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Tenses

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  • Bruno Leys
    It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon in EFL to mystify the importance of the tenses. I m a teacher trainer in Bruges, Belgium and I can only notice that a
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1 12:16 AM
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      It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon in EFL to mystify the importance
      of the tenses.
      I'm a teacher trainer in Bruges, Belgium and I can only notice that a
      vast majority of students graduating from secondary schools in Belgium
      still makes mistakes on the "to do + infinitive" structure in simple
      tenses (negative/questions). The present simple tense is the first
      tense covered in coursebooks and still students don't seem to manage
      to master that tense.

      What exactly is the matter? These are probably only a few of the answers:
      - Too much grammar practice is detached from any form of context, so
      that there is no transfer between mastery of the forms in isolation
      and actual usage.
      - Corpus linguistics reveals that over 80% of all verb tense usage in
      both written and spoken texts is either in the present simple or past
      simple. (Dellar in 'The Language Teacher' 2004) Too many teachers seem
      to concentrate on all possible tense forms and provide students with a
      battery of mixed tenses exercises instead of making sure that they get
      it right in more than 80% of the cases. The percentage of usage in
      both spoken and written English in the present perfect continuous is
      less than 1%, still you can hardly find a coursebook that doesn't
      spend a lot of effort on mastery of the tense.
      - Tenses (like e.g. the past continuous) are too often treated in one
      coursebook unit only. What pupils miss is repeated exposure to the
      most common grammatical patterns of the language; a kind of "spiral
      approach".

      The ideas from the Lexical Approach, probably the last pre-dogme
      innovation in EFL that really mattered, still stand today.
      Hand students fixed and semi-fixed expressions, items and chunks of
      common, reusable language that they hear, see, read and get
      opportunities to use frequently.

      Bruno, Belgium


      --
      Bruno Leys
      docent Engels en vakdidactiek Engels
      KHBO - departement lerarenopleiding - BASO
      tel.: 0477/856706

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    • Rita Baker
      Over the course of my career which started in 1966, I have increasingly found that the main problem with language learning is that, to use a phrase of Scott s,
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 1 2:51 AM
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        Over the course of my career which started in 1966, I have increasingly
        found that the main problem with language learning is that, to use a
        phrase of Scott's, it is largely presented in 'de-constructed' chunks -
        my chief issue with course books. Tenses in English comprise a SYSTEM.
        If you know how to manipulate the system, it doesn't matter what the
        frequency of use of individual tenses happens to be. For the last 20
        years I have been developing the 'Global Approach' which starts with the
        'big picture' before addressing the details - a complete departure from
        conventional approaches. I have been a 'dogme' teacher for years -
        although I couldn't have given it a name. It has been so reaffirming be
        able to identify with like-minded thinkers. Thanks, fellow dogmetists.
        As I don't want to abuse this forum by appearing to advertise I would be
        very happy to provide material on the Global Approach to anybody who
        would like to contact me directly.

        Rita

        Bruno Leys wrote, On 01/04/2009 08:16:
        >
        > It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon in EFL to mystify the importance
        > of the tenses.
        > I'm a teacher trainer in Bruges, Belgium and I can only notice that a
        > vast majority of students graduating from secondary schools in Belgium
        > still makes mistakes on the "to do + infinitive" structure in simple
        > tenses (negative/questions ). The present simple tense is the first
        > tense covered in coursebooks and still students don't seem to manage
        > to master that tense.
        >
        > What exactly is the matter? These are probably only a few of the answers:
        > - Too much grammar practice is detached from any form of context, so
        > that there is no transfer between mastery of the forms in isolation
        > and actual usage.
        > - Corpus linguistics reveals that over 80% of all verb tense usage in
        > both written and spoken texts is either in the present simple or past
        > simple. (Dellar in 'The Language Teacher' 2004) Too many teachers seem
        > to concentrate on all possible tense forms and provide students with a
        > battery of mixed tenses exercises instead of making sure that they get
        > it right in more than 80% of the cases. The percentage of usage in
        > both spoken and written English in the present perfect continuous is
        > less than 1%, still you can hardly find a coursebook that doesn't
        > spend a lot of effort on mastery of the tense.
        > - Tenses (like e.g. the past continuous) are too often treated in one
        > coursebook unit only. What pupils miss is repeated exposure to the
        > most common grammatical patterns of the language; a kind of "spiral
        > approach".
        >
        > The ideas from the Lexical Approach, probably the last pre-dogme
        > innovation in EFL that really mattered, still stand today.
        > Hand students fixed and semi-fixed expressions, items and chunks of
        > common, reusable language that they hear, see, read and get
        > opportunities to use frequently.
        >
        > Bruno, Belgium
        >
        > --
        > Bruno Leys
        > docent Engels en vakdidactiek Engels
        > KHBO - departement lerarenopleiding - BASO
        > tel.: 0477/856706
        >
        > ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
        > This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
        >
        >

        --
        Rita Baker BA PGCE (TEFL) FRSA
        Training Development Director
        Lydbury English Centre Ltd
        The Old Vicarage
        Lydbury North
        Shropshire SY7 8AU

        Email:rita.baker@...
        http://www.lydbury.co.uk

        Tel: (0)1588 681 000 / 001 / 002
        Fax: (0)1588 681 018
        Mobile: 07785 274 270
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