or a commodity?
The client is king, if I buy, I would like that the deal respects my own requirements.

Mastery of language and promotion

As concerns the impact of mastery of a language or of some aspects of a language on career


advancement, both in the public and private sector, evidence exists that language proficiency
plays a more important role in initial recruitment than in advancement because of the complex
factors which determine mobility within any administrative system and in which variables
such as traditional affinities and solidarity are more prominent than any objective criteria. This
is not to say, however, that objective criteria are excluded altogether from the advancement
procedure but to suggest that these are considered in addition to the former and that in cases
where candidates offer identical or close profiles, non-objective criteria will topple the scale.

It can however be argued, on the basis of the analysis of cases of advancement in the public
sector, that language proficiency in general, and English mastery in particular, have seldom
determined the passage to top positions in the decision making hierarchy although they do
contribute to the inclusion in the circle of those who make decisions. In fact, communication
competence, which includes in my definition of it, proficiency in English, has been on several
cases I have analysed instrumental in associating a person in the process of making decisions
and thereby bringing the person in closer contact with top administrators increasing thus the
chances of promoting him or her faster and perhaps to more rewarding positions.
Nevertheless, language proficiency functions as a promotion factor only in a limited range of
jobs available. On the other hand, in initial recruitment, language proficiency may be decisive,
a requirement or desirable for a number of top trade responsibilities and multinational
ventures.

However, like in the case of internal promotion, initial recruitment, especially in the
Moroccan private sector, will favor candidates with socio-cultural and economic affinities to
those with higher language proficiency profiles. This is done in search of traditional loyalties
which are not necessarily ensured by training and professional competence which employers
would be ready to buy and make available to candidates who meet the most difficult and rare
criteria which are non-professional.

English in the public administration

For a long time in the career of a Moroccan civil servant, no use extremely limited use will be
made of the English language, hence the tremendous loss of language learned at the lycee or
university level. It may be interesting to mention that the majority of civil servants who did
study English both at the lycee and at the university say that most of the English they had

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learnt was learned at the lycee and that whatever they learned at the university was forgotten.
In other words, much of the investment in the English language in the Moroccan educational
system is wasted as far fewer authentic opportunities or needs for its use than the planner has
anticipated are actually available.

Three major factors in the identification of perspectives: innovation, competitivity and


quality

This subtitle implies that factors have been identified and that consensus has been developed.
Three of these factors which seem to have gathered the consensus of analysts, and on which I
will base the second part of my paper are the ability of our society to be innovative,
competitive at the various levels of production with the rest of the world and to be able to
produce quality products. The challenge, which a few years ago could have been satisfied by
maintaining a level of growth and of productivity compared to those of a regional area or a
limited category of countries, has now become (i) to produce the best quality, (ii) at least cost,
(iii) with most immaterial added-value, (iv) least input, (v) most innovation, (vi) highest
concentration of knowledge, and finally (vii) highest capacity of immediate response to needs.
Now simple questions about ELT in Morocco can be formulated. To what extent is the ELT
component of our educational system innovative, competitive and to what extent does the
ELT profession in Morocco provide quality services?

Fundamental questions innovation

For our purposes, innovation may be defined as the process by which knowledge, information
and experience are integrated in the acquisition, assimilation, production, and control of new
systems of organization, distribution and trade of ideas, commodities, methods, strategies,
and, in short, all kinds of tradables. As such, innovation touches on both material and
immaterial do-mains of socio-economic and cultural activities and occurs with and/or without
access to new knowledge and information. -

In fact, innovation may consist solely in the reorganization and recombination of available
data and knowledge like in the case of the development of a new teaching or evaluation meth-
odology based on already available research findings. Another example could simply be the
rearrangement of units, lessons and materials within the same textbook. It is therefore more
the capacity to control present and future trends of the use of knowledge and information than
new knowledge itself that makes innovation.

This definition, simple as it seems, raises a number of issues and consideration of some
implications. One of these implications suggests, for example, that innovation can be based on
the scores of findings which have been achieved by national researchers and which still lie in
libraries untapped and unused.

This situation informs of a failure of the educational systems as a whole, and the ELT
profession as well, to meet one criterion of innovation, which is, cooperation within the
diverse members of the same system and among them and members of cousin or sibling
systems. In other words, a barrier for innovation is the quantity of walls between institutions,
departments, and individuals within them. This type of barriers, which may be institutional
and/or attitudinal, cripples the creative ability of individuals as it does not allow them access
to knowledge available in other institutions and does not facilitate conversion from one

8
discipline to another. In other words, the Moroccan educational system falls one criterion
short of innovation as it maintains its various structures looking inward and does not promote
looking outward.

Other problems include resistance to change which militates against enhancement of new
knowledge, research efforts and search of new information. This resistance turns the
educational enterprise into a closed system and holds practitioners in a low cultural and socio-
economic status which denies them the competence of initiating experiments, of formulating
alternative courses of action and of looking forward and seeking renewal of established
structures and working methods. When practitioners are excluded from the effort of creating
new models and approaches to the management of a system, innovation is impaired and
hindered.

Innovation, in the educational system in Morocco, will be impaired for an additional number
of reasons that the educational community needs to apprehend and overcome. The first of
these reasons is the administration. The administrative system of education in Morocco is
extremely complex and heavy due to the multiplicity of its structures, the formal aspect of
several of them, the lack of precision in the definition of competencies and authorities, the
imprecision of objectives and goals, and the deficit in communication traditions, channels, and
strategies. The Ministry of National Education counts, in addition to the general “lnspectorate"
and the cabinet, 17 "Directions”, 63 "Divisions”, 206 "services". In addition to these
structures, should be added the Academies which theoretically share several competencies
with them.

The second reason is financial shortage. Because of the current trend of withdrawal of the
State from public affairs, public funds for research will likely be more and more scarce.

The third reason is lack of incentives and motivating policies for innovation to which may be
added absence of enforcing agencies of protective laws of intellectual property. The lack of
such agencies makes the production and marketing of a textbook or an interactive computer-
based language course, for instance, a financial hazard.

With these constraints, innovation will remain handicapped unless the educational community
takes upon itself to defend its interests which are actually but those of the nation as a whole. It
may have become commonplace to reiterate the impact of the speed by which knowledge is
produced, processed, transformed into technologies and becomes obsolete on the definition of
innovation and on the educational and cultural environment, but examples will make the
concept more concrete.

Innovation being the added intellectual value, immaterial value, in commodities; it determines
their shelf life. This is not an allegory or a metaphor. In fact, in the past, quality of
commodities, ideas, books, or values was measured in terms of the length of their life span
and in terms of how long they resisted change. In the present, however, the criteria of
measuring quality are rather the opposite and include the speed at which something is
expected to be consumed, thrown away, changed and evolved into another form, a completely
new commodity.

In the past, it was said that an idea, an ideology, an object were of good standing and of high
value when they lasted for years or centuries on the market. In other words, the benefit from
an innovation was cropped over a long period. That is, innovators had all the time to harvest

9
the crop of their efforts and investments. In the present, however, investments in the
production of innovative ideas have to yield benefit in short times because there is always an
increasing risk that newer ideas and more innovative inventions that are more appealing to the
market will topple former ones.

We hear more and more, for instance, of movies that recover all the investments that went into
making them in one or two weeks, movies are currently displaced from the market by other
ones much faster than used to be the case a few decades ago. This does not mean, however,
that recently made movies are of less quality than their predecessors nor that the public does
not like them, but that the pace of creation, of productivity and of competitiveness is much
faster and stiffer.

Likewise, books used to be written and sold over a period of ten years or even centuries; but
currently, books are sold before they are actually written, and are out of stock before they are
printed. Furthermore, they are sold before they have taken flesh as authors, publishers and
editors market book projects and collect information about the needs of their readers first, then
have the book written. This is also true for book series which are sold through yearly
subscriptions even before the subjects they will address have been determined. In these cases,
it is the confidence capital of the team of producers that sells the product. This confidence is
based on the tacit agreement that each new book will bring novelty and respond to projected
needs. In other words, what is sold is not a commodity or an idea that will be used in the
present or that will address current affairs but solutions, knowledge and information that not
only have not been developed yet but ones about conditions and situations which have not yet
occurred.

In a sense, consumption has become anterior to production. This is a new characteristic of


quality. Products are commissioned and paid for before they are produced. In several cases,
commodities, including books, are discarded without being consumed because newer ones
have made them obsolete.

These are new approaches to business, to production of knowledge and of information. These
are also new approaches to management, production and distribution of products. These are
types of innovation which may announce other types of innovation.

Electronic distribution of knowledge and information is currently and increasingly displacing


and replacing traditional methods and media of distribution. We hear more and more of
electronic mail, of electronic newspapers that are published to respond to individual needs and
desires of the clients. We also hear of information made available at request, that is of articles
written specifically for one reader or a specific group of readers.
I would like to invite you to think about your educational practice and consider how
innovative it can be, taking the discussion above into account. At what speed does the local
ELT community respond, produce knowledge, integrate already available knowledge in its
daily practice and to what extent does it engage in search of answers to authentic questions?

The barriers and the constraints crippling the thriving of innovation in a professional and/or
academic community such as ours that have been mentioned earlier although basic and funda-
mental ones are not the only ones. There are other barriers of another category

There is what might be called the crisis in the imaginative capacity of our ELT community.
We should not be ashamed of this, as even in cases of long standing communities, with a long

10
history of high imagination, the risk of falling in a state of imaginative lethargy is always
present. We should, however, be aware of what is happening to us, analyze the situation and
take corrective action immediately.

The educational system is incriminated in this condition. But it is not the only factor to be
incriminated. The whole social, political, economic and cultural system in Morocco has for a
long time been such that any innovation was regarded or mistaken for unwarranted subversive
action.

The traditionalism of our educational culture and its conservatism reflect a desire to freeze
time and express the degree to which our community refuses to change and to transform itself
qualitatively. It also means that this community apprehends alternative ways of managing
itself, which also means other ways of distributing and sharing everything that has to be
shared including wealth, authority, power, knowledge, information, the future and the past.

To recapitulate, innovation may be considered as the intellectual added value to knowledge,


be it new or already available. As such, adequate investments have to be made to promote it,
urgent institutional adjustments and administrative measures have to be consented to favor it.

Fundamental questions: competitiveness

The concept of competitiveness is of high relevance to the analysis of educational issues and
curricula. This relevance has been increasing as a result of the economic globalization process
which implies that performance of educational systems will not be measured in the absolute
but in relation to that of other educational systems.

By educational system I will refer here to each and every level and aspect of the educational
process. As such, the classroom is a system, the department, the school, in-service-training
programs, the curriculum are all instances of educational systems, or let us say, subsystems.

The performance of the English Department at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, for
example, will not be assessed against internal criteria but to the performance of other 1ocal
universities such as AI Akhawayn and foreign universities such as Harvard or la Sorbonne. In
like manner, the performance of the ELT component of the Moroccan educational system will
be compared to that of other countries competing with us for the same place on the world
market.

Likewise, the performance of a class will be compared not only to that of other classes in
different schools, in different delegations or different Academies in Morocco but to the
performance of other classes in other parts of the world.

The problem, however, is that in Morocco, performance of schools and of classes is not
always a criterion for competition. The example of the quota of 40% that is practiced to
control passage from 9th to 10th grade defeats any efforts of classes, teachers and schools to
engage in fair competition. The Moroccan educational system does not therefore favor
competition nor does it foster excellence.

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Another area in which the advantages of competitiveness for quality services is impaired is
that of materials production. In fact, in Morocco, production of ELT materials is a state owned
and run operation Only textbooks produced by the "Textbook Commission" are used in
classrooms both of public and private schools of the mainstream educational system. This
state monopoly is an anomaly in a country which claims itself of the liberal, political and
economic philosophy. The current productions of the "Textbook Commission" can be
evaluated only when competition for the production of ELT materials will be open to
competition Moreover, the skills, competencies and excellence of scores of teachers,
inspectors and other professionals in the production of ELT materials are not used and thus
form a disadvantage to the whole educational system. The once silenced voices of ELT
professionals and practitioners are being heard more and more about the legitimacy of a
practice which inhibits proficiency responds more to prestige than to real need or at best to a
limited need that does not justify the investment. Examples of cooperation programs which
have financed English language programs to prepare participants to short term visits to
English language speaking countries are not rare. In many cases, the investment in
teaching/learning English was not motivated by a purely technical need. Likewise, examples
of people who have invested a lot of energy, time and money in learning English or teaching it
to their employees or students and who fail to quantify the return of such investment on their
productivity or competitiveness are extremely frequent. It is therefore of utmost importance to
conduct studies which would quantify the comparative returns of investments in English
language learning and teaching and investments in other languages and/or subject matters for
different sectors or branches of economic endeavor.

The stakes related to learning English or teaching it to one’s employees in the private sector
are very seldom identified clearly and with precision. Likewise, investment in ELT
infrastructure and enterprises is often done without prior analysis of the market so much that
the rush for it has been so overwhelming in the last few years. The surge of demand for
English learning has been fed, partially at least, by a well orchestrated marketing campaign
led by world leading ELT organisations.

Likewise, questions related to when to invest in the teaching of English, at which educational
level, in which areas and who should do it, the public institution or the private sector, which
are questions of more political dimensions than pedagogical ones, are still open to debate.
When, where and to whom is teaching English most efficient? Should proficiency in English
be assimilated to that of other educational objectives of the system like mathematics, calculus,
computer science, reading and writing which the taxpayer is requested to pay for or should it
rather belong to the category of know-how and expertise which the employer or the individual
has to take in charge?

The case of science and math students who undergo an English language program at the lycee
and who after four or five years at university find out that they hardly remember any English
from the lycee that they could use is, I think, a good example of an investment made at the
wrong time.

Another case is the teaching of English in lycee Lettres sections when very little use of the
language is required' for most immediate post lycee studies or training. Just like in the first
case, at the exit of the university most English taught at the lycee has been lost for the
majority of the graduates. A more efficient alternative, that would increase the productivity of
the system, could be teaching English when it is most needed to those who need it most.

12
Moreover, how do the quality and the quantity of materials as well as the equipment and
instruments available to the Moroccan teacher, and learner for that matter, compare to those in
other English language teaching environments? The environments in question here are those
which seduce the Moroccan teacher and learner alike whose would like to imitate, adopt or be
inspired by their methods and approaches.

Other considerations relate to intellectual ethics, moral probity and respect of property. In
most, if not ah English language programs I am aware of, the practice of fraudulent
acquisition, use and duplication of printed and audio-visual materials is the rule. Protection of
intellectual property is a key factor for the development of home-grown materials and a
domestic educational BFL technology.

Also, questions related to public investments, taxpayers money, in the teaching of the national
languages that are still excluded from the educational system and whether or not they should
have priority over teaching other foreign languages have not yet been adequately posed, let
alone answered.

In my modest appreciation, we have sinned when we focused on the technicalities of our


profession and lost sight of the basic priorities and choices which give it its social and political
legitimacy.

The discourse we have generated for the last decade, except perhaps from some few
contributions, seemed to have taken for granted the necessity of making of English a key
component of any economic and technological development. Most often, the discourse also
seemed to have been rooted in a conflicting situation between French and English; a conflict
which exists only in the minds of those who are, for reasons that are not the object of our
discussion here, in charge of the spread of given languages, cultures and commodities. But for
us, any language that is not national deserves to be studied, learned and appreciated cither for
some instrumental or functional purposes or for aesthetic and scientific reasons none of which
include a desire to spread it.

The competitiveness of English language teaching in Morocco can be analysed only in


relation to the overall competitiveness of the national educational system as a whole. This is to
say that, as yet, the Moroccan system which still practices the selection of students on the
basis of availability of seats and not of performance cannot be analysed in terms of
competitiveness. In fact, how can this concept operate at a world dimension while extremely
high percentages of the learner population is ejected out of the system because seats could not
be made available to them.

In other words, the international competitiveness of the Moroccan system is impaired from the
start as opportunity is denied to an important number of the population. In yet clearer words,
the system will remain out of international competition as long as opportunity is not available
on the basis of individual performance. Furthermore, this type of selection operates in another
manner adverse to advancement and which maintains the output of the system short of the
requirements of international competition. In fact, because the system functions at the local
and school level, it denies opportunity to students from schools who outperform others in
other schools or areas. It is a perverse system which encourages educational perversity; the

13
cases of parents who move their children from high standard schools to others known for their
low level of performance is dramatically increasing.

The quality dimension

Concerning quality in educational systems, which I have mentioned, I would like to share with
you a number of criteria which I have identified in the literature and which have been, at
diverse occasions, used to plan quality or to evaluate it. In my opinion, the following criteria
are the minimal features which describe a quality educational product, be it a textbook, a
teaching methodology, an evaluation technique, a teacher development program or a
management strategy. Should one of these criteria be faulty or missing, educational quality
will be impaired.

Quality involves:

1 - Participative management;
2 - Clarity and achievability of objectives;
3 - Responsibility and accountability;
4 - Cost efficiency;
5 - Comparative benefit;
6 - Systematic and participative evaluation;
7 - Accessibility (ease of contact, approach);
8 - Communication flow efficiency;
9 - Civility (politeness, consideration);
10 - Competence of all;
11 - Reliability (constancy of service performance);
12 - Timeliness and responsiveness;
13 - Security (freedom of risk & doubt);
14 - Tangible (evidence of quality of service);
15 - Knowledge of the consumer;
16 - Vehicles change;
17 - Critique of the status-quo;
18 - Customer focused values;
19 - Rigorous and effective implementation;
20 - Analyses systems;
21 - Establishes causes;
22 - Generates adequate remedies;
23 - Tests remedies under operating conditions;
24 - Monitors the chosen remedy;
25 - Reports on improvement;
26 - Decisions are data-based;
27 - Favors added-value;
28 - Recognition and reward;
29 - Long range planning;
30 - Process performance measurement;
31 - Stimulates Innovation;
32 - Commitment of the leadership;
33 - Focus on facts;
34 - Focus on customers and employees;
35 - Frequency of internal audits;

14
36 - Awareness of obstacles and constraints;
37 - Readiness to break with traditional practices;
38 - Continuous human resource development;
39 - Precise need for each product;
40 - Team work.

A fast survey of these entries indicates that they can be used to generate a variety of grids
including concepts and arguments belonging to diverse fields among which are management,
program planning and evaluation, marketing, economics, ethnography and decision-making
theory. They can be categorized both within the quantitative and the qualitative traditions of
educational appreciation and endeavor.

