SCOTS
CMSW

Document 500

Teaching Modern Languages: How Lessons Develop

Author(s): James McGonigal, Brian C Templeton

Copyright holder(s): University of Glasgow: re-use of Crown Copyright material

Text

The Position Paper on "Teaching Secondary English in Scotland" outlines a typical way in which English lessons develop. It might be useful to compare the similarities and differences in the teaching strategies that Modern Languages and English teachers often use. Of course, these are broad descriptions only, but they may be of interest when colleagues meet together to discuss Language teaching in general, and what the different subjects share in aims and practice. It can be read in conjunction with Position Papers 1, mentioned above, and 20, "Teaching Secondary Modern Languages in Scotland".

When planning a lesson or a series of lessons on a topic, it is common in Modern Languages to plan in terms of three broad stages:
• Presentation
• Practice
• Open-ended Communication.

Teachers also consider how the four language skills will be developed and the logical sequence in which the different language activities will be presented. As a general rule, it is advised that the activities are sequenced in the same order as young learners have acquired the language skills in their native language: Listening>Speaking>Reading>Writing. Obviously, at the early stage in a lesson or in the early lessons at the start of a topic, it is likely that the emphasis will be on the presentation and practice stages as the students become familiar with the new language of the topic, while towards the end of a lesson or series of lessons, there is likely to be more emphasis on open-ended communication.

A typical lesson at the start of a series on a particular topic would have the main emphasis on the presentation stage and might consist of some of the following activities. The teacher would attempt to locate the learning in a realistic and relevant context. The purpose of this phase is to motivate and engage the interest of the pupils, by encouraging them to identify similarities and differences in the cultural context in which the topic is situated, e.g. the school system in France. The discussion is likely to be in English at this stage and would then be developed into a more focused definition of the language objectives to be undertaken in the course of the topic.

By involving the students in identifying and discussing the language objectives necessary if they are to communicate successfully in the context of the topic, the teacher is able to highlight the language functions, vocabulary and tasks required for successful completion of the topic. Such discussion can be used to develop the students’ language awareness, by showing that:
• the language system is made up of many parts: vocabulary, grammar rules, functions, intonation patterns, social usages
• the same language function can be expressed in several different ways
• a language function or a grammar point learned in one context can be transferred and re-used in other contexts.

By the end of this brainstorming session the teacher will have identified previously learned language which can be recycled in this topic, as well as new language to be mastered, and is now in a position to present to the students a logical sequence in which to structure the learning in the foreign language.

This sequence would begin with the teacher presenting some of the new language by means of a visual stimulus such as flashcards/realia/OHP. It is important at this stage that the students are given time to listen to the new foreign language in order to match the correct sound to the corresponding visual and to become accustomed to the correct form of the pronunciation. This stage would soon merge into the practice stage, where the students begin to practise pronunciation of the new language in response to the visuals and to questions from the teacher.

After sustained practice and repetition of the new language, it is common to round off this stage by setting up a short paired speaking activity in which the students undertake with a partner a short controlled practice of the language presented and practised in the whole class format. The main purpose of this activity is to allow the teacher to assess informally and to provide feedback to the pupils as to how effective the learning and teaching has been up to this point.

Depending on the time remaining, the lesson might proceed to practise and extend the language of the topic, through a listening and/or reading activity, and the lesson might end with the copying of the new language as homework. The subsequent lesson would begin by checking how effectively this had been done and by revising quickly the previously taught material, in order to be sure of the basis on which the next lesson is building.

English and Modern Languages teachers might usefully consider the similarities and differences in their typical approaches to lesson planning. What are the correspondences between the three stages of teaching and learning in the different subjects? More importantly, which stage of a lesson offers the best opportunity for explicit teaching of techniques or terminology, and when should this be revisited or rehearsed by the learners?

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.

Close

Cite this Document

APA Style:

Teaching Modern Languages: How Lessons Develop. 2021. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved January 2021, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=500.

MLA Style:

"Teaching Modern Languages: How Lessons Develop." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2021. Web. January 2021. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=500.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Teaching Modern Languages: How Lessons Develop," accessed January 2021, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=500.

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2021. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk.

Close

Information about Document 500

Teaching Modern Languages: How Lessons Develop

Text

Text audience

Adults (18+)
Specialists
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2000
Word count 843
General description One of a series of position papers on current educational developments in relation to language education

Text medium

Book
Other CD Rom of teacher materials (LILT)

Text publication details

Part of larger text
Contained in CD Rom: LILT Materials
Editor J McGonigal / C Kay
Part of a longer series of texts
Name of series Position Papers: CD Rom: LILT Materials

Text setting

Education

Text type

Prose: nonfiction
Report

Author

Author details

Author id 78
Forenames James
Surname McGonigal
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs Catholicism
Occupation University lecturer
Place of birth Dumfries
Region of birth E & Mid Dumfries
Birthplace CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation F.E. Lecturer
Father's place of birth Cleland
Father's region of birth Lanark
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Primary School teacher
Mother's place of birth Midcalder
Mother's region of birth West Lothian
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area wLoth
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work and home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Used occasionally
Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic No No No Yes Very limited vocabulary
German Yes Yes Yes Yes Used occasionally
Scots No Yes Yes Yes Work (language study) and creative writing
Spanish; Castilian Yes Yes Yes Yes Used occasionally

Author

Author details

Author id 721
Forenames Brian
Initials C
Surname Templeton
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation University Lecturer
Place of birth Newton Stewart
Region of birth W Dumfries
Birthplace CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Baker
Father's place of birth Colmonell
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Shop Assistant
Mother's place of birth Dumfries
Mother's region of birth E & Mid Dumfries
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Dmf
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work and home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes At work and on holiday
German Yes Yes Yes Yes At work and on holiday
Scots Yes No No Yes Visiting family, relatives

Close