Learning Theory – Behaviourism – English Language Teaching – CELTA

Learning Theory – Behaviourism – English Language Teaching – CELTA

 

In language learning, and one’s own experience via RSA Cambridge Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) now Cambridge English Teaching to Adults CELTA, is a communicative approach, based mostly on behaviourism, very much stimulus and response.

(Image copyright Pexels)

 English Teaching Model

 

There should be a clear process whether grammar/language structure, new vocabulary, function etc. hence the cyclical PPPP model, Preview, Present, Practice and Produce.

 

An example could be functional language of ‘shopping’ e.g. convenience store:

 

  • Preview via image of shopping, elicit vocabulary, grammar and dialogue (including shopping list) from learners.
  • Present via audio or AV recording, reinforce key structures or phrases, correct pronunciation etc. via concept check questions of random learners. If concept not understood start again.
  • Practice or drill dialogue, e.g. model between instructor and learners, then learners practice dialogue in pairs (with monitoring).  If not correct do again.
  • Production via role play where random students act out situation several times with different partners without assistance, monitored and followed by correction if needed (eliciting correct answer from leaners).
  • Review, if unable to ‘produce’ well, go back and do again.

 

  1. First stimulus comes from the instructor and atmosphere they create for learners to learn in a positive and interactive environment.
  2. Second, stimulus for Preview and Presentation above learners to understand and become interested and motivated in providing a response.
  3. Thirdly when learners do activity with each other and not instructed centred they use stimuli of questions or requests and the other with respond; vice versa.

 

At each phase there should be an observable outcome, especially at the end when all should ‘produce’ the structure well, in this case higher degree of fluency and confidence.

Behaviourism like above is good because it’s active learning, practical, reinforcing, controllable and clear in outcomes.

The negative could be when wanting higher level outcomes e.g. not skills of regurgitation or rote learning but analysis, reflection etc.; learners can be assessed further in written evaluation of their learning through reflection etc.

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