Applied to the ELT profession in Morocco, these criteria will reveal that, for instance,
decision making is not, at least always, participative; concerns of cost efficiency have not
traditionally been of primary importance; knowledge of the target populations is, at best,
insufficient; obstacles and constraints to learning are either not known to decision-makers or
they do/can not take them into account; objectives and needs do not necessarily correspond to
each other; the status quo is sacred and not criticized; implementation of programs is often
hypothetical; responsiveness is too slow to be effective and communication hardly flows
among the various partners of the system, let atone with other systems.
These conclusions, which I do not think this audience needs proved, tend to create a picture of
the ELT situation in Morocco that lacks the basic features of a quality system that can produce
quality services.

Which perspectives?

The question I raise in the title of this presentation originates in the difficulty I have to discern
the perspectives alluded to in the major theme of this conference. What perspectives do we
have for the coming century? Do these perspectives reflect some sort of national consensus;
are they based on home-bred political choices and economic orientations, are they the result of
a collective representation of the future; or are they rather of the type of the technical
expressions and formulations which have been so powerfully hammered in our minds by the
international ELT consortium and which conceal attitudes and beliefs for which we are and
should remain mere consumers of ideas and ideologies and importers of know-how,
technology and knowledge?

Whether we focus on issues such as ESP versus General English, communicative versus
functional or grammatical approaches or on aspects such the importance of discourse analysis
and needs analysis, we will not have departed from the narrow path of mimicking technical
procedures which do not, or will not or should not, indicate the alternative perspectives open
for choice.
In fact, all these are ideas that have been developed to serve some purposes which are not
necessarily ours; likewise, they are pedagogical and technological solutions to problems
which are not ours. More over, they may even have been devised to enforce political and
economic choices which aim at maintaining us in a status of dependence and exclusion from
world mainstream production of knowledge, culture, technology and wealth.

The perspectives for which we need to promote a coherent educational and pedagogical theory
include bundles of variables relating to issues such as human rights, democracy, equality
between the sexes, regions and ages, universal development, reognition and respect of ethnic

15
affiliation as well as variables related to the protection of vulnerable populations and their
socio-economic and cultural rights. Likewise, these perspectives need to take into account the
aspiration of our people to protect its culture(s) and to promote its/their position(s) within the
world concert of those who master human destiny.

These perspectives also include variables such as the type of educational administration, the
nature of human resource development and training, the allocation of resources, the socio-
economic status of the educational profession in general and of teachers in particular which
need to be validated, at least by the quality and competitiveness criteria already discussed.

In other words, the most pressing educational priority is to make restitution of the power of
decisions to those which are affected by them. The administrative pyramid which has for
historical and political reasons substituted the political pyramid needs to be corrected so that
authority to make a decision is given back to those who it will affect and to those who will be
in charge of its implementation.

To be more specific, I will give some examples. The educational system being an instrument
which will affect all members of society and which will orient and give shape to its members
should not be considered the exclusive responsibility of educational technicians whatever their
moral integrity or degree of professionalism. Likewise, it should not be the exclusive
responsibility of professional politicians for whom the concern to be re-elected primes over all
other concerns. In like-manner, the responsibility of the educational system should not be left
to those consumers of manpower who tend to require that it provides for their immediate
needs at least cost.

This leaves very few options. However, these have the merit to modulate the extreme
tendencies of each group of interest as they will include, in addition to the categories I have
just mentioned, representatives of the population not only at the various levels of its political
and administrative organization and of the components of what has now come to be called
civil society, but also representation at the level of the traditional structures of our society
which will have to be rehabilitated so that decisions express the basic and authentic needs and
solidarity of the population.

As much as it may be easy to understand that resistance to create such institutions will come
from traditional political and administrative organizations, it is surprising that resistance
comes also from the civil society or individuals associated with it. This will remain a problem
as long as organizational institutions are heterogeneous and not free of conflicting interests.

I have, on several occasions, experienced the strength of the resistance to efforts which aimed
at giving an already existing association, or one to be created, a negotiation quality and a
status to deal with other established authorities as a partner at the various levels of educational
intervention. I call level of intervention any of the levels at which a decision is made by the
administration or by the legislative institutions. These include decisions related to the
elaboration of syllabi, curricula, materials development, evaluation, management, training,
etc.

This will prove to be difficult to achieve as resistance to it should be expected not only from
without but also from within the profession by people or groups who may have established
themselves as gatekeepers or "legitimizes" of any action in the field and whose interests may
be affected by such types of organization.

16
An important factor for the rehabilitation of our profession is to promote the social status of
educators by developing multiple links between teachers, who, in Morocco, may easily be
associated to the category of vulnerable, unprotected and excluded populations. Links need
also to be established with other professions, within the educational range or without it in
order to (i) avoid the ghetto phenomenon, (ii), to secure diversity of input, (iii), to be able to
influence knowledge development in other areas and to contribute to opinion formation. Links
need also to be maintained with regional and international professional communities.

Examples of the ghetto phenomenon include rumination and reproduction of the same ideas
and knowledge over long periods of time while innovations have taken place and challenged
those ideas in other fields or areas. Take, for example, learning and teaching theory of which
we have talked so much in our meetings. To what extent can we say that our discourse
concerning them has included or been inspired by ideas, concepts and analyses that have been
developed in relation to information technology in general and the use of computers in
education? How much of theories such as Mental Model Theory, for example, which has
raised serious challenges to the "central role of formalisms (e.g. rules of logic) in the process
of thinking (... heavily represented in earlier cognitive theories of learning, beginning with
Piaget's work) (Wild, 1996) and which presents an alternative to the explanation of thinking
procedures such as deduction and induction (Johnson-Laird, 1993) have we considered in
relation to our profession?

The current established educational authorities call upon private, foreign or national,
institutions for assistance with all these decisions. They, however, tend to exclude associations
like ours (MATE), or to deny them this capacity.

One of the perspectives I would like to suggest for ELT practice in Morocco for the coming
century is to endow professional associations with the status of a decision-making institution,
with the capacity to counsel other institutions, and the priority in educational bids related to
surveys, research, studies and production of materials. In other words, I think it is time for
MATE, which has shown leadership in educational associations in Morocco, to promote new
and creative ideas related to (1) the inclusion of professional associations in making
educational decisions, (2) the outgrowth of the current limited status to one which allows
generation of resources which will, in turn, promote the profession and (3) the creation of
other organizations with more specific orientations and focuses. Examples of these
organizations could be one focusing on Languages for Specific Purposes, other ones could be
associations focusing on skills or disciplines such as writing, reading, translation or
evaluation.

Another perspective which I think we need to work for is to help our institutions, like MATE
for instance, outgrow the status of buyer and consumer to that of a real and authentic
contributor and generator of knowledge and solutions to real and authentic problems. MATE
has already made the first steps towards this status when a few years ago we initiated the
research project competition whose purpose was to promote local research efforts and
identification of problems. Another step was when MATE sought partnership with other
national institutions such as Academies and co-organized with the Academy of Fez the
Textbook Evaluation Project. These are examples of actions which MATE has taken in the
direction I am talking about and which need to be supported and multiplied.

17
I would like to conclude by suggesting that a permanent committee be set up to develop a long
term strategy for MATE and to monitor the evolution towards the achievement of the
objectives that it will identify. I am aware that the constitution of the association sets clear
objectives but it would not harm the association if new interpretations of these objectives are
proposed or even if it is amended. The definition of the concept of disseminating information
can for instance be widened to include ideas such as partaking in making the information and
monitoring its feedback. Likewise, the function of in-service training which the association
has been so wonderfully doing since its creation with the blessing of competent authorities
may be reviewed to include participation in the development of syllabi, design of teaching
materials, provision of pre-service training and why not certification.

The future will be for associations which will be able to influence decisions and to generate
the resources to do so.

REFERENCES

Zaki, A. 1989. "The Language Expectations of Institutions of Higher Specialized and


Technical Education" in The Textbook: Realities and Perspectives. The Academy of
Fes, pp.
36-61.

Zaki, A. 1995 "The limits of Needs Assessment". Oran Maghreb ESP seminar

Back to Contents

18
PREPARING TEACHERS FOR THE
THIRD MILLENIUM

Abdelmajid Bouziane
Royal Navy Training Center,
Casablanca.

INTRODUCTION

The role a teacher should play in language teaching is becoming more and more complex.
Advances in research into second or foreign language teaching do not tend to answer specific
questions asked by teacher (x) working in conditions (y). Rather, the tendency is that research
provides a range of competing suggestions, sometimes contradictory, for teachers to select the
options that fit their work circumstances. Such circumstances differ so much that what works
for a class might not work for another. Widdowson (1990:25) testifies to this phenomenon
when he clarifies that "we should not expect that research will come up with recipes and
remedies which will work whatever the circumstances. We should recognize that the validity
of research findings is always relative." This limitation of generalisability of findings implies
that the preference of a teaching practice is dictated more by circumstances than by methods
as such. Being so, training, be it pre- or in-service, should be geared towards making teachers
familiar with the existing methods and paradigms so that they can work out appropriate
remedies for their classes' specific problems. Not only this, they should be urged to subscribe
to all the existing (as well as forthcoming) teaching practices as advocated in this paper
through two issues that have been recurrently tackled in Morocco; namely, process writing
and teaching methods.

The choice of teaching methods and process writing is intentional. The implementation of the
locally-designed textbooks, English in Life series, has created dynamic changes in the meth-
odologies of ELT in Morocco. The implementation of English in life 1 has given rise to the
preference of certain methods. When it was implemented some years ago, many pedagogical
meetings were held to sensitize teachers to the underpinnings of mainly the Natural Approach
despite it being untenable to claim that this approach is adopted in EIL 1. In line with the
meetings, the Official Guidelines (1994) devotes a chapter, "General Approach" (pp. 4-9), to
explain the bases of the methodology to be utilized. This chapter tends to favor fluency-
oriented over accuracy-oriented activities assuming that the high frequency of fluency
activities implies the use of a communicative methodology (p.7). However, restricting teacher
in-service training to some approaches seems to be fallacious because no preference to a
method is backed up in the literature.

Similarly, ever since the implementation of English in life 2, many training sessions have been
organized by supervisors in different areas throughout Morocco to urge teachers to take Up
process writing as a better alternative to the traditional way of the teaching of writing,
product-oriented practice. Again, The Official Guidelines (1994,1996) tend to favor process-
over product-oriented practices. While the Official Guidelines (1994) implicitly describe
product-oriented practices in the form of guided-or semi-guided-accuracy-oriented writing
(pp. 46-47), they put a heavy focus on process writing (pp. 48-52).
With more bias, the recent Guidelines (1996) show preference to process writing. Writers of
the new Guidelines seem to be so overwhelmingly attracted by process writing that they

19
mistakenly give the label of "Process writing" to a product-oriented assignment on writing a
film review (pp. 19-20). Elsewhere in the same guidelines, the writers suggest going through
the stages of process-writing [which] could be of great help to both teachers and learners"
(p.40) to solve problems related to learning by doing and to diminish the effect of negative
transfer. In both cases, however, unless other training sessions in the use of other paradigms
appear in future agendas, this type of training is fallacious because, unlike the above claims,
literature does not favor one paradigm over another.

No method is better than another

Claiming the supremacy of (a) certain method(s) (the word method here is broadly used as an
umbrella term to refer to an approach, a method, and a technique though these words are
different; should be considered to be a myth. (See Richards and Rodgers for the difference,
1986: chap. 2). Starting from these premises, Prabhu (1990) demonstrated that it is a fallacy to
keep trying to assess the effectiveness of a method as such, independent of the teacher who
implements it, the setting where it is implemented, and the learners with whom it is used. He
explains that three main reasons make no unique method operate effectively in any teaching
situation. The first reason is related to the teaching setting. He claims that every setting is
unique and is, therefore, characterized by such infinite variations that preparing a recipe-like
method which can be utilized for any (or even a similar) teaching situation turns out to be
impossible. Being so numerous, these variables have also made it impossible to predict when
and where a certain method will work well or badly. Furthermore, they have discredited the
idea that if a certain method has worked somewhere, then it should work somewhere else. In
this matter, Prabhu asserts:

“ if we look for variation merely on the assumption that the teaching context matters
for teaching methodology, we are sure to find indefinite variation on many
dimensions, thus making it impossible to justify any instructional method for any
single group of learners" (ibid. 164).

Moreover, he claims that the effectiveness of a method does not derive from a mechanical
(albeit sound) implementation of its procedures.

His second argument is that every method bears a partial truth, and, conversely, no one
method bears the whole truth. However, nobody has thus far determined which part of the
method bears the truth and which does not. The part of the truth each method bears still
remains, and perhaps will remain forever, ill-defined.

In his third argument, Prabhu calls for reconsidering what "best" means. He parodies the
common belief in the evaluation of methods which equates the effectiveness of a method with
its outcomes. However, he proves that evaluating effectiveness seems to be too difficult
because of three main reasons:

1. The contextual features are too numerous and complex to assess. Some of these features are
not quantifiable to be assessed objectively.

2. Learning a language is not cumulative and itemisable; rather, it is organic and continuous.
Therefore, the existing ways of assessing methods do not seem to be adequately effective.

20
Testing a method should not involve learners' attainments rather, it should involve assessing
whether the learning that has taken place can be attributed to the type of teaching that been
done.

After having refuted the existence of failure within the method itself, Prabhu analyses what
makes some methods work more successfully than others in specific contexts. He claims that
it is the teacher's sense of plausibility that makes the difference. He seems to define it - as
teachers' "personal conceptualization of how their teaching leads to desired learning-with a
notion of causation that has a measure of credibility for them" (ibid. p. 172). He believes that
many factors influence this conceptualization such as pre-training, exposure to (a) method(s),
experience as a learner and as a teacher, and experience as a parent. He believes that it is the
sense of plausibility which determines the degree of teacher's involvement and therefore
makes a method functional. He gives teacher's sense of plausibility the following
characteristics:

• It differs from a teacher to another (more or less firmly or fully found).


• It results in productive teaching when it is fully engaged.
• It plays a major role in teacher-student rapport.
• It is threatened by the recurrent pressures of mechanical teaching and reutilization.
• It should be kept alive and open to change.
• it is vulnerable to become frozen and thus succumb to routines.

Prabhu then asserts that "the enemy of good teaching is not a bad method, but
overroutinisation" (ibid. p. 174) and then suggests seeking ways to keep teachers' senses of
plausibility alive such as the practice of teaching and the interaction between different senses
of plausibility in the form of informal chats with colleagues and reading and writing about
professional issues.

Just like Prabhu, in the introductions of two books about the methods and approaches of
language teaching, the authors have stated clearly that there is no preference as to which
method to adopt independent of what circumstances demand. Richards and Rodgers (1986)
have stated that the proliferation of methods and approaches in the twentieth century is
regarded by - some teachers and researchers as a strength of the profession, and then lets
teachers and program coordinators" choose methods and materials according to the needs of
learners, the preferences of teachers, and the constraints of the school or educational setting"
(p.7). However, they do not deny that for others, this proliferation is a source of bewilderment
and discomfort. Similarly, Larsen-Freeman (1986) has cautiously warned against the myth of
preference. She clarifies that “the inclusion here of any method should not necessarily be
taken as advocacy of that method by the author. Not all of the methods to be presented have
been adequately tested .... Accordingly, the teachers who use this book will need to evaluate
each method in light of their own beliefs and experience"

(p. 12). Elsewhere, the same author (1987) argues against the superiority of a method. She
surveys the practices of language methodology within twenty-five years and concludes that "
the science of language teaching has not reached the point of being able to consistently
demonstrate the superiority of one methodology over another for all teachers and ah students
and all settings ... and perhaps it never will" (Larsen-Freeman, 1987:9).
The above statements put a heavy burden on the teacher of a language. In other words, they
assert that there are no good or bad methods; rather, methods are what teachers do with them.
This view implies that if anything ever goes wrong while implementing a method, this failure

21
should be attributed to the teacher who either has made an inappropriate choice (the situation
demands otherwise) or has implemented the procedures of a method inaccurately (s/he lacks
adequate knowledge about the principles and steps of the selected method).

Process writing is not the only way of teaching writing

Although the diversity of paradigms in the teaching of writing has been criticized by many
researchers, research tends to urge teachers to subscribe to all the existing paradigms as they
tend to be more complementary than competing. Blanton (1995) clarifies that paradigmatic
differences are at the heart of the disputes in writing methodologies. She explains that the
theoretical principles that shape a teacher's teaching styles might result in differing views as,
unfortunately, there is not one paradigm to be utilized as a reference. Rather, the author
delineates four paradigms, with each one favoring one of the four components involved in any
act of writing: the text, the writer, the external reality, or the reader. She makes it clear that
choosing any one paradigm will shape teachers' professional thinking and thus generate
parameters of teaching techniques specific to its theoretical premises.

Prior to Blanton, other researchers were aware of the impact of paradigmatic change on the
teaching of ESL writing. Hairston (1982), applying Kuhn's (1963) thesis of paradigm shift to
the teaching of writing, comes to the conclusion that there is a shift from the traditional
paradigm (product-oriented) which provides prescriptive teaching of writing to an emerging
paradigm (process-oriented). She believes that the traditional paradigm does not solve
problems of writing; nor does it help students to acquire a satisfactory writing profile.
However, teachers of writing still ding to the traditional paradigm (see Zamel, 1987 for
studies confirming this status quo) for many reasons, among which its recurrent appearance in
the widely used textbooks, and the teaching staff' s familiarity (or, conversely, lack of training
in other paradigms) with it play an important role in resisting the change. Although she seems
to overrate the process paradigm, she is wise when she shows a reserved attitude towards its
thorough effectiveness. She cautiously states that we must remember that the new paradigm is
sketchy and leaves many problems about the teaching of writing unresolved" (p. 88). In an
attempt to combine the two paradigms, Connor (1987) con-tends that due to the outlets of
each paradigm, they should be integrated in a unified theory. She demonstrates how text
analysis, namely topical structure (parallel, sequential, and extended parallel as developed by
Lautamatti, 1978,1987) and the system of coherence breaks (advocated by Wilkborg,
1985,1987) helps researchers understand better the processes of composing. With similar
effect, she demonstrates how the process-centred approach, which reduces sentences to
propositions (a predicate, plus one or more arguments) has successfully provided insights to
the process of interpretation by readers and the interaction between writers and readers.

