Article: Unpackaging the past: 'CLT' through ELTJ keywords, by Duncan Hunter and Richard Smith.
Moderator: Alan Waters, Lancaster University
The discussion will take place in the Research SIG's Yahoo!Group, which is open to members and non-members of the SIG alike.
Link to article: http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/content/66/4/430.full
Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh33hQEiRjo&feature=youtu.be
Abstract: "ELT history is often viewed as a succession of methods, but such a view tends to rest on a ‘packaging up’ and labelling of complex and often contested past developments. This process ignores both continuity with earlier developments and diversity of contemporary opinion and often seems to serve as a way to clear the ground for self-proclaimed ‘progress’. This article describes a study that was undertaken to promote an alternative view of the past. Taking as a starting point the way communicative language teaching (CLT) seems to be currently in the process of being packaged up in readiness for the ‘dustbin of history’, the study combined corpus-based and qualitative procedures to explore keywords in ELTJ articles during the early communicative period. By identifying themes discussed by contemporary writers themselves, we highlight areas of continuity with ‘pre-communicative’ methodology, and diversity within the communicative discussion itself, thus subverting the assumption that there was ever a wholly distinct, unitary, or ‘classical’ CLT to be lightly superseded."
Alan Waters, who will moderate the discussion of this article, was, until his retirement in 2012, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, England. He has taught EFL in Sierra Leone, Kuwait, and the UK, and trained teachers in Thailand, the UK, Hong Kong, and several other parts of the world. He has published a number of books and articles on a range of ELT topics. His main ELT interests are language teaching methodology and materials, teacher learning, and managing innovation.
To help you get ready for the discussion, here are some possible questions, suggested by Alan, apart from ones you might have of your own:
Q. 1. Days 1 – 2.
In the ‘Introduction’ section of the paper (pp. 430-432), do you feel the characterization of the treatment of methods in books such as Larsen-Freeman and Richards and Rodgers is accurate? And if so, do you also agree that this treatment is problematic?
Q. 2. Days 4 - 5.
What do you think of the research procedures described from p. 432 to the top of p. 434? Would you have modified the research approach in any way? If so, how?
Q. 3. Days 7 - 8
In the section on ‘The big picture: 1981–1986 versus 1958–1973 keywords’ (pp. 434-5), what do you feel about the nature of the data presented? Do you agree with the authors’ analysis of them?
Q. 4. Days 10 - 11
In the section on ‘ Uncovering complexity: qualitative analysis of keywords in context’ (pp. 435-8), what do you see as the authors’ main claims here? What do you think of them, especially in relation to the overall argument (i.e., the distorted nature of the conventional picture of methods)?
Q. 5. Day 12 - 13
What do you think the implications of the ‘Conclusion’ section (pp. 438-9) might be for i) further research and/or ii) teacher education?