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.
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
> 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 BA PGCE (TEFL) FRSA
Training Development Director
Lydbury English Centre Ltd
The Old Vicarage
Shropshire SY7 8AU
Tel: (0)1588 681 000 / 001 / 002
Fax: (0)1588 681 018
Mobile: 07785 274 270