Besides the process paradigm, other competing paradigms have emerged in an attempt to
provide adequate solutions to "the current state of... insecurity and instability..." (in Hairston's
terms, 1982:80). Like Blanton, Raimes (1991) delineates four approaches to ESL writing: (1)
form-dominated approach which puts focus on the text in the form of models for students to
follow; (2) writer-dominated approach which attends to the processes through which a writer
goes before producing to final draft; (3) content-dominated approach which focuses on
producing content-oriented texts like the ones expected from Students who take ESP or BAP
courses; and (4) reader- (or audience-) dominated approach which emphasizes the
expectations of readers; for example, when a (student) writer is producing a text for academic
purposes or to a specific discourse community. Raimes does not think that the introduction of
the four approaches has solved the problems of writing; rather, it has made them thornier. She

22
shows the impacts of this complexity on five areas of writing, assigning topics, the concept of
"real" writing, the nature of academic discourse community, contrastive rhetoric, and
responding to student writing. She then demonstrates how, in these areas, teaching decisions
differ depending on the stance (or the approach) a teacher takes. She warns against sub-
scribing to one approach because this tends to deal too simplistically with a very complex and
composite area. The diversity of variables related to learners, learning settings, and purposes
of writing dictates the type of approach(es) to adopt.

A comparable view was reported by Silva (1990) who also thinks that there are four
competing approaches. He believes that although the development of such approaches has
complementarily enriched the understanding of ESL composition processes, they are rather
unproductive. He judges the shift to be too quick, and premature, to service ESL writing
instruction:
“… it [the merry-go-round of approaches] generates more heat than light and does not
encourage consensus on important issues, preservation of legitimate insights, synthesis
of a body of knowledge, or principled evaluation of approaches. It is not surprising
that such a situation engenders a great deal of confusion and insecurity among ESL
composition teachers" (p. 18, my italics)

To improve this situation, the author makes two suggestions. First, he calls for the evaluation
of the approaches in a principled manner, taking into consideration contributions of various
elements: the L2 writer, the L2 reader, the L2 text, the contexts for L2 writing, and the
interaction of all these elements. Second, he requires that the role of these approaches be
considered within a coherent model of the interrelationship of ESL writing theory, research,
and practice. For this purpose, three questions need to be addressed: (1) whether a given
approach is informed by an appropriate and adequate theory of L2 writing, (2) whether that L2
writing theory is supported by credible (valid and reliable) empirical research, and (3) whether
the approach itself is supported by valid and reliable research; i.e. whether it has been utilized
as a basis for syllabi that have been empirically proven effective and efficient. Silva makes
these suggestions because he believes that the four approaches are narrowly construed as each
privileges a single (albeit important) component of writing and that none of them seems to be
sufficiently grounded with regard to theory and credible research.

More narrowly, the preference of certain teaching styles may be driven by psychological
factors. Klasewitz (1989) has demonstrated how psychological factors affect the way teachers
carry out the teaching of composition. She believes that at least two of these factors play a
very important role in teachers' decisions: the way the teacher believes people learn and the
personality of teacher. She asserts that she adopts a humanistic approach to the teaching of
process-writing, which may be in conflict with other teachers' styles as they hold different
views. She justifies her choice by explaining that "there are some of the procedures that work
for me. Perhaps other teachers who have similar teaching styles may find my ideas helpful...
[other] teachers [with different personality types] will reject these ideas as being unsuitable for
them" (p. 102).

It is clear that none of the above paradigms provides adequate solutions to writing problems.
Theoretically, literature does not provide enough arguments for the adoption of a certain
paradigm. Besides, none of the paradigms has been adequately supported by empirical
research. Thus, the tentative solution is for teachers to subscribe to all the existing paradigms
in the hope of finding practical solutions to their unique situations.

23
The two examples treated thus far provide enough evidence that any methodology may solve a
typical problem; however, no one methodology - may solve all the problems. The secret of
good teaching, therefore, is for teachers to be accurate when making choice among the array
of suggestions made at their disposal by research. This view is voiced by Freeman and
Richards (1993):

"A good teacher is one who analyses a classroom situation, realizes that a range of
options is available on the particular circumstances, ad then selects the alternative
which is likely to be most effective in that instance" (p. 206).

Being so, teacher training, both pre-and m-service, should account for the behavioral patterns
set as a basis for the notion of a good teacher.

Towards teamwork training

It seems that in-service training in Morocco still lacks a strategy by which human resources
will be utilized effectively to launch teamwork training. The new reform of in-service training
has brought improvements only quantitatively. It stipulates that supervisors run at least nine
pedagogical meetings per year with a rate of three a term. In each meeting, a different issue is
tackled. However, due to the complexity of issues in language teaching/learning, the view
claiming that a supervisor can tackle nine issues thoroughly within such a limited period of
time seems un-tenable. Instead, to improve the quality of these meetings, every supervisor,
where feasible, should prepare only one issue a year and present it in nine different areas
within the delegation s/he supervises. This new way of training will pay off It will allow
teachers to be exposed to different competencies and perspectives, to discuss thorny issues in
a non-threatening atmosphere, and to benefit from an in-depth analysis of the issue at hand;
and supervisors to be more committed, to work less but with more effect, and to receive
enough feedback from teachers to publish the views they defend during the nine performances
of their pedagogical meetings. However, the problem of implementing this way of training in
remote areas still needs further administrative measures because the number of supervisors
may be limited or the parts of the supervisory areas may be far from one another.

The type of training advocated in this paper should address the two main components of
teaching: science and art (or theoretical and practical areas). The following model applied by
Freeman and Richards in second language teachers' education (1993:209, following Zahorik,
1986) seems plausible for a comprehensive training: Idealized Views of Teachers' Practices
according to each Conception of Teaching.

According to scientifically based conceptions, teachers should:


. understand the learning principles derived from a particular body of research,
. develop criteria for tasks and activities based on the principles/ findings,

. monitor students' performance on tasks to see that desired outcomes, according to task
criteria, are being achieved.
According to theory-or values-based conceptions, teachers should:
. understand the coherent theory and principles on which a particular set of practices is based,
. select syllabi, materials, and tasks based on theory/principles,
. monitor one' s teaching to see that it conforms to the theory/principle,

or

24
. understand the values and beliefs which underlie a particular set of practices,
. select those educational means (techniques, procedures) which conform to the values/beliefs,
. monitor their implementation to ensure that the values/beliefs are being maintained.
According to art/craft conceptions, teachers should:
. treat each teaching situation as unique,
. identify the particular characteristics of each situation,
. try out different teaching strategies, procedures, techniques to address those characteristics,
. reflect on and assess the efficacy of the strategies for the learners within that teaching
situation,
. through this interactive process, develop an internally consistent, personal approach to
classroom practice which responds to the unique demands of the situation. (Freeman and
Richards, 1993: 209)

To cope with the above levels, it is advisable to include mini-courses, where theoretical
matters will be exhibited and discussed, in addition to the existing ways of training, such as
short talks, workshops, demo-lessons, open discussions, etc. Also, it is highly recommended
that the inspectorate should work in collaboration with other parties concerned with TEFL in
Morocco, namely universities, ENS, national and international as well as non-governmental
organizations.

Conclusion

Research in language teaching does not tend to provide either/or suggestions; on the contrary,
it provides continua in the form of arrays of suggestions for teachers to make choices that fit
their teaching situations. This implies that to subscribe to one approach and attribute a
supremacy to it will be a shortsighted procedure. To cope with the contradictory facets of (an)
approach(es), in-service training should sensitize teachers to the existing approaches and gear
towards flexibility in making choice. This may entail necessary changes so that a method will
accommodate the specificities of the Moroccan classroom. Once the Moroccan teachers of
English develop their senses of plausibility (to use Prabhu's terms) across the three
conceptions of teaching suggested above, they will be adept to meet the challenges of the 2lst
century. They will also go beyond the methodology of English language teaching and thus
develop views about educational matters in general; hence, they will fulfill their roles of
educators.

REFERENCES

Blanton, L.L. 1995. "Elephants and Paradigms: Conversations about Teaching L2 Writing" in
College ESL, 5 (1); pp. 1-21.

Connor, U. 1987. "Research Frontiers in Writing Analysis" in TESOL Quarterly, 21(4); pp.
677-696.

Freeman, D. and J.C. Richards. 1993. "Conceptions of Teaching and the Education of Second
Language Teachers" in TESOL Quarterly, 27 (2); pp. 193-216.

Hairston, M. 1982. "The Winds of Change: Thomas Kuhn and the Revolution in the Teaching
of Writing" in College Composition and Communication, 33 (1); pp. 76-88.

25
Klasewitz, V.W. 1989. "Personality Types, or Why I Teach Composition the Way I Do" in
CATESOL Journal, Nov.; pp.
97-103,

Larsen-Freeman, D. 1986. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford


University Press.

________________ 1987. "From Unity to Diversity: Twenty-Five Years of Language-


Teaching- Methodology" in Forum, XXV (4); pp. 2-10.

Ministère de l'Education Nationale, 1994. Rencontres Pédagogiques concernant les


Professeurs Exerçant dans l'Enseignement Secondaire: Documents Relatifs à la
Troisième Année Secondaire.

Ministère de l'Education Nationale, 1996. Rencontres Pédagogiques concernant les


Professeurs Exerçant dans l'Enseignement Secondaire: Documents Pédagogiques
pour l'Anglais (The Official Guidelines).

Prabhu, N.S. 1990. "There is no Best Method- Why?" in TESOL Quarterly, 24(2); pp.161-176

Raimes, A. 1991. "Out of the Woods: Emerging Teaching of Writing" in TESOL Quarterly,
25 (3); pp. 407-430.

Richards, J.C. and T.S.R. 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching: A
Description and Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Silva, T.1990. "Second Language Composition Instruction: Developments, Issues, and


Directions in ESL" in Barbara K. (ed.) Second Language Writing: Research
Insights for the Classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press; pp. 11-23.

Widdowson, R.G. 1990. Aspects of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

ZAMEL, 1987. "Recent Research on Writing Pedagogy" in TESOL Quarterly, 21(4); pp.
697-715.

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26
"DESIGNER" APPROACHES: WHICH ONES
WIL FIT THE 2lst CENTURY?

Charles B. Martin
Université Hassan II, Faculty of Letters
and University of North Texas, Denton, Texas.

In the western world foreign language teaching began in the second century, B.C. when
Roman youth studied Greek, taught both at home and in the schools. As oratory became more
important for service in the Forum in the days of the Republic, rhetoric became an important
part of the education of well-to-do Roman youth (Bowen, Madsen, and Hilferty. 1985,pp. 6-
7). The great Roman teacher Marcus Fablus Quintilian, in his Institutio Oratoria, favored an
immersion approach in which Greek was the language of instruction. His lessons were
practical and contextualized (Bowen et al, p. 8). With the decline of Greek and the growing
importance of Latin in the Middle Ages, Latin grammar became a vital part of the seven
liberal arts, along with rhetoric, which included both "effective oral expression and eloquent
written expression" (Bowen et al, p. 8). As Vulgar Latin developed into the various Romance
languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Rumanian, etc.), cassia Latin continued to be
an important part of the university curriculum, even in countries like England, where a non-
Romance language was spoken. By this time the focus is on Latin grammar, often taught
through grammar-translation.

A few men like the Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1466- 1536), the French nobleman
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), and the Moravian bishop John Amos Comenius (1592-
1670) advocated a more inductive approach in which the student discovered the structure of
the language through practical and meaningful conversation and graded presentation of syntax
(Bowen et al, pp. 11-13). By the l8th century Latin, was no longer the medium of instruction,
and it was learned mainly through grammar-translation, a method that was popular long into
the early l9th century. However, grammar-translation had run its course and was being
replaced, at least in northern Bu-rope and the United States, by "natural" and "direct"
methods, so called because they focus on immediate contact with the target language. First
through listening and speaking and later through reading and writing. Modem vernacular
languages have supplanted Latin as the target language. The most important new methodology
to emerge in the 20th century was audiolingualism, which arose after World War II out of
what was called the "Army Method", a method developed to teach soldiers how to speak the
many foreign languages needed for a global military enterprise. The method was greatly
influenced by behaviorist psychology, which promoted the notion, expounded by B.F. Skinner
in his Verbal Behavior, that first languages are learned through imitation, and by structural
linguistics, which had focused on describing the phonology, morphology, and syntax of both
exotic and contemporary languages. Mimicry-memorization and pattern-practice became the
basic technique, and students were drilled repeatedly on the basic language patterns both in
the classroom and the language laboratory. Over-learning was typical of this method. On the
positive side students were learning to speak, something they had not been able to do earlier.
And the new methodology had the prestige of psychologists, anthropologists, and linguists
behind it. On the negative side it was repetitive and dull. With the advent of Noam Chomsky's
work on generative-transformational grammar and his subsequent attack on behaviorist
psychology, the focus changed from language learning as mimicking patterns to language

27
learning as a creative process? Is the human brain pre-wired for language learning? Does it
need only exposure to language in order to reconstruct the system used in the learner' s
environment? Many educators were convinced that language learning needed meaningful
context which would encourage creative mental activity. Many of the new theories have been
lumped together under the rubric Cognitive-Code, which suggests such creative cognition
(Carol, 1965; Bowen et al, p. 393).

As these new methods developed we can see at the same time the growth of ESL/EFL as a
profession. International TESOL was organized almost thirty years ago and has grown to a
membership of several thousand subscribers. Its annual conventions are attended by 4 to 5
thousand teachers, directors, and publishers. It has affiliate organizations throughout the
world. The mother organization publishes a journal, the TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Journal,
and TESOL Matters. Most major publishing houses now have special sections of ESL/EFL
books.

By the 1970's a great deal of research on second language acquisition helped to inspire a
number of innovative approaches, some of which were marketed as the latest fashion in ESL
and EFL methodology and the answer to every language learner’s needs. These "designer"
methods, to use David Nunan's term (Brown, p. 58), like designer jeans, proved to be a current
fad which soon went out of style. A few of these methods come quickly to mind. Charles
Curran's Counselor-Learning makes the students into clients and the teachers into counselors
who translate the student's native talk into the target language. Georgo Lozanov's
Suggestopedia focuses on relaxed learning in a comfortable setting with baroque music
playing in the background. Caleb Gattegno's Silent Way uses Cuisinere rods and wall charts to
focus on problem-solving tasks with very little teacher talk. James Asher's Total Physical
Response capitalizes on motor activity to reinforce mental activity. Tracy Terrell's and Steve
Krashen's Natural Approach stresses the importance of listening while the target language is
being acquired before the actual production of speech begins. (These methods are more fully
described in Brown, 1994; Richards and Rodgers, 1986; Browen, Madsen, and Hilferty, 1985;
Larsen-Freeman, 1986 Hadley, 1993, 2nd ed.)

Training sessions in Community Language Learning are still advertised in the United States,
but as a method it best serves college age groups all with the same native language.
Furthermore, there is some question of its appropriateness as a counselling medium. The
claims made by Lozanov for his Suggestopedia cannot be proved and his sub-conscious
learning has actually been denounced as pseudo-science. Gattegno's Silent Way is a highly
controlled discovery method which still has many followers. Like CLL it requires teachers to
be trained specifically in its methodology. Total Physical Response works well at the be-
ginning levels but becomes more difficult as language structures become more complex. The
Natural Approach, with its focus on "comprehensible input and "meaningful communication,"
comes closer to more recent communicative methods.

The 1970's also saw the development and use of the notional-functional syllabus in the United
Kingdom (Brown, p. 66). By organizing the instruction around specific contexts and particular
language functions, this approach, according to Douglas Brown, set the stage for
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), which is popular today. Re quotes David Nunan,
who lists five main features of CLT:

1. An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language.


2. The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.

28
3. The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the
learning process itself.
4. An enhancement of the learner's own personal experiences as important contributing
elements to classroom learning with language activation outside the classroom learning
with language activation outside the classroom.
(Nunan, 1991, p. 279; Brown, p. 78).

From this point on I will focus on Douglas Brown's book Teaching by Principles: An
Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy and suggest some activities for teaching the four
basic skills, which of course cannot be taught in isolation but in an integrated, interactive
approach.

At the beginning levels many classroom activities will seem like traditional exercises, as
indeed they should. After all, one does have to learn to utter the sounds of the target language,
many of which may be difficult to the students who don't have those particular sounds in their
native language. One has to practice an occasional structure, as in phatic communication, just
to get talk moving. Nevertheless, activities should involve real language in situations as
authentic as possible. For example, a beginning listening activity for word recognition
involves listening to a weather report while looking at a word list and circling all the words
one hears. A similar exercise at an advanced level involves listening to a lecture segment, then
to a statement from which key words have been omitted and filling in the missing words.
(Brown, pp. 247-250; adapted from Peterson, 1991). The lecture is typical of the kinds of
learning activities the student will experience in the university classroom; i.e., the content re-
quires some basic knowledge of a particular area or subject, hence some knowledge of the
world outside the classroom, which is another feature of communicative language teaching
mentioned earlier.

Likewise, speaking at the elementary level can be imitative as we learn basic phatic
communication. However, these beginning dialogues are interactive from the beginning in that
"Good morning. How are you?" requires some kind of response. An-other beginning activity
to promote speaking is to state one' s likes and dislikes for any or all of the following: foods,
leisure-time activities, movies or television programs, etc. Students can work in pairs or small
groups to make the activity more inter-active. The basic pattern of "I like Il don't like" can be
expanded to simple Wh-questions like "Which sport do you like best?" or more provocative
questions like "What is the position of women in society?" (For examples of proficiency
levels, see Hadley, 1993, pp. 233-266).

Of the four basic skills, reading is probably the least conductive to interactive techniques in
that skilled readers read alone reacting only to the author of the text. However, at early levels
of reading, the focus is often on intensive reading, i.e., the significance of grammatical
structures, discourse markers, or significant vocabulary items, or even the shapes of the
graphemes themselves. In a bilingual classroom for immigrant children, the children were
shown words that they encountered every day on their way to school or in the school building
itself: STOP, OAK ST., SLOW, SCHOOL CROSSING, BUS STOP, EXIT, HRE ESCAPE,
BOYS, GIRLS, LIBRARY, words which could be taught as sight words, recognizable by their
shapes and also by their placement on signs or in buildings. As the words were flashed on a
screen the children called them out. At least these words are meaningful as a part of their
"outside" world. In an-other class the children dictated stories which were typed in large print
and projected on a screen, an activity called the Language Experience Approach. Each child

29
was able to read his or her own story, and some children even read theirs before they appeared
on the screen. The children soon saw the connection between speech and print.

At an adult level in literacy classes in Survival English for re-cent immigrants to the United
States, a similar approach was taken with words not only on street signs and buildings but also
on menus, grocery advertisement, want ads, job application forms, and other documents which
they would encounter in their daily lives.

