Replicating features of natural discourse in the preparation of dialogues for B1 learners

Philip, Gill (2003) Replicating features of natural discourse in the preparation of dialogues for B1 learners. [Preprint]
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There is a considerable difference between the linguistic content of listening exercises and that of natural, spontaneous speech. The discrepancies that exist stem from the pedagogical practice of 'cleaning up' language for classroom use - i.e. ridding it of distracting noise, repetition, irrelevancies, and so on - and also from an unwillingness to expose learners to unfamiliar lexis and grammatical structures ahead of their treatment within the syllabus. Although such an approach is effective in teaching specific language items, it does not prepare learners for the natural discourse that hey will encounter outside the classroom or self-access centre. Natural, spontaneous speech is often too difficult for B1 students to understand, not simply because of its speed and lexicogrammatical content, but also, and more importantly, because of the presence of linguistic noise (repetitions and corrections, pauses, unfinished sentences), and implicit knowledge, i.e. that which is not stated rather than that which is. This paper will critique extracts of listening exercises from existing textbooks, demonstrating some of the problems with listening materials in general. This will be followed by a brief exposition of the salient features of natural discourse, as demonstrated through the analysis of spoken corpus data. The author's proposed compromise between the extremes of cleaned-up classroom language and the messiness of natural speech, will be presented in the form of some dialogues created for the ALTAIR project at the University of Bologna.

Document type
Philip, Gill
EFL; naturalness; spoken language; teaching materials
Deposit date
12 Sep 2005
Last modified
16 May 2011 11:42

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