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for teachers
Whatever happened to the 3rd P?
for learners
Input Output
P P P Free speaking
for teachers for learners
P: Presentation
the new ‘target language’ of the lesson was presented in a clear context, eg through
boardwork, or a listening, or a reading text
P: Controlled Practice
this language was practised in a ‘controlled’ way, meaning ‘one correct answer’, eg a
gapfill, or a matching exercise, or a manipulation of form
P: Less Controlled Practice
the same target language was then ‘produced’ by the students, meaning that they
spoke it or wrote it, with some flexibility of content, eg personalization
I did my ELT initial teacher training in Lisbon in 1991.
I remember well that we had to give live practice lessons of two types:
Task / Skills Practice / Discussion
a speaking or writing activity where students could use any language they wanted
for teachers for learners
Let’s look at some coursebook activities and see how well the
3rd P works.
Remember: for the 3rd P we are checking to see if students will
produce the target language for themselves.
We don’t want single correct answers (= 2nd P) and we don’t
want mini tasks where they don’t use the target language (=
free speaking).
Business Opportunities,
OUP, 1994
for teachers for learners
Here’s an early (1992) example
of the 3rd P. I think it works okay
because the conversation in #4
is very constrained. Students
have to act out a very simple
situation and it is based on a
listening they have just heard
for the second time.
Warmer
Presentation
Controlled
Practice
Less controlled
Practice
Business Opportunities,
OUP, 1994
for teachers for learners
From the same book, here the
author moves from the
presentation stage straight to a
3rd P. I think this works well.
Warmer
Presentation
Less controlled
Practice
Business Opportunities,
OUP, 1994
for teachers for learners
A final example from the same book. The
two presentation stages are okay to
quickly introduce the language for the
practice that follows. But will the
students produce the target language as
they discuss the interesting problems in
#3? I think it’s more likely they will get
interested in the content and their minds
will not have any attention left to use the
target language. It will become a series of
mini-tasks, not a 3rd P stage as the author
wishes.
Presentation
Presentation
Less controlled
Practice
Lifestyle Intermediate,
Pearson, 2010
for teachers for learners
Now three examples from a
book that I think handles the
3rd P well. Here the students
do vocabulary work in a well
designed first activity, and
then produce the language in
a 3rd P stage. I have done this
page in class and the target
language is produced – it
doesn’t turn into a free
speaking mini-task.
Presentation /
Controlled Practice
Less controlled
Practice
for teachers for learners
Some grammar from the same
book. You may think the 3rd P
stage is forced, with the form
being heavily signalled in the
instructions (What were you
doing …?). But that is the whole
point. The 3rd P is forced. The
trick is to make it fun and
personalized at the same time as
producing the language. #8 does
the job well, and #9 extends
subtly into free speaking.
Presentation
Less controlled
Practice
Controlled Practice
Lifestyle Intermediate,
Pearson, 2010
Lifestyle Intermediate,
Pearson, 2010
for teachers
Here the 3rd P is a test
in pairs. Yes, good idea.
Controlled
Practice
Less controlled
Practice
Warmer /
Presentation
Controlled
Practice
Market Leader Intermediate
3rd edition, Pearson, 2010
for teachers
Now some examples from another
well-known coursebook. I have used
this page in class. At D the students
do indeed produce the target
language along with the added
personalization. The 3rd P works well. Controlled
Practice
Less controlled
Practice
Presentation
Market Leader Intermediate
3rd edition, Pearson, 2010
for teachers
From the same book. There is a mini
role-play at D with useful phrases
(some from the listening) in a box. The
idea is that students have the phrases
available to use while they speak. But
every teacher knows that students
simply don’t produce the phrases. The
student’s brain is focussed on the
content of the role-play, listening to
their partner, formulating what they
are going to say next, etc. There is
simply no working memory left to scan
a list of functional headings in real
time, decide which function they need,
select a phrase and speak it. No way.
Controlled
Practice
Less controlled
Practice
Presentation
Controlled
Practice
Market Leader Intermediate
3rd edition, Pearson, 2010
for teachers
A more extreme example from the
same book. The listening is good, the
mini role-play is good, the useful
phrases are good. But there is no way
the students are going to use any of
the phrases at stage E. There isn’t even
a Controlled Practice stage. Stage E will
become free speaking in a mini task.
Fair enough. But you and I know that 5
minutes after the end of the lesson
every single phrase in that box will
have evaporated from the students’
minds like morning dew in the desert.