So far these reading activities have dealt only with recognizing words and simple sentences.
Reading extensively, which means rapid reading with full comprehension of text including
implied meanings and subtleties of tone, can be taught by teaching certain reading strategies
that are taught to native speakers, e.g., skimming/scanning, reading for the main idea, reading
for detail, guessing at the meaning of unfamiliar words, etc. Students need not be restricted to
printed classroom texts because there is more than enough good reading material “outside" in
news papers, magazines, and popular books. As for interaction activities, these may well be
related to spoken or written discussions about the text, hence a combining of skills, which is
another facet to communicative language teaching.

In the teaching of writing to native speakers of English in the United States, the traditional
goal of writing was the finished product: "Write a 500-word essay on what you did last
summer, write in ink on wide-ruled paper (one side only), and turn it in next Monday."

By the following Monday the paper would be marked in red ink, often with numbers
corresponding to a list of common errors from a rhetoric manual, and a grade at the top of the
paper. If the student were lucky there might be a few remarks by the teacher on the quality of
the essay or some ideas for improvement next time.

Today in many schools throughout the United States the emphasis has shifted to what is called
process writing. Which should do most of the following:

a) focus on the process of writing that leads to the final written product;
b) help student writers to understand their own composing pro-cess;
c) help them to build repertoires of strategies for prewriting, drafting, and rewriting
d) give students time to write and rewrite;
e) place central importance on the process of revision;
f) let students discover what they want to say as they write;
g) give students feedback throughout the composing process (not just on the final product) to
consider as they attempt to bring their expression closer and closer to intention;
h) encourage feedback both from the instructor and peers;
i) include individual conferences between teacher and student during the process of
composition. (Brown, p. 320).

This approach has influenced ESL and EFL programs as well. At the very beginning levels of
writing one has, of course, to learn how to make the letters themselves if he or she is not liter-
ate in a language which uses a Roman alphabet. Our first graders in school, who are native
speakers of English, do this, too. In the EFL class the early assignments may be classified as
"con-trolled" or "guided" writing in that they follow certain pre-scribed formulae. However, as
the student' s facility in speech and reading increases, his or her ability to write will also
improve so that the process approach could work. Certainly this cooperation is in keeping with
an interactive approach. Ad-vantages include the following: the students get some insight into

30
their own composing process in that they have an immediate sense of audience for their ideas
when their own peers help them "brainstorm" ideas and keep the pertinent ones and discard
the irrelevant ones. Their peers can give immediate feedback on whether or not the written
ideas make sense, and can even suggest better wording or even correct spelling and
punctuation, etc. The teacher also gives feedback as the composition is revised. The writer's
confidence begins to build as the essay takes shape.

The final word has not been spoken as yet on the success of process writing, but of those I
have talked with who use it, most agree that it is a step forward form the traditional product
method and certainly more rewarding to the student in that the finished product is better.
These have been just a few samples of communicative language teaching as outlined by
Douglas Brown and others. There are many similar approaches being promoted today, most
with the term communicative in the title. The thing that these approaches have in common that
will take them into the 2lst century is that they focus on communication, which means the
exchange of meaning between speaker and listener. The language teaching profession, as
stated earlier, has grown into a well-established profession, backed by much good, solid
research into second language learning. Those of us who have been in the profession a long
time know that it can be a frustrating one as some students succeed without much help from us
while others get hopelessly lost in the language learning process. It is tempting to try out
whatever new 'designer' styles appear on the market, but we have too much experience now to
be seduced by the latest fad. Most of the 'designer' methods I mentioned have many re-
deeming qualities, but we need to keep only the parts that work and tailor them to fit our own
goals. What seems to work best today is communicative, a term which covers a lot of ground,
including interactive learning, negotiation of meaning, relevant materials, and authentic texts
with real links to the world outside the classroom. With this kind of approach we should be
dressed and ready for the 2lst century.

References

Bowen, J. D., H. Madsen, and A. Hilferty. 1985. TESOL: Techniques and Procedures.
Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Brown, H. D. 1994. Teaching by Principles: an Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy.


Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall Regents.

Carroll, J.B. 1965. "The Contribution of Psychological Theory and Educational Research to
the Teaching of Foreign Languages." Modem Language Journal, 49 : 273-281.

Hadley, A.O. 1993. Teaching Language in Context, Second ed., Boston, MA: Heinle and
Heinle.

Larsen-Freeman, D. 1986. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford


University Press.

Peterson, P.W. 1991. "A synthesis for interactive listening". In Celce-Murcia, Marianne
(ed.), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, Second ed. Rowley, MA: Newbury
House.

Richards, J.C. and S. R. Theodore 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching.
Cambridge University Press.

31
Rivers, W.M., and M.S. Temperley. 1978. A Practical Guide to the Teaching of English as a
Second or Foreign Language. Oxford University Press.

Back to Contents

32
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

John Battenburg
University of Tunis I/
California State University.

The Past in ELT

In this century significant contributions have been made to English Language Teaching
(ELT). Why such innovations came into being, what they represent, and how they relate to
each other must be considered by language teachers. Knowledge of the benefits and
drawbacks of each method of second language teaching is essential if a truly eclectic approach
is to be adopted. By appreciating the depth and breadth of our discipline, teachers may better
understand the implications of selecting a particular method for the classroom. Instead of
following that which is in vogue, language teachers should be encouraged to experiment with
a variety of methods. Let us briefly examine some of the innovations in ELT in the past 100
years.

Early in this century we benefited from the work of ELT pioneers such as Palmer (1930),
Ogden (1930), and West (1936). These scholars were fascinated with the issue of vocabulary
control in second language learning. Although the questions they asked and the answers they
proposed differed, each was interested in determining the relative frequency and usefulness of
vocabulary items for language learning purposes.

In the decades following World War II we experienced the rise and then decline of the famous
(and infamous) Audio lingual Method. Although this "drill and kill" method suffered from
over dependence on mimicry and memorization of "textbook language," certain characteristics
of the Audio lingual Method such as encouragement of dialog and limited use of contrastive
analysis have continued to be beneficial. The emphasis on behavioral psychology and
structural linguistics has certainly waned; however, we can still gain insights from
representative linguists of this era such as Fries (1945) and Lado (1957).

Beginning with the 1960s we were exposed to a wealth of contributions about second
language learning. An array of methods as dynamic and diverse as Asher’s (1965) Total
Physical Response, Gattegno's (1972) Silent Way, Van Ek and Alexander’s (1975) Notional-
Functional Syllabus, Curran’s (1976) Community Language Learning, and Lozanov's (1979)
Suggestopedia were adopted for our classrooms around the world. We were deeply influenced
by the importance placed on the “deep structure” of language and learning by transformation
generative linguists such as Chomsky (1957; 1965) and cognitive psychologists such as
Ausubel (1968). At the same time we realized the value of humanistic factors emphasized by
Rogers (1951) such as self-esteem, motivation, empathy, attitudes, and personal growth in
second language learning. Brown's (1975) comments about the value of humanistic education
are still worth careful consideration today: "Man has a mind. Man has feelings. To separate
the two is to deny all that man is. To integrate the two is to help man realize what he might
be" (108).

In the 1980s, we were mesmerized by Krashen and Terrell's (1983) Natural Approach. The
basic premise behind the Natural Approach, of course, is that close parallels exist between

33
first and second language acquisition. The distinction between learning (a conscious, formal,
and explicit process) versus acquisition (a subconscious, informal, and automatic process) as
well as the hypotheses concerning the "monitor" and "comprehensible input" are well known
and increasingly controversial. In addition, the concept of allowing students an indefinite
“silent period" has worried certain language teachers. The importance placed on natural
communication through the use of contextualized language is in my opinion the most valuable
characteristic of the Natural Approach. Although this idea about language learning is hardly
new, it is worth reasserting continually.

A drawback with almost each method, however, is that it has been marketed under the "one
size fits all" slogan. We still assume that a single method can be equally effective for all
second language learners. Teachers have commonly been eager to grasp hold of a "new and
improved" innovation without carefully evaluating how it can coexist with earlier
contributions. Certainly, each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Rather than
simply ask whether a particular method is successful, however, we should determine
characteristics of numerous methods that can assist second language learners. Teachers need
to "test drive" a wide variety of activities based on many methods. This is what constitutes an
eclectic approach. Communicative language teaching is multi-dimensional, creative, and
spontaneous. Students acquire language if they engage in real-life communication. Language
teaching methods that encourage such language use share communicative aspects and
continue to be worthy of our consideration.

The Present in ELT

Recently a provocative article entitled "The Trouble with TESOL" by Benson (1993) appeared
in the journal English Today. Benson's fundamental objections about the TESOL organization
in the U.S. (and by extension the profession at large) are as follows: first, TESOL is
preoccupied with trivia; second, it disregards complex issues concerning English grammar and
usage such as problems of syntax, use of articles, dialects of English, phrasal verbs,
collocations, idiomatic usage, morphological variants, word and phrase stress, and stylistic
nuances; and finally, the organization is unable to tolerate viewpoints that challenge the "party
line. Needless to say, the executive branch at TESOL was not amused as evidenced in the
letter of response appearing in the next issue of English Today. Although Benson has
obviously overstated the failings of TESOL, I believe we are so concerned how to teach
language that we often neglect to consider what to teach. The content of language learning is
every bit as important as the context.

Present innovations in ELT remind us that current materials and methods owe a debt to their
predecessors. For our purposes today, I would like to explore several contributions in
lexicography and methodology. The publication of Michael West and James Endicott's (1935)
New Method English Dictionary was an extremely important contribution to both
lexicography and ELT (Battenburg 1994). Since then, dictionaries designed for second
language learners have continued to progress. Whitcut (1986:111) has stated for dictionaries
to be "user-friendly, you first have to know who you have got to be friends with. We know
who we are, but who are they?” Lexicographers today have a much better idea about the needs
of language learners using dictionaries.

Empirical research conducted in the past thirty years concerning dictionary user habits,
reference skills, and attitudes has been valuable. In addition, lexicographers have been aided
by access to spoken and written databases which provide examples of actual English usage. A

34
number of useful dictionaries intended for second language learners of English have appeared
on the market.

English monolingual learners' dictionaries such as Longman Dictionary of Contemporary


English (1987), Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English (1987), Collins
COBUlLD English Learner's Dictionary (1989), and Cambridge International Dictionary of
English (1995) represent sophisticated tools designed to assist language learners and teachers.
In fact, these works deal with much of the grammatical and usage information commonly
ignored by our profession. English monolingual learners' dictionaries have the potential of
answering a wealth of questions concerning language. I believe our students would profit
considerably if they were guided to such works.
In addition, the recent Longman Language Activator (1993) represents a landmark in
lexicography. This project which combines a thesaurus and a dictionary for language learners
is quite unique. Basically, the Longman Language Activator organizes lexical items and
phrases together by semantic concept. One can quibble with the 1,052 key concepts which
have been selected, and one can question whether they in fact "express the meanings at the
heart of the English language." The Language Activator succeeds, however, because it assists
students in language production. Traditionally, dictionaries have been designed to assist
language learners more with decoding activities than with encoding activities. The Language
Activator represents a giant leap, for it suggests lexical alternatives and provides guidance for
making appropriate choices.
Concerning current methods in second language learning, two innovations deserve
consideration. Multi-Sensorial Language Acquisition (or the Bimodal Model) focuses on
creating an environment whereby both hemispheres of the brain are used in second language
learning. As illustrated below, Danesi (1988) argues that the left and the right hemispheres
serve different yet equally important functions in processing language:

Left Hemisphere Right Hemisphere

• Understanding of the formal


• Determination of the relations (phonological, sentences as declarative, morphological, etc.)
among interrogative, imperative, the parts of a sentence or conditional
• Linking of the syntactic and
• Determination of semantic elements in a sentence figurative meaning
• Determination of sentence
• Understanding humor implication and identification
• Processing of most of formal errors prosodic phenomena (19)
• Control of motor functions of speech

Multi-Sensorial Language Acquisition attempts to integrate grammatical left hemisphere


activities with communicative right hemisphere activities. All five senses are appealed to in
the second language classroom: sight, hearing smell, taste, and touch. By using a wealth of
realia along with audiovisual and computer technology, teachers and students simulate real
language in the classroom. Multi-Sensorial Language Acquisition owes much to Krashen and
Terrell’s Natural Approach. It suggests that as we contextualize our everyday lives so should
we also contextualize our students' experiences.

The Lexical Approach is one of the most recent innovations in ELT. Lewis (1993) believes
that the grammar versus vocabulary dichotomy in second language teaching is artificial and
invalid. Instead, he views language as being made up of lexical or multi-word "chunks." The

35
Lexical Approach suggests that the most valuable way to teach a second language is for
instructors to focus on collocations (or "the linguistic environment"). For example, Lewis
suggests structuring classes around such "collocation boxes" as the following:
In my free time I really love to play tennis
to go riding
to go swimming (119)

The Lexical Approach is unique for its emphasis upon detailed analysis of the lexicon in
second language learning. Bloomfield (1933:274) viewed the lexicon as an "appendix of the
grammar, a list of basic irregularities," and (Chomsky 1965:87) stated that "all properties of a
formative that are essentially idiosyncratic" are to be included in the lexicon; however, Lewis
and re-searchers such as Nattinger and DeCarrico (1992) have come to realize that valuable
insights about language and language learners can be gained by focusing on the lexicon.

Present contributions to ELT continue to build on our rich heritage. Perhaps the most valuable
insight we have gained in the last several decades is that grammatical competence alone
cannot account for speaker intuition about language. The concept of communicative
competence which was originally suggested by Hymes (1972), later developed by Canale and
Swain (1980), and recently expanded upon by Bachman (1990) is one of the most significant
contributions we can bring to ELT. It is essential that we equip our students with all four types
of competencies: grammatical, textual, illocutionary, and socio-linguistic.
Although we have witnessed great advances in ELT throughout this century, in many ways the
goals we share are very similar to those of earlier generations of language teachers. Howatt
(1984) correctly observes that "the underlying philosophy has remained constant":
Learning how to speak a new language . . . is not a rational process that can be organized in a
step-by-step manner following graded syllabuses of new points to learn, exercises and
explanations. It is an intuitive process for which human beings have a natural capacity that can
be awakened provided only that the proper conditions exist: Put simply, there are three such
conditions: someone to talk to, something to talk about, and a desire to understand and make
yourself understood. (192)

The Future in ELT

I would like to conclude by suggesting five maxims or guiding principles which may assist the
ELT profession as we usher in the twenty-first century. While I am confident that ELT will
continue to advance in the next century, I am equally certain that we must address the
following issues:

First, our profession must nurture a healthy eclecticism in ELT. No single, optimal method
exists for teaching or learning a second language. Those who sell a "one size fits all" method
are often motivated by the enticement of professional advancement or economic gain rather
than academic integrity. As you well know within the North African context, for example,
people have been learning other languages for thousands of years. Bilingualism and
multilingualism in many parts of the world are the norm--not the exception. As teachers, we
can only facilitate this process of language learning.

Second, our profession must collaborate with other disciplines. Although I understand the
professional and academic reasons for referring to ELT as an independent discipline, I am
uneasy about such an outlook. ELT is interdisciplinary by nature. In our research and teaching
we commonly draw from theories of linguistics, anthropology, composition and rhetoric,

36
psychology, and pedagogy. We are enriched when we pursue knowledge with other
professionals devoted to language learning.

Third, our profession must reject the premise that first language acquisition and second
language learning are essentially the same process. Students are inevitably influenced by their
knowledge of their first language as well as the following variables: cognitive strategies,
personality factors, sociocultural variables, and pedagogical factors. Many methodological
approaches fail to consider that adults differ fundamentally from children when acquiring
language. Although teachers may at-tempt to simulate language experiences in the most
natural way possible, students will often insist on relating their second language back to their
first language.

Fourth, our profession must encourage the use of recent technological innovations in the
second language classroom. Computers equipped with compact disc technology and
"information highway" access have the potential of changing how we teach and learn
languages. If the goal of every classroom is to become less artificial, then here is a way of
closing the chasm between the "classroom world" and the "real world." One cautionary note,
however, is that technology alone is not inherently valuable. Computer hardware and software
can never replace the teacher.

Finally, our profession must continue to share ideas together in forums such as the Moroccan
Association of Teachers of English. If we are to address the needs of ELT in the next century,
we must accept the privileges along with the responsibilities of our profession. We must
celebrate our triumphs as well as ac-knowledge our shortcomings. English Language
Teaching will continue to make significant contributions if we build on--not neglect--
contributions made by our predecessors; if we realize what we teach is as important as how we
teach; and if we re-member that by teaching language we have the power to significantly
change the way in which our students view them-selves and the world around them.

References

Asher, James. 1965. The strategy of the total physical response: An application to learning
Russian. International Review of Applied Linguistics 3, 291-300.

Ausubel, David A. 1968. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. New York: Holt,
Rinehart, and Winston.

Bachman, Lyle F. 1990. Fundamental Consideration in Language Testing. Oxford: Oxford


University Press.

Battenburg, John D. 1991. English Monolingual Learners' Dictionaries: A User-Oriented


Study. Tübingen: Niemeyer.

______________ . 1994. “Pioneer in English lexicography for language learners: Michael


West”. Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America 15, 132-
148.

Benson, Morton. 1993. “The trouble with TESOL”. English Today: The International Review
of the English Language 9,1, 3-15.

37
Bloomfield, Leonard. 1933. Language. New York: Holt.

Brown, George. 1975. Human is as confluent does. In George Brown, Thomas Yeomans, and
Liles Grizzard, eds. The Live Classroom: Innovations through Confluent Education
and Gestalt, 99-108. New York: Viking Press.

Canale, Michael and Merrill Swain. 1980. Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to
second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1, 1-47.

Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton.

______________ . 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

Cowie, Anthony C., ed. 1989. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English. 4th
ed. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Curran, Charles A. 1976. Counselling-Learning in Second Languages. Dubuque, IL:


Counselling-Learning.

Danesi, Marcel. 1988. “Neurological bimodality and theories of language teaching”. Studies in
Second Language Acquisition 10, 13-31.

Fries, Charles C. 1945. Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press.

Gattegno, Caleb. 1972. Teaching Foreign Languages in Schools: The Silent Way. New York:
Educational Solutions.

Howatt, A. P. R. 1984. A History of English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University


Press.

Hymes, Dell. i972. On communicative competence. In J. B. Pride and J. Holmes, eds. Socio-
linguistics, 269-293. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin.

Krashen, Stephen and Tracy Terrell. 1983. The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in
the Classroom. Oxford: Pergamon.

Lado, Robert. 1957. Linguistics Across Cultures: Applied Linguistics for Language Teachers.
Ann Arbor: U Michigan P.

Lewis, Michael. 1993. The Lexical Approach: The State of ELT and a Way Forward. Hove,
England: Language Teaching Publications.

