The Four Components in Teaching Foreign Languages

In Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking, I. S. P. Nation and Jonathan Newton assert that a good language class has an appropriate balance of four components: input, output, language focus, and fluency development. They define each component:

“Learning through meaning-focused input; that is, learning through listening and reading where the learner’s attention is on the ideas and messages conveyed by the language.

Leaning through meaning-focused output; that is, learning through speaking and writing where the learner’s attention is on the conveying ideas and messages to another person.

Learning through deliberate attention to language items and language features; that is, learning through direct vocabulary study, through grammar exercises and explanation, through attention to the sounds and spelling of the language, through attention to discourse features, and through the deliberate learning and practice of language learning and language use strategies.

Developing fluent use of language items and features over the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing; that is, becoming fluent with what is already known.”                                                                                                                                                         Nation and Newton, 2008, p.1

Nation’s common-sense justification of this approach is “If you want to learn something, do it a lot” (Nation, 2014, p.11). How can students become good at writing if they never write? The more learners read, the better readers they will be. Practice makes perfect! Each skill has different features, so teachers have to make sure that students have opportunities to practice each feature.

In order to be effective, each component requires specific characteristics.

Input should have familiarity, interest, and context clues. Most of what students read and listen to should be already familiar to them, and it must be interesting. Context should provide clues to unknown language. New words should be no more than five percent of the reading and listening.

Similar characteristics apply to output. The topics for speaking and writing should be familiar and interesting. Students can learn to use various strategies for effective communication. Teachers should provide plenty opportunities for students to produce.

Language focus requires deliberate attention, simplicity, repetition and occurrence in other components. Students should give deliberate attention to language features. The features should be simple and not depend on background or prior knowledge that students do not have. Most importantly, there should be enough repetition, and the features should show up in the other three components.

Fluency development should have communication focus, fast performance, and meaningful repetition. The learners should focus on communicating, conveying and receiving meaning. There should be no unfamiliar language or new words. Teachers should encourage students to perform faster than usual. Meaningful repetition keeps the lessons interesting and helps the lesson stick in the students’ memories.

Teachers should make sure that they cover all components equally every week or month. However, it does not matter whether teachers implement all four components in one class or one component per class.

Even though this approach emphasizes equal time for the four components, that decision is arbitrary. It is up to the teachers to decide. Beginning students, for example, may need more time for input because they are not ready for output yet. Academic students may require reading and writing ability more than any other skills.

A basic assumption behind this approach is that it is not wise for a teacher or a course designer to ally themselves with a particular method of language teaching. It is much more productive to become aware of the important principles of teaching and learning and to apply these in ways that suit the learners, the teaching conditions and the skills of the teacher.                                                        (Nation and Newton, 2008, p.13).

The following lesson plans illustrate how one teacher implements this approach in his teaching practice.

LESSON PLANS FOR ONE WEEK

The students are high school students at Green School, an international school in Bali. All these students live in Bali, and therefore, they have significant opportunities to use Indonesian outside of school. The students for whom these lesson plans are intended have some basic Indonesian (alphabet, greetings, introduction, pronoun, and numbers), but they are still on the beginning level.

The content of these four lessons is family relationship.

Lesson 1 – Input Component

Learning Objectives/Expected Results

Students will learn new vocabulary related to family through listening and reading. At the end of this class, students should be able to identify family words and pronounce the words correctly.

Materials

Video titled “Keluarga Pak Jokowi”

Transcript of the video

Procedures / Timing

Teacher says/does Students say/do Approx. time
Greet students and explain today’s activities and learning objectives. 5 minutes
Play the video. Students watch the video 5 minutes
Talk about Pak Jokowi’s family. Answer the students’ questions. Students ask about words and sentences they do not understand. 15 minute.
Give the students the transcript and read it to them. Students listen to the teacher as they read the transcript. 5 minutes
Give students a list of new words with definitions and good sentences. Encourage students to study the new words. Students write the new words on word cards. 10minutes
Conclude the lesson and close the class. 5 minutes

 

Lesson 2: Output Component

Learning Objectives/Expected Results

Students will practice their speaking and writing skill. At the end of this class, students should be able to ask questions about family like Siapa nama Bapak Anda?, Ibu Anda dari mana? Kakak Anda tinggal di mana? They will be able to write some basic information about family like Rata adalah bapak Made. Dia tinggal di Karangasem. Dia berumur 56 tahun.