Less controlled
Practice
Presentation
Business Grammar Builder 2nd edition,
Macmillan, 2010
for teachers
And finally two examples from a self-
study grammar book that I wrote. What
you see is the final page of the unit, after
the presentation and controlled practice.
In the 1st edition of this book I didn’t
have this page, but what you see is the
2nd edition. In the example on the right I
offer some personalized practice of the
target language at #3. And again at #4,
where the students can refer to a model
earlier in the unit.
The final sentence allows a teacher
checking homework in class to extend
into a free speaking activity.
Less controlled
Practice
Less controlled
Practice
Business Grammar Builder 2nd edition,
Macmillan, 2010
for teachers
From the same book. The first
image (33.6) is from the
controlled practice part of the
unit. The image below shows
the 3rd P activity based on it.
Less controlled
Practice
Controlled
Practice
for teachers for learners
So now we’ve seen some examples of the 3rd P in coursebooks, some working well
and some less well. Our understanding of the 3rd P is different from when I first
studied it in my initial teacher training. In those days the PPP process was considered
very mechanically. People thought that PPP in one lesson somehow led automatically
to language acquisition.
These days we know the process is more complex. Yes, PPP leads to spontaneous
production, but:
a) over a long time period,
b) with lots more practice, not just one round of PPP,
c) with lots of intervening passive ‘noticing’ of language and
d) with a real-life communicative need for the language that forces it out of long
term memory.
for teachers for learners
A more recent model for language acquisition has been produced by Michael Swan,
and he calls it ‘Two Out Of Three Ain’t Enough’. He developed this model to counter
approaches that were unbalanced, eg too input-based or too task-based. He wanted
to show that a good range of activities is needed for language acquisition.
On the next slide is Michael Swan’s model, taken directly from his website with his
own terminology.
Please take a moment to study it. It deserves your attention.
A balanced programme
Extensive Intensive Analysed
Input
Books, magazines, texts, etc.
Speech (of other people)
Spoken or written texts studied in detail
Material learnt by heart
Learning rules
Looking at examples and lists
Output
Free speaking
Free writing
Controlled speaking or writing, reusing
learnt material
Doing exercises
Michael’s article that expands on these ideas is available on his website:
http://mikeswan.co.uk/elt-applied-linguistics/Two-out-of-three-aint-enough-the-essential-ingredients-of-a-language-course
It is also reprinted on my site with his permission:
www.paulemmerson.com/articles/two-out-of-three/
A balanced programme
Extensive Intensive Analysed
Input
Books, magazines, texts, etc.
Speech (of other people)
Spoken or written texts studied in detail
Material learnt by heart
Learning rules
Looking at examples and lists
Output
Free speaking
Free writing
Controlled speaking or writing, reusing
learnt material
Doing exercises
for teachers for learners
Here is my personal interpretation of how this relates to the old model.
Presentation
Controlled practice
Presentation
Less controlled practice
Noticing
Tasks / Skills Practice
for teachers for learners
So, Michael calls it Intensive Output and earlier models called it ‘the 3rd P’ or
‘less controlled practice’. As we have seen, it is still there in some places in some
coursebooks. Often it works well, other times less so.
But whatever you call it, I believe that the 3rd P is slowly disappearing. I mean
from coursebooks, from teacher training, and from classroom lessons.
Why?
And does it matter?
for teachers for learners
Why is the 3rd P disappearing?
1. It combines form and meaning, and this is hard on our brains.
The first two Ps feel like learning. They go well in the lesson. Note that they are almost
entirely form based.
Tasks and discussions and case studies and role-plays are fun. They also go well in the
lesson. Note that they are almost entirely meaning based.
But the 3rd P has a problem. It combines form and meaning, and this is hard for our
brains. Students have to
a) remember to keep some attention on the target language just presented to them
on the page
b) keep some attention on the context/activity where they are going to use it
c) combine these two to produce the language in a meaningful way, along with
producing some additional co-language to make complete sentences.
The students make a brave attempt, but are hesitant and lose confidence. It doesn’t go
well in the lesson. The teacher avoids it next time.
for teachers for learners
Why is the 3rd P disappearing?
2. I blame Task Based Learning.
This is how the TBL argument goes: the artificial and mechanical sequence of PPP is a
failure - students don’t produce language that has just been presented. Instead, we should
create a communicative need for the language, and students will then find it (by asking the
teacher or retrieval from memory) and use it.