Lozanov, Georgi. 1979. Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy. New York: Gordon and
Breach Science.

Nattinger, James and Jeanette DeCarrico. 1992. Lexical Phrases and language Teaching.
Oxford: Oxford UP.

38
Ogden, Charles K. 1930. Basic English: A General introduction with Rules and Grammar.
London: Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trubner.

Palmer, Harold. 1930. IRET First Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection. Tokyo: Institute
for Research in English Teaching.

Procter, Paul, ed. 1995. Cambridge International Dictionary of English. Cambridge:


Cambridge UP.

Rogers, Carl. 1951. Client Centered Therapy. Boston: Hough-ton Mifflin.

Sinclair, John, ed. 1989. Collins COBUILO English Learner's Dictionary. London and
Glasgow: Collins.

Summers, Della, ed. 1987. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. 2nd ed. Harlow:
Longman.

Summers, Della, ed. 1993. Longman Language Activator. Harlow: Longman.

Van Ek, J. A. and L. G. Alexander. 1975. Threshold Level Eng lish. Oxford: Pergamon

West, Michael and James Endicott, eds. 1935. New Method English Dictionary. London:
Longmans, Green.

West, Michael et al. 1936. The Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection for the Teaching of
English as a Second Language. New York: King and Son.

Whitcut, Janet. 1986. The training of dictionary users. In Robert F. Ilson, ed. Lexicography:
An Emerging inter-national Profession, 111-122. Manchester: Manchester UP.

Back to Contents

39
SHOULD ELT IN MOROCCO BECOME
MORE SPECIFIC?

Andy Seymour
University of Reading, U.K.

I take as my starting point the challenging editorial in the MATE Newsletter Vol. 16 N0 3,
Winter 1995. Under the heading "Challenges: Some Food for Thought" M'Barek Ahellal
announces the well-chosen theme for this MATE Conference, sensibly placing developments
in Moroccan ELT in a broader educational context. Then, looking towards the 2lst century, he
says that "the challenge for Morocco will be to move from 'teaching English for no obvious
reasons' (TENOR) to teaching English for specific purpose (ESP)" with serious implications
for teachers in the classroom as well as for syllabus designers, materials developers and
teacher trainers. "Teachers will have to re-examine their teaching strategies to accommodate
the particular needs of the learners. This ideally implies a close co-operation between subject
matter teachers and language teachers, which will benefit both. Such a move (TENOR to ESP)
will also necessitate additional efforts in areas like syllabus design and teacher training". This
would involve teachers in comprehensive and detailed needs analysis and more structured m-
service teacher training. In the classroom the traditional language skills would have to be
extended to include appropriate study skills and critical thinking skills.

I would like to pose the question: as the 21st century approaches should Morocco be moving
from TENOR to the teaching of ESP? Is English really taught for no obvious reason at present
and should ELT in Morocco in the future become more specific? There is an increasing
demand for English as the international language of communication, often in very specific
fields. In Business and Management, in Science and Technology and in many areas of
Educational Research and Development, English is the language used. Morocco, like other
countries, will want to continue to make progress in these fields, and so the teaching of ESP
will continue to be an important component in that progress. Teachers of English will need to
know more of what their students need English for, so that relevant courses can be designed
and taught. This is why ESP Resource Centres are being established, and research into various
aspects of ESP is being encouraged in Morocco and elsewhere. A good model is to be found
in Tunisia where the national ESP Project now en-compasses Research and Resources as well
as Teaching and Training, all targeted on the particular needs and situation of the students, the
institutes, the country and the region.

However, this need for ESP in some areas does not mean that we are all ESP teachers now,
nor even that we should be. TENOR or TESP is not the only choice. A great deal of English
language teaching takes place in schools. I am sure that many MATE members are teachers in
schools where, as in schools all over the Maghreb and elsewhere in the world, English is
taught for very sound general educational reasons. The purpose for learning and teaching
English may not be obvious to those who speak of TENOR, but ministries and other policy
makers have their reasons for teaching English just as they do for the teaching of maths or
science. In most schools it is neither TENOR nor TBSP but the Teaching of English for
General Purposes (which unfortunately provides no catchy acronym, tough EGP is as good as
ESP).

40
It is nevertheless important that teachers of BGP learn from developments and research in the
teaching of BSP, and pay attention to the syllabus as well as to the materials, keeping in touch
with developments in other areas of Education as well as in their specific subject area. As the
Tunisian ESP Project has demonstrated, ESP Resource Centres can be just as useful to EGP
teachers.

Not all ELT in Morocco needs to become ESP but all Moroccan ELT teachers should
carefully consider their own situation to en-sure that what they are teaching is relevant. Study
skills as preached by EAP practitioners in situations where English is the first or second
language may not be a top priority in places where English is not the medium of instruction.
Knowledge of developments within the educational system in general will help indicate the
requirements of the ELT syllabus; in some cases ESP will be required while in others EGP
will be more relevant. Moroccan teachers of English need to be aware of what is happening in
the teaching of other subjects in their schools and institutions. A great deal can be learnt from
research into ESP needs in relation to co-operation between teachers of different subjects.
Teachers of English need to be aware of what is happening in the teaching of other subjects in
their schools and institutions. Teachers of English should be aware of objectives, materials
and methodologies so that ELT is not presented as something entirely separate from the
education system and culture in which it is taught. Too often, ELT seems to be out on a limb,
unrelated to other subjects. At the University of Reading, UK, where I now work, many study
skills are an immediate top-priority for some students because of the nature of their courses of
study. But we have to be wary of over-generalisations; some students have to attend lectures
while others do not, some have to write essays while others do not, some have to prepare long
dissertations while others do not.

In many schools and institutions in the Maghreb, where English is not the medium of
instruction, there are other priorities. What research into ESP teaches all of us is to examine
our own situation carefully.

When considering worldwide changes and innovations in ELT, including developments in


ESP, Moroccans, like others, should consider what is relevant in their own situation. In this
sense, ELT may become more specific. More attention to ESP may be required in some
institutions where specific purposes can be clearly identified, but in secondary schools it may
be a better EGP course which is required. We can all learn from the principles of good ESP
practice and help ELT to be more specific but this does not necessarily mean only ESP.

41
TOWARDS A SYSTEMATIC TEACHING
OF ORAL SKILLS

El Arbi Imad
Item Bank Team,
Casablanca.

Introduction

Since the rise of the communicative approach to language teaching, one of the major
challenges has been to prepare learners to use the language appropriately and spontaneously.
This depends on how teachers understand and implement their objectives. For example, if
teachers aim to make their students communicate, they should teach them some essential
basics that are conducive to make the act of communicating take place, such as vocabulary
and grammar. However, the mastery of these basics is far from being sufficient to guarantee a
successful use of language. Rather, communication involves other aspects such as the social,
functional and pragmatic use of language. Widdowson (in Brumfit and Johnson 1979:118)
states that.

"Communication takes place when we make use of sentences to perform a variety of


different acts of an essentially social nature. Thus, we do not communicate by
composing sentences but by using sentences to make statements of different kinds; to
describe, to record, to classify and so on..."

The role of language then should be promoted in its social dimension. Therefore, the teaching
of spoken language needs to take into account the social context for students to be able to in-
teract successfully.

The intent of this paper is to shed light on the processes involved in spoken language with a
particular focus on conversational skills and communication strategies. Then, I will draw
some implications for language teaching and learning. Finally, I will conclude by proposing
some ways that would enhance students' use of natural spoken discourse.

1. The nature of speech

People use speech every day to express ideas, to give information, to entertain, to make
comments, to request, to invite, to accept an invitation or refuse it. So, there are so many
reasons why people wish to speak. But, what do we actually do when we speak? An
examination of the nature of speech is of paramount importance to the language teacher in the
sense that it can help him her understand the processes involved.

1.1. Characteristics of speech

Characteristics of speech are of two types: linguistic and contextual. In their analysis of the
nature of speech, Brown and Yule (1983) distinguish between speaking and writing. They

42
argue that writing is characterized by well-formed sentences combined together to form
"structured paragraphs". In contrast, speech is characterized by

• incomplete sentences;
• very little subordinations;
• very few passives;
• not many explicit logical connectors (moreover, however,...);
• replacing / refining expressions (thing, fellow, chap ...);
• the use of generalized vocabulary (thing, nice, stuff, place...);
• repetition of the same syntactic form. (Mc Donough and Show, 1993:155-6).

As for the contextual features, the speaker does not have enough time to plan and organize his
spoken utterances. Out of haste, he produces short sentences which may contain grammar
mistakes because as Bygate (1987) argues "We lose our place in the grammar of our
utterances. Mistakes are also made in both the message and the wording, we forget things we
intended to say, the message is not so economically organized as it might be in print " (p: 11).
Together with time pressure, limitations of production of utterances under contextual pressure
are also involved. Speakers have to keep the conversation going on, to draw the listener's
attention. Writers, on the other hand, have more time to think, plan, organize, correct and
make changes.

1.2.Interactions skills

Spoken language follows a set of rules and structures that help speakers encode and decode
speech. These rules and structures are referred to as "Interaction skills" (see table and consist
of:
• routines;
• management of interaction;
• negociation of meaning.

Bygate suggests that routines are among the characteristics of oral interdictions and defines
them as 'conventional mays of presenting information". For him, there are two kinds of
routines: information and interaction routines. Information routines contain frequently
recurring types of information structures and can be either expository (description, instruction;
comparison...), or evaluative (explanation, justification, prediction, decision...). Interaction
routines could be found in job interviews, dinner parties, phones calls...).

Another component of oral interactions is the management of interaction (needed by


participants to negotiate meaning). It has two aspects: agenda management and turn-taking.
Agenda management is concerned with the choice of the topic and the way the conversation is
developed by speakers. Turn-taking can be described as:
• involving how to signal that one two wants to speak;
• recognizing the optimal moment take turn;
• knowing how to use one's turn;
• knowing that another participant desires to take turn;
• knowing how to leave the floor to another participant.

43
The third feature of interaction skills is negociation of meaning. This concerns the way and
procedures of making one self understood. These procedures might include conversational
skills and strategies.

INTERACTION SKILLS

Adapted from Nunan (1991: 40)

2. Conversational skills

Conversational rules and structures are concerned with how conservations are generally
organized. Among the features of conversational skills are:

2.1. Interruptions
They are real life and are tolerated in conversations e.g.: "Sorry for interrupting you"/ "Sorry I
didn't hear"...)

2.2. Starting a conversation (opening)


People start conversations by greeting each other, talking about the weather, making general
complaints.

2.3. Ending a conversation


We use strategies to close a conversation. We do not stop without preparing the ground for
that. We use expressions such as" Sorry, I have to go now". "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you /
talk to you".

2.4. Shifting from one topic to another


When participants want to change the topic of the current conversation, they use expressions
like " By the way, "It reminds me of...»

2.5. Turn-taking
In an official setting, there is usually a chairman who assigns turns to the speakers. In natural
conversations, there is no "chairman" to organize turns. Participants have the right to intervene
and can manage the interaction in terms of who says what, and to whom.

3. Communication strategies

44
Communication strategies involve, as Dornyei (1995) states, "verbal and non verbal means of
dealing with difficulties and breakdowns that occur in every day communication" (p: 55). Ellis
(1985) also defines them as:

"psycholinguistic plans 'which exist as part of the language user's communicative


competence. They are potentially conscious and serve as substitutes for production
plans which the learner is unable to implement." (Ellis, 1985 :182).

Communication strategies are crucial to keep communication going on. They are also
effective and can promote oral interaction and enhance fluency. With the rise of the
communicative language teaching approach, many studies have been conducted on
communication strategies (Faerch and Kasper, 1983). The following are the most important
strategies.

3.1. Paraphrasing; i.e. giving an example or a description of an object your do not know its
name,. e.g. "It's a kind of”/ "something like".

3.2. Asking for Help; when conversing, sometimes we call for help because we do not know
the word, e.g. "what do you call ?" "what is the word for?"

3.3. Asking for clarification; " what do you mean? what are you aiming at?"
3.4. Using fillers, hesitation and pauses (to take time to think).

3.5. Code-switching; i.e. switching from one language to another and using a form from
another language.

3.6. Foreignizing; i.e. adapting a form to make it appear like a foreign language form.

3.7. Substituting; i.e. replacing a form by another. - Not knowing the word apple, one may
use "fruit".

3.8. Waiting; people sometimes wait for an item to come.

3.9. Making sure whether the interlocutor has understood; e.g. do you see what I mean?

3.10. Non linguistic strategies; i.e. the use of mimes, gestures and body movements. And of
course, there are other strategies that compensate for the breakdown of communication. (See
Ellis 1985: 184-5, for a more exhaustive typology).

The strategies I have listed are termed "achievement strategies" or "compensatory strategies".
There is another type of strategies: reduction strategies, which can be either formal (avoiding
L2 rules in fault of certainty) or functional (avoiding speech acts or discourse functions). This
type of strategies makes students reduce their original ideas because they find it inhibiting to
express them through their limited linguistic knowledge. That's why they are referred to as
"reduction strategies".

As teachers we have to develop and encourage "achievement strategies" They can be


"employed by the learner because he lacks or cannot gain access to the linguistic resources
required to express an intended meaning" (Ellis 1985:181).

45
4. Implications for teaching and learning

To replicate everyday conversations, teachers have given importance to the teaching of


functions (agreeing, disagreeing, giving advice, refusing, making comments, complaining.
The list can be extended as there are so many functions to deal with).

Needless to say that it is a good idea to provide students with a list of functions in order to
prepare them for life. Unfortunately, sometimes some of us, as well as some text writers fail to
teach functions in a relevant context where such functions should be used, i.e. they teach them
just like grammar structures with mechanical drilling.

Another limitation deals with the function of advising (ought to, should) and it is drawn from
research. Frankel and Todd (1984) recorded authentic interactions between doctor and
patients. They found that the patterns that textbooks expose deviate significantly from the
recorded data. They then concluded that the input provided by textbooks might not prepare
students to interact in real- life situations.

The above limitations prove that, in fact, spoken language is more than teaching functions. To
teach oral skills effectively requires being sensitive to the importance of oral interactions, as
well as being aware of their nature and characteristics. This will help teachers understand the
structures of speech and teach accordingly. Therefore, the way conversations often close, the
way we take turns to speak, we shift from one topic to another should be encouraged from the
early stages of language learning by exposing learners to samples of natural speech with the
purpose of enabling them to use the language for its natural purpose. This parodies Hymes'
idea that "there are rules of use without which rules of grammar would be useless" (Hymes in
Brumfit and Johnson, 1979:15)

By the same token and in terms of learning, Nunan (1989) distinguishes between "learning
that" and "knowing how" (c.f. Widdowson's dichotomy of 'usage" and "use" J978: 2-10). The
former is concerned with knowing different rules and structures where as the latter deals with
knowing how to use them effectively and appropriately in real communication. Nunan,
1991:7) states that:

"Learners need the ability to articulate phonological features of language


comprehensively; mastery of stress, rhythm, intonation, patterns, an acceptable degree
of fluency, transactional and interpersonal skills, skills in taking short and long
speaking turns, skills in the management of interactions, skills in negotiating
meaning..."

This suggests that when "we ask our students to use the spoken language, we ask them to take
part in a process that involves both knowledge of the structures and functions of the target
language, as well as a general knowledge of what happens in an interaction between a speaker
and a listener" (Imad and Saadouni 1994:16).

5. Some ways and suggestions to promote oral interaction

To be systematic, teachers should:

• expose learners to authentic discourse: T.V programmes, real interviews, video shows. With
satellite dishes now, we have a variety of programmes provided they are comprehensible;

46
• allow learners thinking time: (waiting as a strategy);
• bear noise, interruptions, mistakes . These mean that learning is taking place;
• encourage students to use communication strategies. Strategies should be viewed from a
positive perspective;
• sensitize students to the spoken language and its role in learning a second language;
• put students in situations where they have to provide information (two-or multi- way
information gap activities);
• ask students more referential questions (those whose answers the teacher doesn't know) than
display ones; (e.g. what's the opposite of "down" ?) and then negotiate meaning wherever
required;
• encourage students to ask questions (both teacher-student and student-student questioning);
• adapt textbook materials which may seem unnatural;
• serve as a good model by interacting as naturally as possible with students in class.

As far as the activities are concerned, they might include role-play, problem-solving,
interviews, picture description, information gap activities, natural use of language in the
classroom, (For practical activities of these types, see Nolasco and Arthur, 1987).

I take information gap activity as an example because it highly approximates real


communication, and learners can ask questions, make requests, explain, correct, ask for
clarification, paraphrase, take turns, in general, and to a certain extent, use the language as it is
used in real situations.

In this technique, learners have to fulfil the task by getting the missing information from each
other. So, they have to communicate to fill in the information gap in a meaningful situation.
And since what counts more is the discussion, the materials for this elicitation technique
should be carefully selected to avoid creating tasks that are too demanding, like solving
problem tests. Moreover, teachers should check whether:

• the task is clear;


• it is meaningful;
• it develops learner's communicative competence;
• it contributes to learning;
• it increases students' participation;
• it involves an attainable objective.

Conclusion

In this paper, I have tried to consider how to approach the teaching of spoken language in
general, and conversation skills and strategies, in particular. I have also provided principles
for each of the bases of spoken languages. Hopefully, teachers will gain insights from these
principles and will implement them in their teaching practices. In this respect, further training
and more pedagogical meetings are required in order to promote the learning of oral
interaction and to prepare learners for life and for the twenty first century.

References
Brown, G. and G. Yule. 1983. Discourse Analysis. OUP.

47
Brumfit, C.J. and K. Johnson. (eds.) 1979. The Communicative Approach to Language
Teaching. OUP.

Bygate, M. 1987. Speaking in the Series: Language Teaching: A Scheme for Teacher
Education. OUP.

Dornyei, Z. 4995. “On the Teachability of Communication Strategies”. TESOL Quarterly,


29,55-84.

Dornyei, Z and S. Thurrell. 1994. “Teaching Conversational Skills Intensively: Course and
Rationale”. ELT Journal Vol. 48/1: 40-49. OUP.

Ellis, R. 1985. Understanding Second Language Acquisition. OUP.

Faerch, C. and G. Kasper. (eds.) 1983. Strategies in Interlanguage Communication. London:


Longman.

Frankel and Todd. 1984. Reported in Cathcart, R.L. 1989. “Authentic Discourse and The
Survival English Curriculum” TESOL Quarterly, 23,105-126.

Imad, E. and A. Saadouni. 1994. Research on Testing Oral Abilities in The Third Year in the
Moroccan Secondary School. Rabat.

