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Richards & Lockhart (Ch. 8 The nature of language learning activities)
Teachers use variety of activities to achieve the goals of the lesson. All lessons should have a particular language goal and an activity will be followed by the type of the goal to be achieved. There are many kinds of activities where teachers use in the classroom such as presentation activities, practice activities, memorization activities, comprehension activities, application activities, strategy activities, affective activities, feedback activities and assessment activities. Since most of my students are under 8 years old, I usually stick to the simpler activities where students can adapt their newly acquired knowledge into the new setting but in a very straightforward way.

Richards & Lockhart (Ch. 9 Language use in the classroom)
The important thing to remember in the language classrooms is that the goal of the lesson is the target language and also the means by which the goal is delivered is in that target language as well. So it is very important for teachers to modify their language, to use appropriate questions and give feedback to the students and also to interact with the class using the target language properly.


Richards & Lockhart (Ch. 8 The nature of language learning activities)
An activity is something that a teacher uses to achieve a particular teaching goal. A teacher needs to make a decision of what activities to use and when to use them to maximize the instructional goals. Those activity types can be categorized into a few: presentation activities with new learning materials introduced for the first time, practice activities with the opportunities of performing what has already been learned, memorization activities with memorization of learning material, comprehension activities with students demonstrating their understanding of what is learned, application activities with students making use of knowledge or skills in a creative way, strategy activities with the development of learning strategies, affective activities with the intention of elevating the motivational atmosphere in the classroom & positive attitudes, feedback activities, and assessment activities to evaluate whether learning goals have been met.

Richards & Lockhart (Ch. 9 Language use in the classroom)
Classroom language is critical in that it is both the goal and the tool of the lesson. Except TPR (total physical response), a teacher usually needs to give out directions and explanation during the class, and one of the common strategies is repetition. A teacher can also speak at a slow pace, use pauses, enunciate, or modify vocabulary (grammar or discourse). These kinds of strategies can result in a special type of discourse, teacher talk, which helps both language comprehension and learner production.
Another commonly employed class techniques is questioning due to its benefits such as stimulating students’ interest and participation. Three kinds of questions are commonly used in the classroom, procedural, convergent, and divergent. Procedural questions relate to classroom procedures, routines. They are usually designed to increase students’ comprehension and classroom participation, and engagement in the lesson. Convergent questions are something that usually induces short answers such as no, yes or short statements, which rarely encourages students to engage in higher-level thinking process. Divergent questions are something in which students can respond in great diversity with longer answers. One thing to be considered is wait time when a teacher asks questions of students. Too short a wait time is hardly sufficient for students to produce good answers, and thus a teacher needs to be patient and allow a long enough wait time.
Feedback is another critical aspect of classroom teaching. In terms of a speaking class, feedback is to be given out based on the students’ content or the form (or the accuracy) of their speaking.
Learner language use in the classroom has been of great importance to students in developing language skills. One approach to look at it is to focus on communicative functions in the classroom. There has been suggested the taxonomy of communicative functions. The other approach is to use activities in order to facilitate communicative language use.


Richards and Lockhart
Chapter 8 and 9 of Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms examines language learning activities and language use in the English classrooms. Reading both chapters, I could have some quality time to look back and reflect on the activities I plan for my own classes and the language that I use in my classrooms. Richards and Lockhart (1996) introduce nine different types of activities teachers use to achieve their instructional goals in their classrooms. They are presentation activities, practice activities, memorization activities, comprehension activities, application activities, strategy activities, affective activities, feedback activities and assessment activities. The classification of different types of activities helped me to realize how the activity types and the purpose of the class should meet in order to make both the activity itself and the language teaching successful. Richards and Lockhart (1996) also discuss about the language use in the classroom, both the teachers’ language and the students’ language. Various strategies were given as examples such as modification of language, questions, feedback, and etc. The reading allowed me to have some time to think about what kind of classroom language is really taking place in my English classes. I could look back at my own classes and think which of those strategies I am implementing in my classrooms and which kinds I need to work on in the future classes.