I think this argument misunderstands the process by which learning takes place. Of course
the target language is not produced in the same lesson, but so what? It takes time for it to
transfer from working memory to long term memory, and every exposure to it helps. To
learn anything we need lots of practice of all kinds.
And the meaningful, authentic contexts that TBL favour are not important for input. To
develop automaticity and fluency of any skill we need repeated mechanical practice. Think
of Jimi Hendrix’s fluency. It was based on hours of un-meaningful repetition of riffs and
sequences and chord changes in his bedroom in his youth. All high level skills are acquired
through mechanical revisiting of sub-skills: playing an instrument, driving a car, etc.
for teachers for learners
Why is the 3rd P disappearing?
3. It’s difficult to implement in a coursebook.
For the author:
It’s quite difficult to successfully create a 3rd P exercise.
The activity has to be constrained – otherwise it turns into a mini task with free
speaking and no use of the target language. Then it has to be engaging and
personalized.
For the publisher:
It’s often difficult to find space on the page. There is not much room left after a
warmer, presentation and controlled practice.
Lists of ‘useful phrases’ associated with a mini-task are there for ‘face validity’ (i.e. this
language has to go somewhere and it looks relevant on this page). But in fact no-one
really expects it to be noticed with attention or produced.
for teachers for learners
And now, does the 3rd P matter?
I believe it does for an obvious old reason and a surprising new reason.
The old reason is clear from Michael Swan’s model. Without the 3rd P students have a tougher
job producing new language in free speech. They have to make a big leap from very controlled
production (2nd P) to free, spontaneous speech. A whole type of practice is missing on the way.
The new reason is to do with blended learning.
The web-based side of the blend is appropriate for presentation and controlled practice.
The classroom side of the blend is appropriate for free speaking and its associated personalized
language feedback. But the classroom is also an ideal chance to do some less controlled
practice. As a classroom teacher you can add real value to a blended course by providing fun,
heads-up, personalized 3rd P language practice.
for teachers for learners
On a positive note, here are some 3rd P activities that you may already do:
Brainstorming previously taught language to the board before a task
Writing functional expressions on pieces of paper and getting students to lay them on the table
and speak them during a mini-task
Repeating any mini-task (perhaps with new roles), with the explicit instruction:
Let’s do exactly the same task again, but this time I want you to speak more slowly and use more
complex language. I’m not so interested in the content this time. Take a moment to look through
your book before we start, and think about some new language you would like to speak.
Writing a few sentences using the target language, and then reading them aloud to the class.
Writing, by its nature, allows more attentional resources to be available for thinking about and
re-using language. One suggestion is for students to write short sections of dialogue, perhaps as
a reformulation and development of what was said during one part of a speaking activity.
for teachers for learners
I’m going to walk you through three ‘less controlled practice’ activities that
you can use in class tomorrow morning. One each for functions, vocabulary
and grammar. The aim is to use the target language in a restricted context
but to have space for imagination and creativity as well.
Please remember that in every case I am assuming that the students have
already been through presentation and controlled practice exercises,
probably in a previous lesson.
Now let’s have some fun
with the third P!
for teachers for learners
Activity 1. Functional expressions - active listening in Social English
a) Teacher – Students
Write up on the board:
1. Echo back a key word or phrase.
2. Show interest: Really! Great! Sounds amazing! Poor you!
3. Ask a Wh- follow-up question.
As a model, the teacher says a short sentence or two about what s/he did recently.
A student has to respond by saying each of 1-3 in sequence:
I went to see the new Bond movie last night.
The new Bond movie? Really? What was it like?
T
S
for teachers for learners
b) Student – Student. Open pairs (across the class) of the same activity.
c) Student – Student. Closed pairs. Write up on the board, under the previous
boardwork:
A: Where did you go for your last vacation?
1-3 1-3 1-3
B: What about you? Where did you go?
1-3 1-3 1-3
Explain that they should do the same thing again, but this time A asks about B’s last
vacation, and then goes round 1-3 a few more times so that B talks more. B finishes
with ‘What about you?’. And it automatically reverses roles.
They end up having a short conversation with lots of active listening.
2. Vocabulary practice – talking about your job
a) Teacher – Students
The teacher writes the following sentence heads and mind map framework on the board:
I guess there are three or four main areas in my job.