Mc Donough, J. and C. Shaw. 1993. In Crystal, D. and K. Johnson, (eds.). Applied Language
Studies. Materials and Methods in ELT. A Teacher's Guide. Oxford: Blackwell
Publishers.

Nolasco, Rob and L. Arthur. 1987. Conversation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nunan, D. 1989. Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. OUP

_________ . 1991. Language Teaching Methodology. A Textbook for Teachers. Prentice Hall
International, UK, Ltd.

Widdowson, H.G. 1978. Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford: OUP.

Back to Contents

48
TOWARDS A MORE SYSTEMATIC
TEACHING OF VOCABULARY

Noureddine Bendouqi
Inspector of English, Errachidia

Introduction

This article reports the results of a study which investigated teachers' attitudes towards, and
views on, vocabulary learning. The first part of the article will review the literature related to
this area. The second part will consider the teaching of vocabulary in ELT in Morocco. The
third part of the article will outline the results of the study. Throughout, it is argued that the
teaching of vocabulary in our classrooms should be more systematic.

Review of the Literature

Studies on vocabulary teaching have made valuable contributions to our knowledge about the
specific processes we go through in teaching lexical items (Nation, 1990, 1994), Morgan and
Rinvolucri, (1986), Wallace, (1982), Allen, (1983), McCarthy, (1990), among others. Yet, the
systematic integration of the vocabulary component in the language classroom has been ne-
glected.

Vocabulary in Language Learning

No two would disagree about the importance of vocabulary in language acquisition. In fact,
words are the "bricks" that constitute the fabric of any language. Evidence for this can be
sought in language acquisition, in discourse analysis, in teachers' statements, and more
importantly in the learners' experience as well as their expectations of a language teacher.
"Without words, there would be no sound structure, no word structure, no syntax" (Clark,
1993:1). Our teaching in the classroom should give vocabulary teaching its due attention and
consequently should emphasize its role in language acquisition. Before starting a discussion of
vocabulary teaching, of the appropriate approaches, methodologies and teaching techniques,
let us first try to understand what a lexical item is.

Lexical Items

Defining what a lexical item is refers us to dictionaries. But to what extent can a dictionary
provide us with an accurate definition ready to map the mental lexicon? Different dictionaries
provide different definitions. They "not only differ from one another as to which words they
have the space or inclinations to recognize, but also tend to be inconsistent within their own
covers" (Partlett, 1981: 198). However, there have been many attempts to define words. They
can simply be viewed as single words, parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives) and idiomatic
expressions. Words, in turn, may be split into different categories. Clark (1993) differentiates
between words for persons, places and things, and words for actions and states.

The Internal Structure of Words

49
Having defined lexical items as being either single words or idiomatic expressions, I turn to
the problem of finding out about the internal architecture of words, and the way they may be
stored in our minds. This is an issue that has been dealt with extensively within cognitive
psychology and psycholinguistics, in particular. Generally, words are either simple, such as
ball, table, lion, or internally complex such as unfriendly, irritating, accomplishment. But the
question remains whether these words are stored as single items ready for use, or are stored
separately (stems and affixes) but put together for purposes of communication (Mackay,
1979). A possible answer is that some morphemes may already be attached to stems, others
not depending on their type. Inflectional suffixes such as "s" in speaks, "ed" in cooked are
quite often added in the course of speech. Evidence for this has been sought in slips - of-the
tongue-phenomena (e.g. "he go backs", "she wash upped" the dishes). Derivational affixes, on
the other hand, are influential in the composition of word-structure. Affixation used in this
way mostly causes change in category; for example, from adjective to verb (simple, simplify),
or from noun to verb (heart, dishearten), or from verb to noun (simplify, simplification), or
from noun to adjective (child, childish).

Another widely spread level of word formation is compounding. A brief look at the syntactic
class of the compounds leads us to distinguish between two major types: root compounds and
synthetic compounds. Root compounds include combinations of roots either with nouns (e.g.,
greenbelt, sunset), or combinations of verbs (e.g., to sidestep, to downgrade) or of adjectives
(e.g. blue-eyed, white-haired). Synthetic compounds, on the other hand, may include affixes
as in watchmaker and central-heating.

In sum, derivation and compounding characterize many established words in the lexicon.
They also offer a wide range of options for creating new words. So, teachers’ knowledge of
word structure could facilitate their teaching task, and lead the students to a better
understanding of the English word system, and consequently to a rapid acquisition of the
language.

Other levels of Word Knowledge

Knowledge of word structure alone does not enable speakers of a foreign language to
communicate their messages clearly and efficiently. Socio-linguistic and pragmatic
knowledge is crucial to effective communication. Knowledge of the social side of words
includes, among other things, the following:

• knowledge of the status of the addressee;


• knowledge of the situation,
• the purpose of communication.

In any communication act, all these variables help decide on the choice of words and the
meaning we attribute to them. "The choice of one expression over another depends on the
occasion, on what the speaker is trying to convey, and on what the addressee already knows "
(Clark, 1993:12). On every occasion, then, speakers should choose expressions that are
specific enough for their addressees to understand the intended reference.

Knowing a word also means knowing many of the different meanings associated with it.
Levelt (1989) distinguishes between different kinds of information any word should comprise.
This, he says, includes the meaning and the syntax of words (category: noun adjective, verb,
etc). The form includes the morphology (root, affix, etc) and the phonology of a word. This

50
information is assumed to constitute the building blocks of our mental lexicon (our mental
dictionary). The specific meanings of these words are organized in conceptual domains and
the number of interconnections, for example, shows the amplitude of the conceptual domain.
One may note, here, that different languages tend to organize their semantic fields differently.
For some items, you may find more specifications in a language than in another. Consider, for
example, the word camel in Arabic and English. The concept camel in Arabic may have more
inter-connections with other words than the same concept in English. So, one may add that the
cultural component also plays an important role in the organization of the mental lexicon. In
sum, semantic (in its broad sense) and syntactic information must both be taken into account
in considering the meaning and the meaning-relations in the lexicon.

As for the meanings a word may have, it is true that a word bas a great variety of different or
related meanings, and that it takes its meaning from the context in which it is used "the
dictionary en-tries for a word try to capture the most frequent ways in which a word realizes a
particular concept; however, since this is always an active process of reconstruction, much of
the way a particular meaning is formed cannot be recorded in a dictionary" (Richards, 1976:
431). This emphasizes the fact that words are not just labels for things but that they are
processed differently by different individuals for different purposes.

The Acquisition of Words.

In the course of acquiring a new word, the learner goes through different processes. At the
stage of perception, and long before he starts making the necessary connections to help
effective understanding, he bas first to isolate word forms and identify candidate meanings.
Consider, for example, pick and peak. A misperception of the word form may lead the learner
to a different conceptual domain. Understanding takes place only when the learner integrates
the "new" meaning or word form to an already existing conceptual domain; hence, the
importance of adopting different teaching techniques based primarily on what students already
know. However, understanding a target word does not necessarily mean that the learner can
put it to effective use in the different situations and different contexts. A thorough com-
prehension of the semantic field of the word and of the conceptual domains it covers, takes
place only when other socio-linguistic and pragmatic information are added on to the learner's
knowledge of the word. In sum, knowing a new word means acquiring phonological and
morphological information (form), and acquiring semantic and syntactic information (Levelt,
1989).

One of the major worries of learners who have just started learning English would be the
lexical system of the language. So, in the process of acquiring the words, they first try to
recognize the word form including, its phonological component be-fore mapping this form on
the possible meanings they usually retrieve from their encyclopaedic knowledge. This
meaning-form mapping process is triggered by the input. The input normally includes a lot of
dues to the possible meanings (be they morphological, syntactic or representing other patterns
of usage).

And based on the principles of economy and simplicity, the human brain goes about this
process aided by a set of guiding principles which may be listed as follows:
• conventionality: It refers to our tendency to learn the conventional terms first, before
moving to the less conventional ones.
• Contrast: In the learning process, we tend to contrast the in coming input with previously
learnt material. This is supposed to facilitate memorization and to highlight their

51
importance. These two principles regulate the relations between the established words and
innovations in the mental dictionary. Moreover, they constrain the choices in the form-
meaning mapping process, and accumulate knowledge about words and word structure.
• transparency of meaning: This means that teaching at different levels dictates different
teaching procedures, and what is "transparent" for advanced learners, for example, may
not be so for beginners. In Vygotskian, the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) decides
on what to count as transparent or as opaque during a given learning period.

The Mental Dictionary and Patterns of Meaning Relations

It is believed that words are related to one another in "a igantic multidimensional cob-web, in
which every item is attached to scores of others" (Aitchinson, 1987:72); i.e., the core
meanings can be found in different lexical entries. This is referred to as semantic fields». In
fact, each semantic field covers a conceptual domain, and the meaning-relations that link the
lexical items in the field show how this conceptual domain is represented. The mental
operations aiding the human brain with the acquisition of the mountains of words that
constitute a language can be categorized in terms of the functions they perform. Some words
have more generic information subsuming more specific information. A car, for example, can
be subsumed under vehicle, and the latter subsumes other kinds of vehicles, the same as a car
subsumes other kinds of cars. This is often referred to as inclusion, or subsumption, (Ausubel,
1964). The same principle of subsumption can hold for hyponyms.

Other operations include part/whole relation, incompatibility in meaning, synonymy and


overlap. (For a more detailed description of these processes, see Aitchinson, 1987; Nation,
1990; Clark, 1993.

We should take into account all these principles in preparing vocabulary lessons for both
elementary and advanced learners. However, it is debatable whether linguistic theories and
facts about acquisition are compatible with the suggested models of vocabulary teaching. So,
let us turn to teaching and try to investigate the grounds upon which the teaching operation
could be based.

Teaching Methods

Teaching vocabulary means teaching the lexical system. As has been stated, a lexical system
of a language is not a lot of isolated elements; it is a "network" of connections and of
distinctions covering the world of experience and of ideas. Teaching the connections and the
contrasts is as important as teaching the individual terms. I will turn now to the investigation
of the teaching methods adopted by secondary school teachers since they constitute the
primary focus of the present study. In fact, until very recently, vocabulary has been taught in
accordance with the structuralist approach or within a functional/notional (communicative
approach).
The former stresses the fact that grammar and structures play a more important role than
vocabulary in language learning. Consequently, the time allotted to vocabulary teaching was
reduced to the minimum. The latter, on the other hand, stresses the primacy of the language
functions over structures in language learning. Hence, the importance of vocabulary and
vocabulary development. Proponents of this approach have largely benefited from the huge
amount of data accumulated in the area of language learning. I am referring here to research in
cognitive psychology, in applied psycholinguistics, and in socio-linguistics [see Mc Laughlin
(1986,1990), Entwistle (1987), Schmidt (1990), Genesee (1982), and Cohen (1982)].

52
The most crucial research area for teaching vocabulary relates essentially to the organization
as well as the functioning of the mental dictionary. Consequently, vocabulary teaching
methods placed much emphasis on the overall teaching procedures. Firstly, a primary concern
was to select what to teach, taking into account a number of variables. They may be listed as
follows:
• word frequency and range;
• transparency of meaning;
• learners' needs.

Secondly, different researchers (for example, McCarthy 1990) highlight the importance of
organizing vocabulary in terms of topic, meaning and form. Presentation in the classroom is to
be considered as a third step. Yet, there is more to be done if our purpose is to help learners
efficiently store the target vocabulary.

As stated earlier, approaches and methods of vocabulary teaching have drawn on this area of
research to provide the teaching techniques that would contribute to vocabulary acquisition.
The question that arises is: what is the present state of teaching vocabulary in Morocco?

Teaching Vocabulary In Morocco

A brief survey of teaching vocabulary in Morocco over the last 20 years shows that we have
adopted different approaches and methods. The most common ones are the A.L.M. (Audio-
Lingual Method) and more recently, the Communicative Approach (C.A.).

For a long time teachers have "believed" that teaching structures should be the ultimate
concern of any language teacher. Vocabulary teaching was to be reduced to the minimum, for
it seldom develops by itself. And it was until the late eighties, with the flourishing of the
Communicative Approach, curriculum designers in our country came to assert the fact that
ELT in Morocco is communicatively-oriented.'

Yet, one may wonder whether our teachers are equipped enough first to understand ten to
implement the concepts of C.A. Given the discrepancy in educational and professional
backgrounds described above. Furthermore, on the basis of a set of observations, one may
claim that the impact of the ALM still holds and that there is a continuous struggle, on the part
of the teachers to depart from the belief that only structures constitute the backbone of
language teaching and start to be convinced that teaching vocabulary, among other things, is
crucial in developing both fluency and accuracy in learners.

The Study

Aims

Recently, and with the new versions of EIL1, and EIL2, vocabulary has been attributed more
importance, for large sets of lexical items appear in TBS and teachers are asked to teach them.
However, and in real-life situations, do teachers really teach all these sets of vocabulary in a
principled, systematic way? Or do they just provide students with some words whenever time
allows? This is the principal focus of the present study. We will try to investigate teachers'
beliefs about vocabulary teaching and exactly what they do to help their learners acquire the

53
lexical system of the language; priority will be given to two major processes: recycling and
testing.

Research Questions

(a) To what extent do teachers care for students' needs in teaching vocabulary?

(b) Do teachers recycle vocabulary on a principled basis for learning purposes?

(c) Do teachers make use of systematic testing of vocabulary for teaching purposes?

Subjects

The subjects of study are teachers practising in three high schools in Rabat. Some of them
have participated in a group discussion. Others were interviewed individually on the basis of a
semi-structured interview. These teachers have different academic and professional profiles: 4
first cycle teachers, all females-three of them hold a DEUG, or studied the whole year and got
the CAPES to get the status of teachers of English (1st cycle teachers), and 4 second cycle
teachers - 2 males and 2 females, with 5- to 14-year experience. They all graduated either
from E.N.S. or from F.S.E.

Procedure

Group Discussion

The group interview was adopted to find out about teachers' perceptions and attitudes (How
they think and feel and/or do). In this group discussion, we wanted to unveil what teachers
think of recycling, know the kind of recycling activities that would attract them most, and how
they should be presented if there are any. 12 teachers attended the meeting, where the issue of
teaching vocabulary was debated. All the teaching steps were presented, and their responses
were elicited. We tried to avoid providing any definite answers. Teacher-teacher interaction
was encouraged. And in an attempt to reduce researcher's bias, summing up discussions was
the responsibility of the teachers.

Interview

Eight teachers practising in 2 high schools in Rabat constituted the interviewed population for
this study. The interview questions covered different aspects of vocabulary teaching, and
special focus was placed on (1) teacher's sensitivity to learner needs; (2) the role of recycling
in vocabulary storage; and (3) the use of testing as a teaching technique for vocabulary
development. Teachers' responses were entered into checklists. As for the question types, they
were mostly open-ended, and teachers' short answers were followed up by further questions.
The first set of questions tried to unveil the teachers' awareness of learners' cognitive and
affective abilities. The second set was meant to probe teachers' conception of the process of
recycling of already taught vocabulary. The last question-types, on the other hand, dealt with
the role of testing in vocabulary fixation. One of the limitations of this study is that the
interviewing phase was conducted during the correction of Bac test papers, which dissuaded
some teachers from participating in the study. However, devising more detailed questions
helped this study achieve some of its objectives.

54
Results and Discussion

Let us address the issue of students' needs, and answer the research question: To what extent
are teachers aware of their students' needs? Data from the group discussion and from the inter-
view highlighted the fact that teachers hold different conceptions as to their awareness of
learners needs. In the first place, all teachers, except one, expressed their uncertainty when
asked if their students understood all the vocabulary they taught them. This is revealing in the
sense that the teachers are aware of the fact that no teaching method fulfils the requirements of
all the students. When further asked about the kind of students who usually do not understand
their explanations, most of them reported "the weak ones". However, one may note here that
even good students may not understand certain words. This could be attributed to the students'
different learning styles or to their motivation and attitude towards the target vocabulary.

To get more information on the same issue, we also urged teachers to say what they usually do
to account for the possible differences Four of them opted for remedial work. This is what
they said:

“later, I give another context",


"I do remedial work later",
"I come back to it in group work hours"
"I put it aside for a while and come back to it, later".

The others mentioned using visual support, if possible; repeat the explanation; involve some
students in explaining to their peers; or resort to translation. It appears from these answers that
teachers in the second category understand better their students' needs. The same applies to
their answers to the next questions: Can the students learn all the vocabulary you teach them?
And why do you think so? No teacher claimed that his students could learn and remember all
the lexical items covered; but those in the second category attributed that, more to learner
differences and motivational factors than to the teaching procedures. On the other hand,
teachers in the first group blamed their teaching techniques which were from time to time
inefficient. In fact, both variables can act against students' understanding the target
vocabulary.

Teaching techniques were one of the very few variables on which all teachers agreed. Realia
was reported to be the most efficient presentation technique. Situation and question I answer
were pinned as the most frequent, and translation as a last resort. Questions about the topics
and areas that would be of more interest to the students revealed more information about the
extent to which these teachers were aware of their learners' needs. In fact, they all reported
that topics related to youth and adolescence were the most interesting ones.

When asked about whether they ever go back to vocabulary they have already taught, all
teachers said, they usually devoted some time to revisions. However, they exhibited some
distinctions as to which vocabulary they needed to go back to, and when to go about
"revising" it.

Few teachers reported awareness of word knowledge, and hence conducting recycling
activities that would help teach the other levels of the word. Nearly all teachers explained that
they conducted recycling activities as a kind of revision and even teaching the same words, or
just provide students with more opportunities to use these words (open activities, such a as
group discussion, or using picture talk). However, as it is reported in the literature, recycling

55
activities should have as basic aims (1) to trigger background knowledge, that is providing
more opportunity for practice so as to help learners get the vocabulary passed on to the long-
term memory, (2) to create more contexts for teaching new meanings of the same word, and
meanings/ words related to the same semantic field, and (3) to provide a systematic approach
to vocabulary teaching, to help some important receptive words to become productive for "the
sake of developing learners' mental dictionary".

When asked about the time they conducted their recycling activities, 50% of the teachers
reported that their "revisions" were not systematic. When asked about the reasons, they
explained that time constraints usually acted as barriers to a systematic implementation of
recycling activities.

Recycling, in general, can be viewed as a means of leading the previously taught vocabulary
to get automated, and thus be stored "permanently" in the learner' s mental lexicon (Mc
Laughlin 1987, 1990; Mc Laughlin and Zemblidge, 1992). A further process, which teachers
can engage in, is to help learners restructure this vocabulary and consequently create new
meaning-relations. This should be the ultimate aim of any effective teaching. So, teachers
must be urged to consider more explicit ways of incorporating recycling vocabulary as an
integral part in learners' lexical development.

