Guided Discovery for Language Instruction


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Guided Discovery for Language Instruction

  1. 1. ENGLISH Common Guided Discovery for Language Instruction: A Framework for Implementation at all Levels Vicky SaumellM aria Victoria Saumell holds a degree in Literary and Technical Translation and a Diploma, with Distinction, in the Theoryand Methodology of TESOL. She is co-author of “Preparation for theTeaching Knowledge Test (TKT),” a module of the online multimediateacher-training program, Teacher Development Interactive. Inaddition, she is author of Meeting Point, a teacher’s guide to digitaltools, as well as author of, and tutor for, New Learning Environments,an online teacher-training course for the Masters in ELT program atUniversidad de la Sabana in Colombia. Ms. Saumell has taught Englishin private schools for the past twenty years and is currently OverallCoordinator of the EFL department at Instituto Francisco de Asis inBuenos Aires, Argentina. She is a frequent presenter at professionaldevelopment conferences and is an expert on the integration of ICTfor language learning.N ew language can be introduced in different ways, and there has been a long standing debate on how to do itbest. Most approaches fall within the deductive / inductiveclassification. Guided Discovery takes the best from bothin a way that makes it work for a variety of settings andcontexts, and as a tool to introduce different aspects oflanguage at all levels. The purpose of this article is toprovide theoretical background and a practical 4-stepframework for implementation of Guided Discovery.
  2. 2. Clarifying concepts: Guided DiscoveryDeductive vs. Inductive In between these two approaches liesDeductive and inductive approaches derive from “People are generally “Guided Discovery”,deductive and inductive reasoning. Deductive better persuaded by which combinesreasoning applies a general rule to particular the reasons which the best from each.instances as opposed to inductive reasoning, they have themselves Guided Discovery iswhich involves inference from the particular to the discovered than by a modified inductivegeneral. Thus, language learning is deductive when those which have approach in whichteachers explicitly present the rule, which come in to the mind of there is exposure tois later applied by students in practice tasks. language first, followed others.” Blaise PascalIn inductive language learning, however, the rules by the use of inference,are worked out from exposure to the language and finally an explicitin use. In other words, deductive indicates explicit focus on rules and practice. There are cognitive,presentation of rules, while inductive relates to linguistic, and social benefits to this approach.implicit learning of rules. Both approaches have Here are some of them:advantages and disadvantages and stand as opposingextremes in a language instruction continuum. Here Cognitive benefitsare a few concepts associated with these. encourages analytic learning. It exploits learners’ cognitive skills. ItDeductive Inductive It improves critical thinking skills.General to particular Particular to general It involves students in problem-solving tasks.Explicit Implicit helps learners become aware of and articulate ItRules first Exposure to language first their mental processes.Rule-driven learning Rule-discovery learning Learners participate actively in the learning process.Cognitive Associative Learners understand and remember betterConscious Subconscious what they have worked out for themselves.Application of rules Problem-solving Linguistic benefitsTeacher-centered Learner-centered resembles natural language learning/ language ItDependent on the teacher Autonomous acquisition.Passive reception Active participation done in groups, it provides extra language If practice. Social benefitsSome of the disadvantages of a deductive approach increases student participation and fosters Itare that it can be too controlled and is associated collaboration.with a teacher-fronted, transmission-style empowers learners thus enhancing autonomy Itclassroom. It may also put off analytical learners and self-reliance.who enjoy being involved in the process. is motivating for learners who enjoy the It hands-on approach.Some drawbacks of an inductive approach arethat it is time-consuming and energy-consuming, Guided Discovery addresses some of the drawbacksand it may lead to misunderstanding of the rule associated with both deductive and inductiveor reaching a wrong conclusion. It demands instruction as it is essentially learner-centered. Themore lesson planning as well as carefully and teacher becomes a facilitator, who guides learners insystematically designed data and materials. It may the right direction so as to avoid misunderstandings ofalso be frustrating for learners with a less analytical the rules. It makes learning memorable since learnerslearning style. are actively involved in the process. It is meaningful because it involves the learners` own reasoning.