My day-to-day responsibilities include …
I have a lot of contact with …
I spend a lot of my time doing/having/writing/going to …
What I really like about my job is …
But sometimes I find it difficult to …
As a model, the teacher adds to the mind map some words and phrases about themselves
(real, authentic). Then the teacher uses the sentence heads and completed mind map to
briefly describe their job. The students will be listening attentively and ‘noticing’.
for teachers for learners
for teachers for learners
b) Students working individually
Each student draws the same mind map and completes it for themselves. Teacher
circulates and feeds in words and phrases as needed.
c) Student – Student in closed pairs.
Each student takes their turn to describe their job to another student, using the mind
map. This works well in pairs or threes. Phrases for the student who is listening:
Right / Okay / mm-mm / uh-uh
That’s interesting / Really?
Can you tell me a little more about that?
What issues are there? / What challenges do you have?
for teachers for learners
3. Grammar practice – past tenses
On the next slide is a table you can use. Feel free to copy and paste into a
document, show the sentences on an interactive whiteboard, or write
them on the board before the lesson begins.
After the next slide I have shown how I personally use the activity. You
will be able to use the table of sentences in your own way.
for teachers for learners
Giving news Telling a story
I’ve just seen Anna from Accounts! I saw Anna from Accounts the other day. She
came into Starbucks while I was chatting to Sue.
I’ve just bought a new car. I bought a new car last week. I crashed the old
one while I was driving and texting at the same
time.
I’ve just seen Brad Pitt walking past outside the
classroom! I’m really sure it was him!
I had a great time in New York. One evening we
saw Brad Pitt walking along the street.
Please come into my office. I have some good
news for you. I’ve decided to give you a pay rise.
I was thinking about leaving the company. But
then my boss decided to give me a pay rise.
I’ve looked everywhere. I can’t find my USB stick
with my presentation on it!
I was at the Trade Fair and it was the morning of
my talk. I lost the USB stick with my presentation
on it! I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find it.
for teachers for learners
3. Grammar practice – past tenses
a) Teacher – Students
The teacher refers to the first row – the sentences about Anna. And says something
like this as an introduction:
We studied how we use the present perfect to give news. Time phrases include ‘just’, ‘already’.
We also looked at tenses for telling a story. We use the past simple, and the past continuous.
Time phrases for the past simple include ‘last week’, ‘the other day’, ‘in my previous job’, etc. Time
phrase for the past continuous include ‘while’.
Now I’m going to speak the two sentences about Anna. First I’m going to give you some news and
then I’m going to start a story. Before I say the sentence I will name a student to respond. Please
respond naturally, without too much thought.
T
for teachers for learners
Then do that, saying each item in turn in a natural way. Accept every response. Here are
some typical responses that you can feed in as examples if the students are stuck:
I’ve just seen Anna from Accounts! I saw Anna from Accounts the other day. She came
into Starbucks while I was chatting to Sue.
Did she say anything about my expenses? Really? What did Sue say when she saw Anna?
or or
Anna? I thought she moved to head office. Is she coming to the Christmas party?
Then say, as your big 3rd P revision/teaching point:
I’m going to do it again, for the next few rows. I want you to notice where your minds are. When I give
news your minds are in the present – the result of seeing Anna, the new car. But when I tell a story,
your minds are in the past, about what happened next, more details of the story, etc.
T
S
T
S
T
for teachers for learners
b) Students – Students
Now ask pairs to work through the table. Just as you did.
It’s important that an individual student says both the item on the left and the right
on the same row, so that they can feel the difference.
The point of the activity is to establish a very strong relationship in
the student’s minds between the present perfect for giving news
and the past simple for telling a story. The contrast shows this well.
The activity is an example of playful, personalized less controlled
practice of something that students often get ‘right’ in a head-
down grammar book but can’t produce freely.
for teachers for learners
1. Remember those key phrases that disappear like the morning dew? Lists of phrases are a
problem right through BE. Here are some 3rd P ideas for revising functional phrases:
http://www.paulemmerson.com/slideshows/10-activities-for-revising-key-phrases/
2. And here’s an idea from my colleague Fiona who works with me at The English Language
Centre in Brighton. She saw this slideshow then went away and combined the first and third
activities into a game. She uses it for A2/B1 Asian students who have difficulty in managing
conversational discourse.
She made sets of small laminated cards with funny ‘giving news’ lines and ‘telling story’ lines.