Now, let us turn to teachers' observations about the role of testing in enhancing the learners'
mental lexicon. All subjects (100%) were positive that vocabulary taught in class, and, for
some, even those not taught in class but guessable, should be tested. This testing is part and
parcel of the teaching operation.

When asked whether they have ever devised any vocabulary tests in their classrooms, 5
teachers out of 8 reported doing it, from time to time, and the other three said that they tested
vocabulary in their classrooms, as a part of testing reading. But the question remains: how
many times a month, or even a term, do teachers administer such "integrative tests"? (Where
they test reading ability, vocabulary and functions). In parallel with this, one can ask, "how
much vocabulary do they teach, (productively and receptively)? And how much of it do they
test? There is, of course, a huge discrepancy between the two.

Most teachers blamed infrequent testing on the length of the syllabus. Others explicitly stated
that they simply had no idea as to how to do it systematically. Perhaps, the textbook gives no
room for teachers to think about alternatives. Most teachers seem to have accumulated enough
experience to enable them to develop a clear conception of the process of teaching vocabulary.

I next elicited responses on the time of testing vocabulary. The time of testing is crucial. If a
set of information, for example, vocabulary is not tested within days after its presentation, it
can be easily forgotten (Cohen, 1982; Seliger, 1982) in psycholinguistics (see Mc Laughlin,
1990; Garnan, 1990), among others, and in applied linguistics (see Wenden, 1990) have all
highlighted the fact that a set of information, in our case, vocabulary, is not tested within days
(or weeks), it is doomed to forgetting.

Therefore, any set of vocabulary needs to be recycled and tested if the teacher's objective is to
help learners store it in the long-term memory. When teachers were asked when they "tested"
that vocabulary, most of them, 5 out of 8, responded "it depends" (from time to time or when
time allows). Three told me that they did it, either after a set of units or every fortnight. One

56
thing they all agreed upon was that there were time constraints which usually acted against
devising tests systematically.

The second most important variable in testing vocabulary is how to prepare the tests. Here, I
first dealt with what vocabulary teachers chose for their tests. Second, I collected information
about the activity types. They reported that gap-filling was the most widely used, because of
its practicality and reliability in measuring students' learning. Cloze procedure was claimed to
be used only by 3 teachers, including some of those who used gap-filling. This may be due to
the difficulty of finding suitable. The other activities (providing synonyms, antonyms, picture
description, asking students to give examples, or constructing one's own tests) did not score
high during the interview. However, we cannot deny their importance in measuring students'
learning provided they are well constructed. Otherwise, they could be counterproductive and
could inhibit learning and downgrade motivation.

When responding to whether they are satisfied with their teaching of vocabulary, ah teachers
expressed dissatisfaction with their teaching of vocabulary blaming it all on the length of the
syllabus.

Interestingly, the other teachers explained that there were sometimes other constraints. More
questions on the same issue revealed that the other 4 teachers' problems types were either
related to the scarcity of materials or to the students’ lack of involvement in some of the
reading texts in textbooks [or both]. Below are some of their responses:

[I’m satisfied . . .. sometimes there are constraints… I need materials]


[Not always, I have a problem at the level of students’ needs. They don’t like the text]

Similarly, but more strongly, one teacher expressed her disagreement with the procedure in
the TB. She said: [If I'd to do it myself, I wouldn't stick to the book]. Another even denied the
role the textbook can play in vocabulary development.

This study portrays the complex interrelationships that exist between catering for learners'
motivation towards different vocabulary types, on the one hand, and the systematic recycling
and testing, on the other hand. In fact, teachers who exhibited awareness of learners' needs
reported a high sensitivity to the importance of principled recycling activities. Similarly,
testing for teaching purposes, together with the appropriate activities, was considered crucial
by the same population. This leads us to speculate that there is an interlocking relationship
between teachers' knowledge of students' cognitive and affective needs and their conception of
the role of recycling and testing in their lexical development.

The results of this study are not generalizable because the sample population was very limited.
Further research in this area is strongly desirable.

References

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Aitchinson, J. 1987. Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. Oxford
Blackwell.

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Clark, E, V. 1993. The Lexicon in Acquisition, Cambridge: C.U.P.

Cohen. D.A. 1982. "Neurolinguistics and Second Language Acquisition". TESOL Quarterly,
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Entwistle, N. 1987. Understanding Classroom Learning. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

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Heilenman, L.K. and J.L. MC Donald. 1993. “Processing Strategies in Learner of French: The
Role of Transfer”. Language Learning, 43,4.

Jackson, H. 1988. Words and their Meaning. London: Longman.

Khairi, I.A. 1993. “Teaching Reading Vocabulary from Theory to Practice”. Forum 31, 3.

Laufer, B and P. Nation 1995. „Vocabulary Size and Use: Lexical Richness in L2 Written
Production”. Applied Linguistics, 16, 3.

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Long, H.M. 1993. “Assessment Strategies for Second Language Acquisition Theories”.
Applied Linguistics, 14, 13.

Mackenzie, M. 1990. “Letting Lexis Come From the Learner: A Word in the Hand is Worth
Two in the Bush”. Forum, 28,1.

Mc Carthy, M. 1990. Vocabulary. Oxford University Press.

Mc Laughlin, B. 1990. “Restructuring” Applied Linguistics, 11, 2.

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Mc Laughlin, B and, Zemblidge. 1992. “Second Language Learning”. In W. Grabe and R.
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Pearson, E. 1988. “Learner Strategies and Learner Interviews”. ELT Journal, 42,3.

Pica, T. 1992. “Language - Learning Research and Classroom Concerns”. Forum, 30, 3.

Qwain, M. and S. Hopkin. 1995. “Problems in Output and the Cognitive Processes they
Generate : A step Towards Second Language Learning”. Applied Linguistics, 16, 3.

Redman, S. and R. Ellis. 1989. A Way with Words. Cambridge: CUP.

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Research”. Language Learning, 43, 1.

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Second Language Learning / Teaching”. TESOL Quarterly, 16, 3

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Back to Contents

59
TEACHER SELF-EVALUATION
THROUGH STUDENT
SATISFACTION ANALYSIS

Lhoussine Oumazane,
Department of English,
Faculty of Letters, Mohammedia.

Introduction

The present paper tackles an important issue: teacher self-evaluation through analysing the
student satisfaction degree; that is, how satisfied students are.

This is, I hope, a new perspective for the teaching and assessment of English in our country.
It is hoped that it will allow teachers of English to self-evaluate and better their behaviour in
class for two main reasons: self-improvement and meeting learners' needs. Part one of this
paper tackles evaluation while the second part deals with practice and exemplification.

Evaluation - What is it For?

Supervisors in general evaluate the teacher's behaviour in class. This includes specific and
general items of the pedagogic action as practiced in a given situation, for given students, in a
given environment. There is no need to go into details concerning such items.

However, it is noteworthy to mention that students, who are the reason of being of any
training and for whom training is destined, are never asked their opinion about the contents of
a specific class or course or about their own needs and whether what they are taught matches
or not those needs. Such operation, that is, assessing the students' reactions, will provide a
tool for the teacher to self-evaluate. It is of paramount importance that the teacher conducts
this operation with his own students on a regular basis, via a quantitative analysis.

Evaluation has many advantages, some of which include effective teaching, evaluation of
learning, methodology improvement, designing and implementing remedial work, setting
standards based on the evaluation results, and above all, discovery of the real needs of the
learner and measurement of his/her degree of satisfaction.

According to Kirkpatrick (1994), evaluation of any training includes four levels: Reaction,
Learning, Behaviour, and Results. Reaction evaluation measures the reaction of learners to a
given program, class or course, while evaluation of learning measures "the extent to which
participants change attitudes, improve knowledge and/or increase skill as a result of attending
the program" (Kirkpatrick 1994:22). Behaviour, on the other hand, measures "the extent to
which change has occurred because the participant attended the training program" (Ibid).
Results, the fourth level, are "the final results that occurred because the participants attended
the program" (Ibid: 25).

This model of evaluation, originally designed for training in business and industrial settings,
can be adapted to ELT and to the classroom situation.

60
Evaluation can be summative, i.e., performed after a given course or program, or formative,
i.e., performed through checks during the process of program development. It is noteworthy
to mention that the present paper tackles the evaluation of learners' reaction only, and that the
sort of evaluation performed in such a case is formative, since it will be performed after given
classes throughout the whole year.

The question to ask, in this respect, is: How can this operation be called teacher self-
evaluation while what is really assessed is the reaction of the learner? To answer this
question, let' s first say, that a class is an event that is volatile in the sense that it is not video
or tape-recorded. As a consequence, the teacher cannot really evaluate himself while
teaching, because these two actions are, by their nature, distinct and need different
techniques. Second, the teacher cannot remember all the details of a given class. Third, the
results of the evaluation of the learner' s degree of satisfaction will make it possible to have
recorded data and to establish standards which the teacher will try to maintain. This is enough
since the teacher will be subsequently able later on, with the results of various evaluations at
different periods, to compare scores and see whether there has been an improvement. Now
that we have given a brief overview of the evaluation process and the reasons underlying it,
we will consider the practical side.

1. Self-Evaluation Procedure: How?

The first step is to design a straightforward questionnaire, to administer to students. It will


mainly focus on assessing the learner's satisfaction with aspects of a given class.

Whether this reaction sheet is administered to secondary school or tertiary level students, the
language used does not have to be English, since the main aim is to get reliable answers.
Reactions should be delivered anonymously so that they will reflect what the evaluated
teacher actually does rather than what s/he should do. Furthermore, the objective is to
evaluate reaction, not learning. The following questionnaire is suggested for consideration:

A Model of A Reaction Sheet.

Date:
Class:

Do Not Write Your Name.

Circle the appropriate response.


Strongly agree strongly disagree
1. The lesson was very clear 1 2 3 4 5
2. The lesson was very motivating 1 2 3 4 5
3.1 am very happy with the contents of the lesson. 1 2 3 4 5
4. The teacher communicated effectively. 1 2 3 4 5
5. The teacher was friendly. 1 2 3 4 5
6. The teacher listened to all students 1 2 3 4 5
7. The teacher answered all questions. 1 2 3 4 5

61
8. The teacher was well prepared. 1 2 3 4 5
9. All the students participated. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I feel the lesson will enable me to communicate 1 2 3 4 5
better

What suggestions do you for coming lessons?


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------

It is advisable that the teacher has everybody answer item after item, and explain whatever
ambiguities may arise. The last item concerning suggestions is important, although it cannot
be quantified as the preceding ones. It may suggest ways and solutions to deal with specific
aspects and may be strongly indicative of how students view the teacher's methodology.
Students should be encouraged to write their comments and suggestions in the form of brief
notes. The whole operation, i.e., administering, explaining, answering and collecting should
not exceed 15 to 20 minutes. It is equally advisable to administer the questionnaire after the
last class (in the morning or afternoon) so that students concentrate on what they do.

2. Calculation of the Degree of Student Satisfaction.

Let's take an example of a class of 23 students with their answers (below) for items 1 and 2.
The first figure in the brackets stands for the weighting (1 to 5 in the scale) while the second
stands for the number of answers. The third is the result of multiplying the weighting by the
number of answers as follows:

Item 1:
(1x1 = 1) + (2x3=6) + (3x15=45) + (4x3=12) + (5x1=l) = 69.

The formula to apply here is as follows:

d= E (w x na)
Ns

Where d is the degree of satisfaction, w the weighting, na the number of answers, E the sum
total and Ns the number of students.

We thus divide the result (69) by the number of students as follows: 69: 23=3

The result (3) means that the degree of satisfaction is 3 out of 5. To get a more significant
percentage, we have to multiply 3 by 20, which gives us: 3x20 = 60%.
We can now say that students were satisfied up to 60%, that is, the lesson was clear up to
60%.

Item 2:
(1x9 = 9) + (2x8 = 16) > + (3x3 = 9) + (4x2 = 8) + (5x1 = 5) = 47.

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47 : 23 = 2.04 x 20 = 40.8%. Students here were satisfied up to 40.8% only, that is, the
degree of motivation was of 40.8% only.

The degree of student satisfaction for items 1 and 2 are respectively 60% and 40.8%. These
figures are significant in themselves. While item l is quite satisfactory, item 2 needs
improvement. These figures are related to specific/discrete items. The objective, then, is to
improve the scores obtained.

A further operation is to obtain the global degree of student satisfaction, which is easy to do
once all discrete items scores are obtained. We compute the obtained scores and divide the
result by the number of items as follows:

Calculation of the Overall Degree of Satisfaction.

1:60% 6:49 %
2:40.8 % 7:61 %
3:52 % 8:51 %
4:57.5 % 9:38 %
5:87 % 10.40 %

We can apply the following formula to determine the global degree of satisfaction:

Gd = Ed
Ni

Where GD stands for global degree, d degree of satisfaction, E the sum total and Ni the
number of items.
The total is calculated as follows: 536.3% :10 = 53.63%.
The global degree is thus 53.63%. This figure stands for the Global Satisfaction Degree for
the whole lesson.

What is the purpose of all this? The figures are tangible, and evaluation is quantitative for
each discrete item and for all the items put together. This will allow the teacher to self-correct
his/her behaviour by trying to achieve higher scores for discrete items, which in turn will
allow him/her to achieve a higher global score. This will equally allow the teacher to
establish objectives in terms of standards (higher figures) to achieve through corrective
actions that are well-designed. If evaluation is done each term at least, which is highly
recommended, the teacher will be able to witness the progress. Such evaluation will be used
to compare scores of different classes and different levels, and compare the scores with those
obtained by other teachers.

Conclusion

This paper has been an attempt to help teachers evaluate how satisfied their students are.
There are many models of self evaluation, but this one is of a quantitative nature and is
different since it is borrowed from evaluation of training in business and industrial settings. It
will help keep tangible records and establish standards to achieve through continuous
improvement. It equally reveals strong and weak points in the teacher's methodology.

63
References

Kirkpatrick, D. 1994. Evaluating Training Programs The Four Levels. Berrett-Koehler


Publishers.

Phillips, J. 1991. Training Evaluation and Measurement Methods. (2nd ed.). Houston: Gulf.

Back to Contents

64
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FIELD
WORK AND CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS
IN STUDENTS' MONOGRAPHS

Zoubida Bellout
Hassan II University, Department of English,
Faculty of Letters, Mohammedia.

Introduction

Monograph research is one of the requirements of BA students in their final year of their
academic studies. Research at this level is of paramount importance because it represents the
outcome of four years of academic work. The central aim of monographs is to initiate the BA
student to the methodological techniques of research and to the investigation of literary,
linguistic, cultural or translation topics. To supervise these researches has very often been felt
a very tough work by teachers. In fact, the majority of monographs rely more on reviewing
literature and fail to undertake deep investigations of the selected topic. Most harmful to
university research is the unconscious or sometimes deliberate use of plagiarism and sketchy
analysis of important issues. With these flaws in academic writing, it will be extremely
difficult for university research to participate in building up a solid future of ELT in twenty-
first century Morocco. This paper will be divided into five sections:

• the first section will attempt to give a brief account of the place of monographs in the
syllabus;
• the second section will briefly present the students' attitudes to monographs;
• the third section will give a short account of teachers' attitudes to and evaluation of
monographs;
• the fourth section will evolve around the analysis of Mohammadia English Department's
list of monograph titles from 1989 to 1995 and the areas investigated;
• the fifth and final section will be devoted to suggestions for the reorientation of academic
research towards field work, contrastive analysis to achieve objectivity and make the
university at the service of its surrounding environment.

Mononographs in the Syllabus

Within the present fourth year program, monograph research represents one tenth of the
assigned topics. Both the literary option as well as the linguistic option contain ten subjects
each. The five written subjects do generally focus on the specialisation whereas the five oral
subjects form a sort of common core subjects in both options. Monograph research is ranked
among the oral subjects.

The fourth year time schedule counts twenty-two hours in total. Monograph research is
allocated two hours' seminar work. That is to say, students are expected to meet with their
supervisor to discuss or report on the issue or topic they are investigating. Methodological
procedures may, as well, be tackled; namely, outlining the organisation of the content and the
building of bibliographies.

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In the exam, the monograph research is marked out of 20. This represents both the written as
well as the oral defence. By the end of March, the student is administratively required to
supply five copies of his/her monograph to the following:
• the administration,
• the library,
• the supervisor,
• the second reader,
• and one personal copy.

The defence is traditionally made in the presence of an examination jury made up of the
supervisor and the second reader.

Students' Attitudes to Monographs

Saïb (1989, pp: 10-11) classified Linguistics students' problems into three categories:
(a) lack of preparedness in Linguistics;
(b) lack of good exploitation of the previously-learnt writing skills;
(c) lack of motivation;

The last two factors can equally be said of students in Literature according to my assessment
of their performance in the course of Advanced Composition and Introduction to research
(henceforth CIR) in third year.

In addition to these characteristics and according to personal observation in fourth year,


students tend to have two major attitudes towards research: the hard working students tend
very often to get entangled in the tiny details of their research at the expense of the other
courses; the students who have no bent for research do resort to unconscious or sometimes
conscious plagiarism. If these two extreme attitudes are not well understood and soon
corrected, they will result into serious problems, not only for students but for the academic
research on which we do rely for the improvement of our university research. How should
we, then, avoid such problems? The answer to this question will be provided in the fourth
section of this paper. In the meantime, I will address the issue of teachers' attitudes to
monographs.

Teachers' Attitudes to and Evaluation of Monographs

In our departmental meetings, it has been observed that teachers form two main groups, with
respect to their attitudes towards the nature of monographs. One group advocates short papers
be-cause they are easy to correct, less time-consuming to the student, and more practical.
Such papers would allow the student to get acquainted with an array of small investigations.
The other group of teachers sticks to the idea of a long monograph of about 30 to 50 pages in
order to give the student the opportunity to undertake a long investigation based on a wide
range of references. In fact, traditional practices that prone descriptive work with an eventual
explanation of facts, still dominate the majority of our students' studies.

With respect to monograph evaluation, double reading is one of the requirements and
conditions for the evaluation of monographs. This tradition is one of the most cumbersome
tasks the teacher has to carry out. It has, indeed, always been a problem to supervise about
five monographs and second-read another set of four or five monographs in a foreign
language department. This heavy and quite impossible task, at times, has probably to be

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excluded from the internal regulations of the department or administrative requirements, in
case the supervised monographs and the ones to be second-read exceed six.