  3. 3. What can be taught with This first step allows learners to activate their personal learning strategies in order to understand the language.Guided Discovery techniques? For example, a lesson for beginners focusing on the use of the articles a vs. an might approach Step 1 likeAlthough guided discovery is generally associated this. Learners are shown a list of occupations like thewith grammatical rules, it really lends itself to a ones below and are invited to match the occupationsvariety of concepts and aspects of language ranging with their pictures. At this point the teacher mightfrom grammatical form and usage to pronunciation, simply call learners’ attention to the fact thatspelling and lexis. It is, however, important to make there are two different articles (a and an) whichsure that the rules we present fulfill the following introduce each occupation.guidelines, as outlined by Michael Swan (cited inThornbury, 1999, p. 32)1. The rules should be true; a nurse an assistant an artist an electrician2. he rules should show clearly what limits are on T a dentist a student the use of a given form; an engineer a journalist3. The rules need to be clear; a teacher a lawyer4. The rules ought to be simple; an architect5. he rules need to make use of concepts already T familiar to the learners; and6. The rules ought to be relevant. Step 2: Observation and analysis of the language through guided questionsAn easy step by step The teacher guides the observation and analysis ofmethodological framework the language by drawing attention to the significant points he or she wants to present. This can beGuided Discovery can be easily implemented with done through questions, by completing gaps inany class, at any level, by following these four steps. sentences or rules or by matching examples and rules. Learners’ cognitive potential is put into playStep 1: Exposure to language through examples as they cooperate, analyze, hypothesize, compare,or illustrations and construct and generate knowledge. TakingThe teacher exposes students to the language part in the learning process empowers them.through illustrations, examples or a combination This scaffolding step is essential to avoid learnersof both. The examples can be in the form of reaching a wrong conclusion or misunderstandingisolated sentences, although it is always more the rule.effective if the language is presented in context. In the example mentioned above, the teacherContextualization of the language makes grammar might ask beginning students to think about whatrelevant and alive and can be done through a is different about the occupations following a fromreading or listening text, illustrations or photos, or those following an. Learners could be invited toreal life situations and topics. Context also helps to rewrite the words in two separate lists under onefacilitate understanding. column for a and another column for an. A further step could be to ask learners to circle the first letter of each occupation and to think about what“Guided discovery really lends itself the occupation words have in common withinto a variety of concepts and aspects of each column.language ranging from grammaticalform and usage to pronunciation,spelling and lexis.”
  4. 4. Step 3: Statement of the rule To apply the newly learned rules in free practice, learners could engage in natural communicationThe teacher uses the information from step 2 to activities like this one.state, or gets the learners to state, the rule inorder to make sure that all learners understand it.Learners construct their new knowledge based on Group work: uess other students` jobs. Use Gtheir own insights from their observations in the a dictionary.previous step. Ex: Are you a taxi driver?For example, after having analyzed the occupations No, I`m not a taxi driver.using a and an, learners can be asked to completethe rules as follows: Look at the jobs in Ex 1. Complete the rules with a or Applying Guided Discovery in higher levels an. Different learning styles can also be activated by applying Guided Discovery to a variety of language 1. se U before vowel sounds, such as texts ranging from captioned illustrations to reading /a/,/e/, and /i/. texts to listening activities. In addition, as learners She`s artist. advance in level, they might be asked to observe language in more substantial contexts. At the 2. se U before consonant sounds, such intermediate level, a lesson on the uses of future tenses as /b/,/d/, and /f/. might engage learners in the following listening activity. She`s lawyer. Learners first observe the structures in context, but focus on what they are hearing.Step 4: Application of the rule in practice tasks Listen to the Miller and Costa families talkgraded by difficulty or complexity about their plans for a home exchange. Circle the correct alternatives.This step aims at putting the language in practice.The teacher assigns tasks from more controlled 1. `ll / `re going to see the old churches and We(matching, filling the blanks, close-ended questions) historic more communicative and meaningful (open-ended questions for discussion, role-playing, writing 2. David and I love Brazilian food, so we will / aretasks, etc). The difficulty and complexity of the going to try all the local dishes like churrascotasks is usually graded from receptive to productive and feijoada.skills, that is, from identifying or understanding toproducing. 3. really hope this `ll be / is being the vacation of a I lifetime for us.For example, learners who have just come up withthe rules governing the use of a and an could then 4. will spend / are Weapply the rules in a controlled practice activity such spending more than a month in Toronto. We`veas this one. never been there before.Write a or an 5. sure you`ll love / `re loving it. I`m1. aunt 4. country2. uncle 5. answer 6. And I `m going to / `m doing do lots of shopping.3. number 6. famiy 7. h, there are some wonderful shopping areas in O Toronto. I`ll give / am giving you the address of a
  5. 5. For Steps 2 and 3, learners then analyze the correct Referencesanswers for the activity and try to construct therules. This could be achieved through an activity like Al-Kharrat, M. (2000). Deductive Inductivethis one. Lessons for Saudi EFL Freshmen Students, The Internet TESL Journal, 6/10Match sentences 1-7 in previous exercise Chan, P. (2010). Empowering Students to Self-learn,to the rules (a-d) below. Use the present ELT World Online: Voices from the Classroom, 2continuous, be going to or will to talk aboutfuture plans. Gollin, J. (1998). Deductive vs. Inductive language learning, ELT Journal, 52/1, 88-89 a.Use be going to to talk about Handoyo Puji Widodo (2006). Approaches and something you’ve decided to do. Plans procedures for teaching grammar, English Teaching: can be general. Practice and Critique, 5/1, 122-141 b.Use will for a decision made at the Thornbury, S. (1999). How to Teach Grammar. time of speaking, or an offer. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited c.Use the present continuous to talk about arrangements (plans that you have already organized, and for which you have arranged the dates). d.Use either will be or going to for predictions.Step 4 then would proceed with both controlled andfree opportunities to apply the newly learned rules.SummaryGuided Discovery is aligned with more modernlanguage learning theories that advocate studentparticipation and the development of criticalthinking skills and autonomy. It relates to analyticlearning and problem solving. It helps learnersengage in the learning process and thus makepersonal connections that anchor their learning.It is a learner-centered approach that increasesparticipation and fosters collaboration. It empowerslearners towards assuming responsibility for theirown learning and becoming more autonomous. Itis therefore a valid and useful way of approachinglanguage instruction at all levels of language ability.