Like: ‘I’ve just got married to Donald Trump’ and ‘I got married to Donald Trump but it didn’t
work out’. She hands a set of these cards to each pair of students and they do the activity as
before, one student reading the line and the other responding 1-3. Then a few pairs perform for
the class, and finally they discuss ‘active listening’ as a topic, other strategies, etc.
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Whatever happened to the 3rd P?

  • 1. for teachers Whatever happened to the 3rd P? for learners Input Output P P P Free speaking
  • 2. for teachers for learners P: Presentation the new ‘target language’ of the lesson was presented in a clear context, eg through boardwork, or a listening, or a reading text P: Controlled Practice this language was practised in a ‘controlled’ way, meaning ‘one correct answer’, eg a gapfill, or a matching exercise, or a manipulation of form P: Less Controlled Practice the same target language was then ‘produced’ by the students, meaning that they spoke it or wrote it, with some flexibility of content, eg personalization I did my ELT initial teacher training in Lisbon in 1991. I remember well that we had to give live practice lessons of two types: Task / Skills Practice / Discussion a speaking or writing activity where students could use any language they wanted
  • 3. for teachers for learners Let’s look at some coursebook activities and see how well the 3rd P works. Remember: for the 3rd P we are checking to see if students will produce the target language for themselves. We don’t want single correct answers (= 2nd P) and we don’t want mini tasks where they don’t use the target language (= free speaking).
  • 4. Business Opportunities, OUP, 1994 for teachers for learners Here’s an early (1992) example of the 3rd P. I think it works okay because the conversation in #4 is very constrained. Students have to act out a very simple situation and it is based on a listening they have just heard for the second time. Warmer Presentation Controlled Practice Less controlled Practice
  • 5. Business Opportunities, OUP, 1994 for teachers for learners From the same book, here the author moves from the presentation stage straight to a 3rd P. I think this works well. Warmer Presentation Less controlled Practice
  • 6. Business Opportunities, OUP, 1994 for teachers for learners A final example from the same book. The two presentation stages are okay to quickly introduce the language for the practice that follows. But will the students produce the target language as they discuss the interesting problems in #3? I think it’s more likely they will get interested in the content and their minds will not have any attention left to use the target language. It will become a series of mini-tasks, not a 3rd P stage as the author wishes. Presentation Presentation Less controlled Practice
  • 7. Lifestyle Intermediate, Pearson, 2010 for teachers for learners Now three examples from a book that I think handles the 3rd P well. Here the students do vocabulary work in a well designed first activity, and then produce the language in a 3rd P stage. I have done this page in class and the target language is produced – it doesn’t turn into a free speaking mini-task. Presentation / Controlled Practice Less controlled Practice
  • 8. for teachers for learners Some grammar from the same book. You may think the 3rd P stage is forced, with the form being heavily signalled in the instructions (What were you doing …?). But that is the whole point. The 3rd P is forced. The trick is to make it fun and personalized at the same time as producing the language. #8 does the job well, and #9 extends subtly into free speaking. Presentation Less controlled Practice Controlled Practice Lifestyle Intermediate, Pearson, 2010
  • 9. Lifestyle Intermediate, Pearson, 2010 for teachers Here the 3rd P is a test in pairs. Yes, good idea. Controlled Practice Less controlled Practice Warmer / Presentation Controlled Practice
  • 10. Market Leader Intermediate 3rd edition, Pearson, 2010 for teachers Now some examples from another well-known coursebook. I have used this page in class. At D the students do indeed produce the target language along with the added personalization. The 3rd P works well. Controlled Practice Less controlled Practice Presentation
  • 11. Market Leader Intermediate 3rd edition, Pearson, 2010 for teachers From the same book. There is a mini role-play at D with useful phrases (some from the listening) in a box. The idea is that students have the phrases available to use while they speak. But every teacher knows that students simply don’t produce the phrases. The student’s brain is focussed on the content of the role-play, listening to their partner, formulating what they are going to say next, etc. There is simply no working memory left to scan a list of functional headings in real time, decide which function they need, select a phrase and speak it. No way. Controlled Practice Less controlled Practice Presentation Controlled Practice
  • 12. Market Leader Intermediate 3rd edition, Pearson, 2010 for teachers A more extreme example from the same book. The listening is good, the mini role-play is good, the useful phrases are good. But there is no way the students are going to use any of the phrases at stage E. There isn’t even a Controlled Practice stage. Stage E will become free speaking in a mini task. Fair enough. But you and I know that 5 minutes after the end of the lesson every single phrase in that box will have evaporated from the students’ minds like morning dew in the desert. Less controlled Practice Presentation
  • 13. Business Grammar Builder 2nd edition, Macmillan, 2010 for teachers And finally two examples from a self- study grammar book that I wrote. What you see is the final page of the unit, after the presentation and controlled practice. In the 1st edition of this book I didn’t have this page, but what you see is the 2nd edition. In the example on the right I offer some personalized practice of the target language at #3. And again at #4, where the students can refer to a model earlier in the unit. The final sentence allows a teacher checking homework in class to extend into a free speaking activity. Less controlled Practice Less controlled Practice
  • 14. Business Grammar Builder 2nd edition, Macmillan, 2010 for teachers From the same book. The first image (33.6) is from the controlled practice part of the unit. The image below shows the 3rd P activity based on it. Less controlled Practice Controlled Practice
  • 15. for teachers for learners So now we’ve seen some examples of the 3rd P in coursebooks, some working well and some less well. Our understanding of the 3rd P is different from when I first studied it in my initial teacher training. In those days the PPP process was considered very mechanically. People thought that PPP in one lesson somehow led automatically to language acquisition. These days we know the process is more complex. Yes, PPP leads to spontaneous production, but: a) over a long time period, b) with lots more practice, not just one round of PPP, c) with lots of intervening passive ‘noticing’ of language and d) with a real-life communicative need for the language that forces it out of long term memory.
  • 16. for teachers for learners A more recent model for language acquisition has been produced by Michael Swan, and he calls it ‘Two Out Of Three Ain’t Enough’. He developed this model to counter approaches that were unbalanced, eg too input-based or too task-based. He wanted to show that a good range of activities is needed for language acquisition. On the next slide is Michael Swan’s model, taken directly from his website with his own terminology. Please take a moment to study it. It deserves your attention.
  • 17. A balanced programme Extensive Intensive Analysed Input Books, magazines, texts, etc. Speech (of other people) Spoken or written texts studied in detail Material learnt by heart Learning rules Looking at examples and lists Output Free speaking Free writing Controlled speaking or writing, reusing learnt material Doing exercises Michael’s article that expands on these ideas is available on his website: http://mikeswan.co.uk/elt-applied-linguistics/Two-out-of-three-aint-enough-the-essential-ingredients-of-a-language-course It is also reprinted on my site with his permission: www.paulemmerson.com/articles/two-out-of-three/
  • 18. A balanced programme Extensive Intensive Analysed Input Books, magazines, texts, etc. Speech (of other people) Spoken or written texts studied in detail Material learnt by heart Learning rules Looking at examples and lists Output Free speaking Free writing Controlled speaking or writing, reusing learnt material Doing exercises for teachers for learners Here is my personal interpretation of how this relates to the old model. Presentation Controlled practice Presentation Less controlled practice Noticing Tasks / Skills Practice
  • 19. for teachers for learners So, Michael calls it Intensive Output and earlier models called it ‘the 3rd P’ or ‘less controlled practice’. As we have seen, it is still there in some places in some coursebooks. Often it works well, other times less so. But whatever you call it, I believe that the 3rd P is slowly disappearing. I mean from coursebooks, from teacher training, and from classroom lessons. Why? And does it matter?
  • 20. for teachers for learners Why is the 3rd P disappearing? 1. It combines form and meaning, and this is hard on our brains. The first two Ps feel like learning. They go well in the lesson. Note that they are almost entirely form based. Tasks and discussions and case studies and role-plays are fun. They also go well in the lesson. Note that they are almost entirely meaning based. But the 3rd P has a problem. It combines form and meaning, and this is hard for our brains. Students have to a) remember to keep some attention on the target language just presented to them on the page b) keep some attention on the context/activity where they are going to use it c) combine these two to produce the language in a meaningful way, along with producing some additional co-language to make complete sentences. The students make a brave attempt, but are hesitant and lose confidence. It doesn’t go well in the lesson. The teacher avoids it next time.