I personally admit that teachers' attitudes should not be briefly assessed from spontaneous
reactions to monograph form and evaluation, it rather has to be the outcome of a poised
reflection at a departmental meeting, where coordination among teachers in the area of
supervision should be considered. Like the choice of textbooks to set up programs, research
seminars can equally be selected harmoniously among teachers to give students a wider range
of choices. Students have expressed their desire to have some freedom in selecting their own
topics in the lecture on introduction to Research this year. This reaction of the learners has to
be considered in the departmental meetings about re-search, seminars, in order to decide
whether freely chosen topics are allowed or not. This departmental meeting should take place
immediately after the first session of the exam, and before seminar topics are notified to
students at the end of their third year. The meeting can examine the issues of the learners'
problems and their reactions, and decide on the form, structure and function of monographs
on the basis of previous international and local studies in this field (Ennaji, Sadiqi, 1992; Saïb
1989). Teachers' attitudes towards the content of monographs should be based on a firm
grasp of the various areas of research that have been done, and the other areas which remain
to be analysed. This will lead us to the following section related to the assessment of
Mohammadia's list of monograph titles and what information it reveals.

Mohammadia's List of Monograph Titles (1989-1995)

From the study of 178 monograph titles of which 104 are on linguistics and 74 are in
literature, many conclusions can be drawn.
MONOGRAPHS EN LINGUISTICS

Year/Topics phonology Morphology D.A Composition T Lig Socio Total


1989-90 2 5 6 0 0 5 18
1990-91 1 4 2 2 5 3 26
1991-92 6 7 3 6 6 1 23
1992-93 2 3 0 0 0 2 17
1993-94 1 3 1 i 0 0 10
1994-95 0 0 5 4 4 0 10
TOTAL 12 15 44 11 15 11 10 4

PHONO : Phonology: 12 Comp :Comparative: 11


MORPH : Morphology: 15 Socio :SocioIinguistios: 1l
DA : Discourse Analysis: 44 T Lig :Textual Linguistics: 15

PERCENTAGES: Morpho-phonology 25 %
Discourse Analysis 40,74 %
Comparative Topics 10,18 %
Sociolinguistics 10,18 %
Textual Lin9uistics 13,80 %
Error Analysis 3,70 %

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A. Morpho-Phonological Monographs

Upon closer inspection of the totals of monographs dealt with in each field, we find out that
morpho-phonological research has 27 titles out of 104. These monographs are mainly based
on the study of items such as phonological processes, syllable structure and plural morpheme
derivations, mainly analysed in terms of the well-known linguistic trends: the generative or
metrical approaches. The aim of these studies is to test the findings of linguistic theory
against data drawn from our linguistic varieties, namely Classical Arabic, Moroccan Arabic
and Berber. To illustrate this, here are some tides in morpho-phonology:

- A Phonological Analysis of the Hollow Verbs in Classical Arabic: A Generative Approach


(L 5 n0 3);
- The Phonotactics of Nouns in the Dialect of Mohammadia. (L 5 n0 7);
- The Diminutive Formation in Standard Arabic (L 15 n0 65).

The findings of these studies are considered purely theoretical linguistics in that they help the
learner to assess the universal phenomena that govern languages in the linguistic varieties he
knows. They equally show the student how to conduct objective analysis by formulating
hypotheses and testing them to gain deeper insights into the working of linguistic
phenomena.

B. Monographs in Discourse Analysis: 44/104.

Monographs represent the highest percentage 40.74% in the department. The two areas where
research has been carried out extensively are the discourse of conversations and classroom
discourse. Samples of these topics will illustrate the kind of subjects dealt will, in this
particular domain:

- Request Forms in Child-Parent Conversations (L 13 n0 60);


- Some Aspects of Invitations and Offers in Moroccan Arabic (L15n068);
- Question Answering in the classroom Discourse (L 9 n0 3);
- The Structure of Teachers' Directives (L 7 n0 23);
- The Use of Prestige Varieties Among University Students (L 2n0 1).

These monographs try to analyse the discourse of actants at the university and outside it.
Since these studies seek to analyze the linguistic behaviour of the participants in University
discourse, then their findings should be taken into consideration in our teaching. As they are
based on our socio-cultural analysis they might be helpful in generating other researches in
applied linguistics to enhance the quality of teaching English as a foreign language at
university level.

In sum, the table above shows that the majority of monographs is undertaken either in
morphonology or in discourse analysis, which form 70% of students' research at
Mohammadia English Department. Socio-linguistics, comparative or contrastive research
represent only 25% of the sum total of monograph titles; and practically no research has been
undertaken for Applied Linguistics purposes or in Applied Linguistics proper.

C. Monographs in App1ied Linguistics: 04

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These monographs are pointed at by EA in the table under Textual Linguistics in the year
1994-1995. This practice is therefore relatively recent in the department. The issue these
monographs deal with is that of error analysis, and the linguistic problems foreign learners
encounter in their writing.

D. Sociolinguistics and Textual Linguistics: 11 each

The number of topics in these linguistic branches is relatively small. Therefore, it should be
increased to help students investigate both their sociolinguistic behaviour and strengthen their
knowledge of the foreign language they are studying.

E. Comparative Monographs: 11

These are undertaken in all the linguistic branches, in morphology, in discourse analysis,
sociolinguistics and textual linguistics, i.e. "The Diminutive in Classical Arabic and
Moroccan Arabic: A comparative Study»; "A Comparative Study of Semantic and Lexical
Errors in a Sample of Secondary School Students' Essays". What is needed in this area is not
only internal comparisons but comparisons between the languages the students know in order
to help them make their mode of thinking richer and deeper.

The other option in Moroccan English departments where monograph research is undertaken
by students is the literary option. In this option, the student may do research either on the
novel, drama, poetry, literary criticism or the short story. The following table shows the kind
of topics which are frequently dealt with in the department.

F)- List of Monograph Titles in Literature:

Years Themes Psycho Comp Socio Aut.Att Techni TOTAL

1992/93 12 3 2 1 1 0 19
1993194 12 1 4 3 0 5 25
1994/95 18 2 1 0 1 8 30
1995/96 42 6 7 4 2 13 74

MONOGRAPHS IN LITERATURE: 74

A)- Thematic approach (42) 56,75 % or 60%


B). Psyohoanalytical approach (6) 08,10 % or 8%
C)- Comparative topics (7) 09,45 % or 9,5%
D)- Author's Attitude (2) 17,56 % or 3%
E)- Technical topics (13) 17,56 % or 17,5%
F)- Sociological themes (4) 5,40 % or 5%

Although the titles are quite varied in the literary section, most of them do focus on
theoretical thematic analysis in literature. Between 42 and 74 topics deal with themes like:

- Transcendentalism m Nature in Emerson's Works (L23 n0 3);


- Naturalism in the Short Fiction of Stephen Crane (L25 n0 6);

69
- The Use of Myth in Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God (L26 n018).

These topics are crucial in a literary option as they broaden the mind of the student on the
thematic approach and the ideas underlying works of art. In other words, it is unquestionable,
of course, to deal with pure literature in an option for this speciality. It, in fact, opens up the
minds of students on the ideas of the target culture, the other' s ethics, and his vision of life.
Another legitimate area for monograph research is psychological analysis which can be
attested in topics like:

- A Psychoanalytic Study of the Monster in Frenkenstein (L2n0 14);


- The Psychoanalytic Approach to "the Fall of the House of
Usher and "William Wilson" (23 n0 1).

Another legitimate kind of topics for research are those that attempt to apply a sociological
analysis to novels, plays or poems.

- Feminism and the Scarlet Letter (20 n0 11);


- The Family in Ibsen's Shedda Gabler and O'Neil's Mourning Becomes Electra.

The topic on feminism tries to trace a modem social movement in a previous work of art. The
following topic attempts to depict the family: a sociological topic in the work of two
American authors. These are unfortunately far fewer than the thematic topics. Consequently,
there has to be a certain balance between the two. The comparative topics need to be
encouraged to widen the knowledge of students and make them know themselves through the
eyes of the other. African literature is a good field for comparative study. The student should
be convinced of the usefulness of comparing the notion of the head of the family in an
English novel and an African novel; or the notion of the governess in a British novel and that
of “the maid" in a Moroccan novel. Technical topics are also very crucial in that they help the
learner to grasp the linguistic as well as the technical aspects of works of art. What could as
well be beneficial to the student researcher(s) is to help them contrast the technique of
narration in an English novel to that in an African novel, their stylistic approaches, the use of
metaphors and similes in works of art they have previously studied either in Arabic or French
to a work of art they are studying in English or American Literature.

These are the kinds of topics which would help students not to forget their previously
acquired knowledge in Arabic and French. Using contrastive analysis will help students to
read a lot, to rediscover what they have previously and to criticise it or, to assign it its due
merits. The other advantage of contrastive analysis in the literary option is that it will fight
off the drawback of plagiarism.

Suggestions for the reorientation of research

The reading of these titles in the Linguistics as well as in the Literary options is quite
revealing because it has shown that both theoretical issues and to a small extent applied
issues were taken into consideration. These types of researches are vital with respect to the
improvement of teaching of English as a Foreign Language in the Moroccan context. This
section will contain three kinds of suggestions with respect to the area of academic
supervision in Moroccan English Departments:

(i) suggestions about the content and subjects of students' monographs;

70
(ii) suggestions about the form of monographs;
(iii) suggestions as to work procedures.

i) Suggestions about the content

Academic research will more effectively contribute to the corroboration of technological and
scientific research by investigating other areas of study namely the following:

(a) Translation of scientific articles from English into Arabic to both teachers and B.A
researchers in other departments;
(b) Work on lexical manuals for students in Technological institutions (E.N.S.E.T);
(c) Contrastive analysis in Linguistics as well as in other areas in the Humanities.

Colleagues in monograph supervision will see in (a) and (b) two overambitious requirements
upon unmotivated students who still have difficulties in writing as was stated above and
consider my argument self-contradictory. I do, however, strongly believe that if composition
courses are taught adequately from First to Third year and research methodology is
accurately presented to students, they will be able to cope, though inefficiently at the start,
with such areas of study.

With field work and objective investigation, academic research in EFL will eventually help in
building up a solid basis for twenty-first-century Morocco. Students will surely feel that they
are actively involved in analysing their own problems and perhaps get more and more
motivated.

Contrastive analysis will, on the other hand, widen the scope of research and help broaden the
horizon of student researchers either in linguistics, or in literature depending on the
preparedness of the student and the choice of the supervisor and the suitability of the topic.

For instance monographs on contrastive analysis in Linguistics in all its branches will help
foreign learners spot the differences as well as the similarities between the languages under
study and become aware of some of their learning problems in the target language. Carl
(1980:44) sums up the advantages of contrastive analysis in that:

1. It provides insights into similarities and differences between the two or more contrasted
elements;
2. It predicts and explains the learning problems in Second or Foreign language teaching
situations;
3. It helps in developing course materials for language teaching.

In light of these principles, my conviction is that the addition of Applied Linguistics with its
subfields, contrastive and error analysis in the Linguistics option will give students a
theoretical framework to their selected topics in contrastive analysis, ban plagiarism from
students' studies and introduce them to field work in their own linguistic context. By way of
illustration, here are some titles of monographs in contrastive analysis undertaken by students
this year:

- The Formation of Questions in Arabic, English and French: Assessing Learners' Problems;
- Parallel Structures in Arabic and English: Learners' Problems;
- Punctuation Systems in Arabic and English : the Learners' Transfer;

71
- Lexical Ambiguity: Students' Writing Difficulties;
- Phonological Cognates or “Les Faux Amis “ in French and English.

What could rather be more beneficial for academic research is to get the teacher and his
students involved in the research. That is, each teacher in his specialisation and academic
interests could ask his monograph students to join in a project and assign each student a
particular task in the project in order to do a wide scope research.

A sample of such projects is the one already started by 1987 students on error analysis
applied to First Year University students in Oujda. Such project requires that each student
researcher has to focus on one particular aspect; for example, s/he might concentrate on the
study of prepositions; another student may take up the analysis of how articles are misused,
etc. If all the aspects and areas of error analysis are, thus, worked in depth, a solid and
reliable referential work will result and be ready for the immediate use of the departmental
staff. Error analysis is not the only area academic research should focus upon to ameliorate
the quality of ELT at university, but can also go beyond its limited context. To the area which
it serves, that is to assess the linguistic behaviour as well as the psycholinguistic reactions
within adolescent communities in high schools, children in kinder garden, workers at
factories and their response to technical language and how to make their interactions relevant
to the context of their work. Translation works are badly required in such do-mains. The
translation of technical and scientific terms to colleague researchers in other departments and
the elaboration of small dictionaries for factories to transfer technological knowledge to
monolingual workers might also be helpful in achieving the qualified standard required by
twenty-first-century-Moroccan education, economy and technological development.
For academic research to be at the service of its environment, university research ought not
only to work on ways and means to promote English language teaching and enhance its
quality, but it has to get involved in areas where English is used and to participate actively in
making the Moroccan user of English more proficient in the domain of his specialisation.
Technological transfer could not be adequately accomplished unless the linguistic medium,
which is English, is made proficient and relevant to our socio-cultural context. English has
indeed become the concern of many educationalists and researchers in Morocco given its
international status (see Sadiqi and Ennaji, 1994).

Suggestions about the form of monographs

Although there is no definite form or structure for a BA monograph, I would like to make a
few suggestions in this respect in the light of my experience in the domain of supervision.

Tile title

The monograph title is a crucial part of the research in that it attempts to sum up the core of
its contents. For this reason, it always has to be concise, precise and informative. Opaque and
general titles are to be avoided e.g. "Women's Character under Shadows" (Cf. Monograph list
of titles, 1984/85 Oujda)

The introduction

Since the monograph counts up to 50 pages maximum, it would be plausible to devote one to
one and a half pages for the introduction. The points the student researcher should deal with
are:

72
1)- to delimit the topic
2)- to supply the reasons for his choice;
3)- to provide the methodology he will follow in the research;
4)- to sum up briefly the sections and subsections of his or her mono graph.

The body of the research

Being the essential part of the monograph, it generally involves both a theoretical and
practical subparts. This procedure has, often, misled students in the sense that they generally
spend too much time on the theoretical part at the expense of the practical one. What could be
rewarding is to deal with theory and practice alternatively. The aim of this technique is to see
to what extent the theoretical issues can, in fact, be applicable to the areas under
investigation.

The student researcher can adopt the analytic or synthetic approach in his writing. He may as
well proceed either by induction or deduction or both, depending on the kind of data he
collected. The only thing s/he should observe throughout her/his research is objectivity. Re
has to be totally detached from the work he is undertaking, by avoiding biased words and
attitudes.

The conclusion

The part which ends the monograph should remind the reader of the main sections of the
monograph. Its main task is to state the findings and enumerate the difficulties which have
been encountered. Another important task in the conclusion is to list the questions for further
research.

iii) Suggestions about work procedure

Although technical problems seem at first sight to be easy to solve, they nevertheless present
lots of problems both to the student researcher or his supervisor.

The time factor is one of the most intricate problems B.A students face. How to budget the
student researcher' s time?

1- Introducing students to research methodology in the third year will contribute to alleviate
the time pressure over students and help them to grasp the techniques of research before they
embark on it. If the course of CIR is taught adequately and accurately, the students will not
stumble over methodological problems in their research. It is quite unfair to devote the three
hours of CIR course to advanced composition only and postpone Introduction to Research to
the fourth year. Students will be overworked and their research will be below average
standards. Introduction to research should be earmarked an hour and half per week to
acquaint students with the techniques of research, namely how to make a difference between
scientific style and literary style, how to read for research, how to take notes, how to
comment, how to quote from references and use footnotes and write the bibliographies. If
these issues are dealt with efficiently during the course and are tested in the exam, students
will consequently find it easy to undertake research in a monograph of 30 to 50 pages. In
other words, if the students are well prepared for research in the course CIR in the third year
and are helped to well organise their time from October to February, they will surely not

73
suffer from the pressure of time in the fourth year. They will have enough time to review the
other lessons for the exam and the monograph will, undoubtedly, answer the quality
requirements it at this level.

2- The timing problem in submitting the research could be fixed. The end of February could
be a possible deadline for the monograph first draft. Organising the research period by asking
the students, for instance, to submit the outline and the bibliography at the beginning of
October, then during October and November field work and the analysis of the data will be
conducted with the regular checking of the supervisor. By the beginning of January, they
should have the first part of the monograph already corrected, and the second part in process
in order to be supplied to the supervisor in February.

Other technical problems such as typing editing and binding can be handled in March at the
end of which the monograph will be officially submitted to the administration. By sticking to
these dates, the students will undoubtedly no longer suffer from the pressure of time in the
fourth year.

3- The plagiarism aberration can be prevented by:

a. Informing the teachers of all the lists of monograph titles which have previously been dealt
with in the English Department from 1989 Up to the present date.
b. The supervisor should rather try to get his students work on a new and untackled research
question.
c. The supervisor should, encourage his students as often as possible to do field work by
using adequate tools, such as interviews, questionnaires, data collection, analysis and
statistics, etc.
d. Students should be convinced of the importance of their research, no matter how small it
may seem to them, by explaining to them how and where it can help and may be of use.

It is quite an unforgivable mistake to let students' monographs doomed to get yellowish with
time on the library shelves. Some of the strategies to bring them back to life are the
following:
1- Make the student sum up all his findings and the questions he raised for further research on
a separate paper to be put in a departmental file for easy reference.
2- Have some students work on all the monographs which have investigated issues related to
Applied Linguistics, English language teaching or learning in the Moroccan context.
3- Ask one student or two each year to analyse critically the techniques of writing in a
number of monographs.
4- Establish catalogues with commentaries to exchange with other departments of other
universities throughout Morocco.
5- Exchange the findings in Applied Linguistics with the Faculty of Education and other
educational institutions for easy implementation in ELT.

To conclude, EFL in Morocco needs huge efforts to be made in the field of supervision at
university. Reorienting students' research has to be as varied as possible in that it should
strike a balance between theoretical and practical issues. From this presentation on the
importance of field work and contrastive analysis in students' monographs, it becomes clearer
that a course in Applied Linguistics can help students avoid plagiarism. As to field work, the
course of Introduction to Research has to be taught meticulously and tested in order to be
well assimilated and applied to monograph writing in Fourth Years. Thus, fighting off the

74
time pressure students suffer from and raising the standards of monograph research. If these
two areas of monograph supervision in ELT to meet the requirements of 21st century
Morocco.

References

Carl, J. 1980. Contrastive Analysis Singapore: Longman.

Sadiqi, F. and M. Ennaji. 1994. Applications of Modern Linguistics. Casablanca: Afrique


Orient.

Saïb, J. 1989. “Research Paper Writing in Linguistics: Some problems and Tentative
Solutions”. A talk at the Oujda Department.

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