|Busbee Home||Table of Contents||Next||Previous|
X. Discussion and Conclusions
n this paper I have presented the case for the widespread teaching of content within the framework of a traditional conversation class, in that it would provide comprehensible input, which is required for language acquisition (Krashen, 1984; Sheen, 1994). Such teaching of content, which Adams (1995) has carried out in Korea, seems to be rare among NSs in this country. I have also provided a one-semester series of 15 lectures that may be useful to conversation teachers by making their classroom environments more communicative by helping them to provide students with a rich supply of comprehensible input. Even if a teacher does not wish to teach on the subject of phonology, the lecture series may point to other possibilities. However, I do present in this paper the case for teaching the theory of English pronunciation, at least to university students, as a way to improve both listening and pronunciation (Murphy, 1991; Gilbert, 1993; Han, 1996). Finally, I have provided both general and specific information on how to teach a content course in Korea.
The 15 lectures on the theory of English pronunciation presented in the appendix are based on the following assumptions:
1. Processing large quantities of CI, although not in itself enough to lead to acquisition, is central to the process of acquisition, or as Sheen (1994) puts it, CI is essential, but not sufficient in itself, to bring about acquisition.
2. Teaching content in the target language is an excellent way of providing CI, or as Krashen (1984) maintains, "comprehensible subject-matter teaching is language teaching."
3. While it would be valuable to offer Korean college students a variety of content courses taught in English, such as basic computers, design for non-art majors, the history of jazz, or international cooking, there are many problems involved in authorizing and developing such courses, as well as in keeping them staffed with qualified teachers.
4. A way to circumvent the difficulty of offering content courses is to include the teaching of content in conversation courses. This would be an excellent use of NS resources, especially with English classes usually so large. Littlewood (1984), strongly questioning whether speaking is as central to the basic learning of a language as is usually assumed, concluded that "we need to accord a more substantial role to... listening and reading activities, [which] offer a number of practical advantages in the classroom... however large the class may be." In addition, the frequent change of class activities keeps student interest high, and a short lecture is one more activity.
5. Given the overwhelming consensus among ESL theoreticians that CI is necessary for language acquisition, the task has gone beyond experimentation on the effectiveness of content teaching as a means of language teaching. What is now needed in the field of EFL content teaching is for teachers to begin including the teaching of content in their repertoire. This would be facilitated by developing content course lesson plans that can be put to broad-based use across a variety of situations. To be widely useful, the plans must meet the following criteria: 1) They must be detailed enough to provide a basis for teaching a course, alleviating the often overwhelming demands required of a teacher for course development from scratch. 2) They must be short, from 5 to 15 minutes long. 3) They must deal with readily comprehensible material, yet the material must be complex enough to require a reasonable amount of speaking to cover.
6. Such lesson plans will have no value unless teachers using them master the skills of delivering oral input that is both comprehensible and comprehended. The speaking style of a teacher must differ significantly from the "teacher talk" normally seen in EFL classes in Korea. To increase the likelihood that the oral input is comprehensible, the teacher should speak slowly, pause, repeat often, and rephrase, use gestures and put quick sketches on the board. It is also helpful to review frequently and to write terminology on the board and define it. To increase the likelihood that the oral input is comprehended, the teacher should ask individual students questions during the lecture and should maintain an active testing program.
7. Although any subject that is presented so as to be comprehensible would suffice, a good choice for subject matter in a conversation class would be anything directly relating to learning English. A good candidate would be the theory of English pronunciation. Murphy (1991) suggests that formal instruction in phonetics improves both pronunciation and listening, an idea supported by the work of Han (1996). This would is especially valuable for Korea, where listening comprehension is a major weakness (Korea Times, May 30, 1997).