  • 21. for teachers for learners Why is the 3rd P disappearing? 2. I blame Task Based Learning. This is how the TBL argument goes: the artificial and mechanical sequence of PPP is a failure - students don’t produce language that has just been presented. Instead, we should create a communicative need for the language, and students will then find it (by asking the teacher or retrieval from memory) and use it. I think this argument misunderstands the process by which learning takes place. Of course the target language is not produced in the same lesson, but so what? It takes time for it to transfer from working memory to long term memory, and every exposure to it helps. To learn anything we need lots of practice of all kinds. And the meaningful, authentic contexts that TBL favour are not important for input. To develop automaticity and fluency of any skill we need repeated mechanical practice. Think of Jimi Hendrix’s fluency. It was based on hours of un-meaningful repetition of riffs and sequences and chord changes in his bedroom in his youth. All high level skills are acquired through mechanical revisiting of sub-skills: playing an instrument, driving a car, etc.
  • 22. for teachers for learners Why is the 3rd P disappearing? 3. It’s difficult to implement in a coursebook. For the author: It’s quite difficult to successfully create a 3rd P exercise. The activity has to be constrained – otherwise it turns into a mini task with free speaking and no use of the target language. Then it has to be engaging and personalized. For the publisher: It’s often difficult to find space on the page. There is not much room left after a warmer, presentation and controlled practice. Lists of ‘useful phrases’ associated with a mini-task are there for ‘face validity’ (i.e. this language has to go somewhere and it looks relevant on this page). But in fact no-one really expects it to be noticed with attention or produced.
  • 23. for teachers for learners And now, does the 3rd P matter? I believe it does for an obvious old reason and a surprising new reason. The old reason is clear from Michael Swan’s model. Without the 3rd P students have a tougher job producing new language in free speech. They have to make a big leap from very controlled production (2nd P) to free, spontaneous speech. A whole type of practice is missing on the way. The new reason is to do with blended learning. The web-based side of the blend is appropriate for presentation and controlled practice. The classroom side of the blend is appropriate for free speaking and its associated personalized language feedback. But the classroom is also an ideal chance to do some less controlled practice. As a classroom teacher you can add real value to a blended course by providing fun, heads-up, personalized 3rd P language practice.
  • 24. for teachers for learners On a positive note, here are some 3rd P activities that you may already do: Brainstorming previously taught language to the board before a task Writing functional expressions on pieces of paper and getting students to lay them on the table and speak them during a mini-task Repeating any mini-task (perhaps with new roles), with the explicit instruction: Let’s do exactly the same task again, but this time I want you to speak more slowly and use more complex language. I’m not so interested in the content this time. Take a moment to look through your book before we start, and think about some new language you would like to speak. Writing a few sentences using the target language, and then reading them aloud to the class. Writing, by its nature, allows more attentional resources to be available for thinking about and re-using language. One suggestion is for students to write short sections of dialogue, perhaps as a reformulation and development of what was said during one part of a speaking activity.
  • 25. for teachers for learners I’m going to walk you through three ‘less controlled practice’ activities that you can use in class tomorrow morning. One each for functions, vocabulary and grammar. The aim is to use the target language in a restricted context but to have space for imagination and creativity as well. Please remember that in every case I am assuming that the students have already been through presentation and controlled practice exercises, probably in a previous lesson. Now let’s have some fun with the third P!
  • 26. for teachers for learners Activity 1. Functional expressions - active listening in Social English a) Teacher – Students Write up on the board: 1. Echo back a key word or phrase. 2. Show interest: Really! Great! Sounds amazing! Poor you! 3. Ask a Wh- follow-up question. As a model, the teacher says a short sentence or two about what s/he did recently. A student has to respond by saying each of 1-3 in sequence: I went to see the new Bond movie last night. The new Bond movie? Really? What was it like? T S
  • 27. for teachers for learners b) Student – Student. Open pairs (across the class) of the same activity. c) Student – Student. Closed pairs. Write up on the board, under the previous boardwork: A: Where did you go for your last vacation? 1-3 1-3 1-3 B: What about you? Where did you go? 1-3 1-3 1-3 Explain that they should do the same thing again, but this time A asks about B’s last vacation, and then goes round 1-3 a few more times so that B talks more. B finishes with ‘What about you?’. And it automatically reverses roles. They end up having a short conversation with lots of active listening.
