Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Monday, May 09, 2005

AN EFL Program Outline

[Excellent article by Krashen... happy to say it mimics our own Effortless Acquisition Curriculum]

by SD Krashen


One component of EFL needs to be orientation, a brief explanation of language acquisition theory. As noted earlier, our goal is to develop independent, or autonomous acquirers. Knowing how language is acquired will help ensure that this will occur. It is also important to tell students something about the philosophy underlying our practice because the approach outlined here is radically different from traditional approaches; we need to justify our pedagogy to students and in some cases to their parents.

Orientation can be done in the primary language fairly early in the EFL student’s language career and can be covered in more detail at advanced levels in English. S.Y. Lee (1998) included an introduction to language acquisition in an English course at the university level, with excellent results.

Stage 1: Natural Approach and Graded Readers

Aural comprehensible input will be provided, as is done in Natural Approach (Krashen and Terrell, 1983), Total Physical Response (Asher, 2000), and Total Physical Response Storytelling (Ray and Seely, 1998) methodology. Activities can include games, dance, sports and projects. The best activities are those in which students are completely absorbed, in a sense forgetting that they are using another language (for suggestions, see Brown and Palmer, 1988).

Stage 1 also includes reading: At this level, students read very easy texts, such as graded readers, language experience texts (story dictated by student to teacher, teacher writes out story), and newspapers written for EFL students. The only criterion for texts is that they be compelling. They need not provide cultural information or "make you a better person." Some reading can be done as sustained silent reading, as students become independent readers.

Level 2: Light Reading

The focus of level 2 is "light" authentic reading, that is, comics, graphic novels, and easy sections of the newspapers, with continuing reading of graded readers and books specially adapted for second language acquirers.

Class discussion includes the cultural background of some assigned readings as well as readings done in small groups (literature circles). Background readings are provided in the first language when appropriate, e.g. comparison to similar genres in the first language. Class also includes teachers reading to the class from level 2 reading material as a means of providing additional comprehensible input and stimulating interest in books.

Sustained silent reading (SSR) is provided, about ten minutes per day. Students can read anything in English they like (within reason), including graded readers and other reading material from level 1. They are not "accountable" for what they read during SSR.

Some orientation can be done at this level, in the students’ first language. This will consist of a brief introduction to language acquisition theory or "how language is acquired," illustrated by case histories of successful and unsuccessful second language acquisition.

The formal study of grammar can begin here, with a focus on aspects of grammar that are useful for editing. Instruction will also include the use of a grammar handbook and the spellcheck function of the computer.

Level 3: Popular Literature

Reading at level 3 focuses on contemporary and light popular literature, including some current best sellers, popular magazines, and viewing of "lighter" films. Class discussion focuses on current culture and how values are expressed in current popular literature, e.g. gender roles, humor, how films and novels comment on issues of the day, the role of "gossip" magazines and newspapers, etc.

SSR continues, again allowing students to select their own reading, which can include reading at "lower levels."

Grammar study at this level can expand to include some "linguistics," i.e. language universals and language change.

I predict that many students will be "autonomous" by this time, able to understand a considerable amount of input outside the classroom. Additional study of English after this level could be made optional, and/or move in other directions, that is, more specific to different professions and interests.

Level 4: Contemporary Serious Literature.

This level includes the heavier and more "serious" works of current interest published in English, as well as films, newspapers, and literary and philosophical magazines. The approach will at first be "narrow," focusing on the work of one author or genre, e.g. the works of Kurt Vonnegut, plays by Neil Simon. As before, SSR can include lighter reading. Only after students have experienced several authors or genres in depth will the "survey" be done.

This level, and the next, can be repeated several times, focusing on different authors and genres.

At this stage, language acquisition theory can be done in some detail, reading original works in English.


For the remainder of the article, see SDKrashen.com