Richard and Lockhard chap 8 and 9

In this book, activity is defined as a task that has been selected to achieve a particular teaching and learning goal. It influences both how teacher conceptualize teaching as well as the ways they organize their lessons. Lesson planning begins with the consideration of the goals and then leads to decisions about the types of activities which will help attain the goals. Teachers often develop objectives as they plan specific teaching activities, instead of breaking down the goals into behavioral ojbectives and then developing activities to match objectives. In this respect, activities are regarded as the basic structural units of planning and action in the classroom. Richard and Lockhart classified different types of activities in chapter 8: presentation, practice,memorization, comprehension, application, strategy, affective, feedback, and assessment. In selecting and designing classroom activities, the teacher should consider many different factors. I think especially how to communicate the purpose of the activity to the students is the one that the teachers should consider in order to sucessfully lead the class. Chapter 9 deals with how teachers use languge in language classrooms. Teachers need to get the students' attention, monitor their understanding by constant checkingm, clarify, explain, define and summarize. Teachers do this by using many strategies such as modifying their languages, questioning or repeating, etc. Questioing is the most commonly used technique by the teachers because it stimulates and maintains students' intersts, encourages them to thnk, enables teachers to clarify, elicit or check understanding and encourages participation. Wait time is an important dimension of a teacher's questioning skill. If a teacher increases the wait time to 3-5 seconds, then the participation will increase.
What was more interesting in this chapter is that not only the teacher's talk but also the language used by learners has been examined. The issue of the quality of the lnaguage used by the learners when completing communicative tsks concerns both formal and communicative appropriacy. A lot of researchers turned out various conclusions. Many argued that learners used grammatically and sociolinguistically inappropirate languages, but Lynch(1989)proved that communicative tasks provide enough opportunities to ask questions which the learners followed the correct word order.


Week9: Richards and Lockhart(1996),
Chapter 8 The nature of language learning activities

I could summarize the characteristics of the activities of language learning. Most of all, the activities should match the objective because the activities are designed to complete the objective. Next, teacher should consider learners’ language level, learning styles, and interest. Too demanding activities are not good for low-level student. Thus the teacher needs to take the best activity for the target students’ level .The teacher also needs to consider other factors such as time, table setting, and grouping arrangement. Lastly, I think the activities’ sequence is very important to guide students to move forward from lower difficulty to higher difficulty to get closer to the objective. I believe that good sequencing is to make students to have a successful experience by performing the activities.

Chapter 9 Language use in the classroom

The last chapter of Richards and Lockhart (1996) is the most interesting theme in this book. The authors clarify well the characteristics of language in the classroom as both “the goal” and “the means” (p.182). In the classroom, I can deal with English as the goal. However, I found English as the means difficult because when I explained the word in English that my students didn’t understand, they looked double puzzled. Thus, I used very simple classroom English as the means. However, my ultimate goal of this semester is to use 90% English for the target expression and for teacher’s talk. I’d like to try modifying students’ language, using questions, and giving feedback in English. When I try those things, the authors’ advice will be useful: speaking more slowing, using pause, enunciating, modifying vocabulary, modifying grammar, and modifying discourse. Next, I found it interesting that “learners will make less use of formulas and produce a more varied range of sentence patterns and structures”(p.196). For students’ interlanguage development, I’d like to give a chance to my students to be able to produce more various sentence patterns than only a few correct expressions. Lastly, this chapter lets me rethink about right timing and types of feedback. I’d like to research the effective way of feedback by giving my student feedback in several ways.


Richards and Lockhart (1996)
Chapter 8. The nature of language learning activities.
Various types of activities are previously designed to achieve an instructional goal. This chapter introduces different kinds of activities that I practically implement in my own teaching. Among many types, I think I usually use practice, memorization, comprehension activities, Moreover, I personally would like to use more of application, strategy and feedback between peers activities. The dimensions of language learning activities were quite useful to remind myself to reflect on my teaching practice. Especially, regarding a purpose of an activity, I learned several strategies and ways to connect the lesson’s goal and student’s expectation and motivation to achieve it.

Chapter 9. Language use in the classroom.
In this chapter, all kinds of language that involves in the language class were examined both from teachers’ and students’ perspectives. It was a great chance for me to organize my previous background knowledge and to reinforce what I had missed and need to focus more on. For example, as I reflect my teaching, I unconsciously tend to depend more on certain types of questions, but knowing clearly and differentiating the effectiveness of different question types would allow me to use more suitable question at appropriate timing. The taxonomy of communicative act functions was quite interesting to know that language in use could be categorized in such many different functional ways.
While reading both chapters, I tried to check what is actually happening and what strategies or language I normally use in my teaching and what better way I could implement to make more effective and motivating class. As I always thought about this Richards and Lockhart (1996) book, very detailed categorized information and suggestions were just amazing to realize that teaching and learning is a very complex and multifaceted process and so consideration and reflection should always follow to make better quality of teaching earning.


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    March 2011