  • 28. 2. Vocabulary practice – talking about your job a) Teacher – Students The teacher writes the following sentence heads and mind map framework on the board: I guess there are three or four main areas in my job. My day-to-day responsibilities include … I have a lot of contact with … I spend a lot of my time doing/having/writing/going to … What I really like about my job is … But sometimes I find it difficult to … As a model, the teacher adds to the mind map some words and phrases about themselves (real, authentic). Then the teacher uses the sentence heads and completed mind map to briefly describe their job. The students will be listening attentively and ‘noticing’. for teachers for learners
  • 29. for teachers for learners b) Students working individually Each student draws the same mind map and completes it for themselves. Teacher circulates and feeds in words and phrases as needed. c) Student – Student in closed pairs. Each student takes their turn to describe their job to another student, using the mind map. This works well in pairs or threes. Phrases for the student who is listening: Right / Okay / mm-mm / uh-uh That’s interesting / Really? Can you tell me a little more about that? What issues are there? / What challenges do you have?
  • 30. for teachers for learners 3. Grammar practice – past tenses On the next slide is a table you can use. Feel free to copy and paste into a document, show the sentences on an interactive whiteboard, or write them on the board before the lesson begins. After the next slide I have shown how I personally use the activity. You will be able to use the table of sentences in your own way.
  • 31. for teachers for learners Giving news Telling a story I’ve just seen Anna from Accounts! I saw Anna from Accounts the other day. She came into Starbucks while I was chatting to Sue. I’ve just bought a new car. I bought a new car last week. I crashed the old one while I was driving and texting at the same time. I’ve just seen Brad Pitt walking past outside the classroom! I’m really sure it was him! I had a great time in New York. One evening we saw Brad Pitt walking along the street. Please come into my office. I have some good news for you. I’ve decided to give you a pay rise. I was thinking about leaving the company. But then my boss decided to give me a pay rise. I’ve looked everywhere. I can’t find my USB stick with my presentation on it! I was at the Trade Fair and it was the morning of my talk. I lost the USB stick with my presentation on it! I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find it.
  • 32. for teachers for learners 3. Grammar practice – past tenses a) Teacher – Students The teacher refers to the first row – the sentences about Anna. And says something like this as an introduction: We studied how we use the present perfect to give news. Time phrases include ‘just’, ‘already’. We also looked at tenses for telling a story. We use the past simple, and the past continuous. Time phrases for the past simple include ‘last week’, ‘the other day’, ‘in my previous job’, etc. Time phrase for the past continuous include ‘while’. Now I’m going to speak the two sentences about Anna. First I’m going to give you some news and then I’m going to start a story. Before I say the sentence I will name a student to respond. Please respond naturally, without too much thought. T
  • 33. for teachers for learners Then do that, saying each item in turn in a natural way. Accept every response. Here are some typical responses that you can feed in as examples if the students are stuck: I’ve just seen Anna from Accounts! I saw Anna from Accounts the other day. She came into Starbucks while I was chatting to Sue. Did she say anything about my expenses? Really? What did Sue say when she saw Anna? or or Anna? I thought she moved to head office. Is she coming to the Christmas party? Then say, as your big 3rd P revision/teaching point: I’m going to do it again, for the next few rows. I want you to notice where your minds are. When I give news your minds are in the present – the result of seeing Anna, the new car. But when I tell a story, your minds are in the past, about what happened next, more details of the story, etc. T S T S T
  • 34. for teachers for learners b) Students – Students Now ask pairs to work through the table. Just as you did. It’s important that an individual student says both the item on the left and the right on the same row, so that they can feel the difference. The point of the activity is to establish a very strong relationship in the student’s minds between the present perfect for giving news and the past simple for telling a story. The contrast shows this well. The activity is an example of playful, personalized less controlled practice of something that students often get ‘right’ in a head- down grammar book but can’t produce freely.
  • 35. for teachers for learners 1. Remember those key phrases that disappear like the morning dew? Lists of phrases are a problem right through BE. Here are some 3rd P ideas for revising functional phrases: http://www.paulemmerson.com/slideshows/10-activities-for-revising-key-phrases/ 2. And here’s an idea from my colleague Fiona who works with me at The English Language Centre in Brighton. She saw this slideshow then went away and combined the first and third activities into a game. She uses it for A2/B1 Asian students who have difficulty in managing conversational discourse. She made sets of small laminated cards with funny ‘giving news’ lines and ‘telling story’ lines. Like: ‘I’ve just got married to Donald Trump’ and ‘I got married to Donald Trump but it didn’t work out’. She hands a set of these cards to each pair of students and they do the activity as before, one student reading the line and the other responding 1-3. Then a few pairs perform for the class, and finally they discuss ‘active listening’ as a topic, other strategies, etc. More classroom ideas