Materials

Family tree of Pak Soma, the teacher

Procedures / Timing

Teacher says/does Students say/do Approx. time
Greet students and explain today’s activities and learning objectives. 5 minutes.
Give Pak Soma’s family tree to the students. Answer the students’ questions. Students ask questions about the teacher’s family members. 15 minutes
Ask the students questions after they complete the family tree. e.g. Siapa nama Bapak Pak Soma?, Siapa nama anak Simpen? Students answer teacher’s questions 5 minutes.
Ask students to write about three or  more of Pak Soma’s family members. Show anexample. Students write about Pak Soma’s family. 15 minutes
Ask students to read their writing. Students read their writing out loud. 10 minutes.
Conclude the lesson and close the class. 5 minute.

Lesson 3: Language Focus Component

Learning Objectives/Expected Results

Students will study language features like vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. At the end of this class, students should be able to pronounce the “k”, “p:”, and “t” properly, to use prefix “ber-“ and to describe how to address people in Indonesian.

Materials

Handout

Procedures / Timing

Teacher says/does Students say/do Approx. time
Greet students and explain today’s activities and learning objectives. 5 minutes.
Pronounce some words that have letter “k”, “p”, “t”. Ask the students to practice the pronunciation. Students practice the pronunciation of words with the letter “k”, “p”, “t”. 10 minutes
Ask students to find more words that have letter “k”, “p”, “t” and pronounce words. Students find words that have letters “k”, “p”, “t”and try to pronounce them. 5 minutes
Ask the students to find prefix ber- in the previous reading materials and let them think what they mean. . Students find prefix ber- in the previous reading materials and guess what the prefix means in the words. 10 minutes
Hand the handout to students and ask them to do the exercise. Students read and ask questions about prefix ber-. They do the exercise after they understand. 15 minutes
Explain how to address people in Indonesian. Students listen to their teacher’s explanation 5 minutes.
Conclude the lesson and close the class. 5 minutes

Lesson 4: Fluency Development Component

Learning Objectives/Expected Results

Students will make a presentation on their family. At the end of this class, students should be able to talk about their family fluently.

Materials

Presentation sample

E: Procedures / Timing

Teacher says/does Students say/do Approx. time
Greet students and explain today’s activities and learning objectives. 5 minutes.
Ask the students to make a presentation about their family. Show them the presentation sample Students look at the example and make a presentation. They can use PowerPoint or Prezi. 20minutes
Ask the students to present their PowerPoint Students present their PowerPoint or Prezi presentation. 20 minutes
Give feedback on the students’ presentation 5 minutes
Conclude the lesson and close the class. 5 minutes

REFERENCES

Nation, Paul and Newton, Jonathan. 2008. Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking.

New York and London: Routledge.

Nation, Paul and Newton, Jonathan. 2008. Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing. New York

and London: Routledge.

Nation, Paul. 2014. What do you need to know to learn a foreign language? New Zealand:

Victoria University of Wallington.

U.S Department of State, Office of English Language Programs Bureau of Educational and

Cultural Affairs. 2009. Shaping the way we teach English: Approaches to language teaching: Extension: Module 8: using and adapting authentic materials.

Djenar, Dwi Novirini. 2003. Student’s Guide to Indonesian Grammar. New York: Oxford

University Press.

*This paper has been presented at KIPBIPA IX Conference and will be published in the conference proceedings. 

Download PDF file 

Leave a Reply

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: