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Lexical Phrases in Syllabus and Materials Design

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Lexical Phrases in Syllabus and Materials Design

Lexical Phrases in Syllabus and Materials

    Design

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    ;DaveWillis,UniversityofBirmingham,Engiand

    ;Oneoftheproblemsofsyllabusdesignisdecidingwhat ;theunitsofasyllabusshouldbe.Traditionallyunitshavebeen ;seenintermsofclausesandsentences.Weteachstudentsto ;produceandunderstandpatternsentencesillustratingverb ;tenses,conditionals,theuseofthearticles,andsoon.Ba? ;sically,weteachsentenceframesandstudentsthenmanipulate ;thoseframesinparticularwaystoachieveparticularmeanings. ;Sinclair(1991)drawsattentiontotwoprinciplesoflanguage ;organization.rnIefirstprinciple.whichSinclaircallstheopen ;choiceprinciple,relatestothemodeloflanguageIhavejust ;described.Itisbasedonthebeliefthatwemanipulatesen? ;tenceframes:

    ;Itisoftencalleda”slotandfiller”model,

    ;envisaging

    ;textsa8aseriesofslotswhichhavetobefilledfromalexicon ;whichsatisfieslocalconstraints.Ateachslotvirtuallyanyword ;canoccur.Sincelanguageisbelievedtooperatesimultaneously ;onseverallevels,thereisaverycomplexpatternofchoicesin ;progressatanyonemoment,buttheunderlyingprincipleis ;simpleenough.

    ;Sinclair,however,challengesthisviewofgrammarby ;drawingattentiontowhathecallstheidiomprinciple: ;rnIeprincipleofidiomisthatalanguageuserhasavail? ;abletohimorheralargenumberofsemi?preconstructed ;phrasesthatconstitutesinglechoices,eventhougheymight ;appeartobeanalysableintosegments.

    ;ItisnotdifficulttoidentifythekindofitemSinclairhasin ;mind.Sinclairhimselfcitesasanexamplethe”simultaneous

    ;choice”ofthetwowordsofcourse.

    ;whichhesaysisnowthe

    ;equivalentofasinglelexicaliteminthesamewayassingle ;wordswhichstartedlifeastwoseparateitems--maybe,any? ;way,another,cupboard.Hethengoesontolistse?

    ;mi?preconstructedphrasesofdifferentkinds.Somephrases

    ;allow80melexicalvariation:insomecases;insomein. ;stances.Somearefixedlexicallybutallowlexicalsyntactic ;variation:itisnotinhisnatureto…;itwashardlyinher

    ;natureto....Groupsofthiskindarevariouslyreferredtoin ;theliteratureaslexicalphrases,multi?wordunits,fixed ;phrases,formulaicphrases,chunks,preassembledchunks, ;_r___一一

    ;prefabricatedunits,holophrases,andsoon.1willreferto ;themaslexicalphrases.

    ;ThisviewisreinforcedbyWiddowson(1989).Widdow. ;sonarguesthataknowledgeoflexicalphrasesoridiomsis ;centraltothecommunicativecompetenceofanylanguageuser: ;...communicativecompetenceisnotamatterofknowingrules ;forthecompositionofsentences.Itismuchmoreamatterof ;knowingastockofpartiallypre?assembledpatterns,formulaic ;frameworks,andakitofrules,sotospeak,andbeingableto ;applytherulestomakewhateveradjustmentsarenecessary ;accordingtocontextualdemands.Communicativecompetence ;inthisviewisessentiallyamatterofadaptation,andrulesare ;notgenerativebutregulativeandsubservient.

    ;Hereagaintheimplicationisthatthegrammarofidiomis ;dominantandthatthegrammarofopenchoiceoperatessimply ;

    ;tomakewhateveradiustmentsarenecessary.”

    ;AlthoughthisviewwasputbyBolinger(1975)over ;twentyyearsago,andhasbeenrestatedatintervals(Pawley& ;Syder,1983;Sinclair,1991,etc.),ithasnotuptonow ;beeninfluentialinEFLsyllabusandmaterialsdesign.Upto ;nowdescriptionsoflanguagehaverestedalmostexclusivelyon ;theopenchoiceprinciple.Itisnotsurprising,therefore,that ;mostviewsoflanguageacquisitionandmostpedagogicproce? ;duresalealsobasedonthisprinciple.Languagelearningis ;largelyviewedasaproblem?solvingenterprise,indeed,itis ;oftendescribedasaprocessofhypothesisformationandrevi? ;sion.Theprincipleswhichliebehindopenchoicepresentthe ;learnerwithachallenge--apuzzle.Theprocessoflearninga ;languageinvolves,morethananythingelse,findingananswer ;tothispuzzle.Aslearnersreceivemoreinputtheygradually ;revisetheirmodelofthelanguagesothatitconformstothe ;systemofruleswhichgovemtheselectionofitemsandthe ;waysinwhichthoseitemsmaybecombinedtoproducegram- ;maticalsentences.Butifwerelegatethegl-alnmarofopen ;choicetoasecondaryplaceintheschemeofthingsandaccept ;thattextislargelyformedbytheapplicationoftheidiom

    ;principlethisentailsareviewofmanyofthetheoriesonwhich ;ourpedagogicproceduresalebased,andthereforeentailsa ;

    ;reviewofthoseDmcedures.Weneedtotakeaccountnotonly ;oftheopenchoiceprinciple,butalsooftheidiomprinciple, ;weneedtoconcernourselvesnotonlywitllsentencepatterns. ;butalsowithunitslikelexicalphrases.

    ;Lexicalphrasesofaparticulartypeareparticularlycom

    ;lnoninacademicdiscourse.If,forexample.youarereading ;medicalresearcharticlesandpreparingtoteachyourstudents ;toreadthesearticles,youmaywellbestruckbythefrequency ;ofthephraseinpatientswith.Thisphraseisveryfrequent ;indeed.Itisoftenfollowedbyamedicalcomplaint: ;Inpatientswithse-pticaemia…

    ;orbyasymptom:

    ;Inpatientswithhighbloodpressure....

    ;rI‟llephraseisusedvery.verycommonlytoidentifyone

    ;particulargroupofpatientsasopposedtoothers. ;Youwillalsobestruckbythefrequencyofphrasesinthe ;passivewhichareusedtoreportworkbyotherresearchers.In ;partlcular,youmaynoticethefrequentuseofthepresent ;perfectpassive

    ;I‟hasbeenshownthal…

    ;...hovebeenshownto....

    ;Whereastheverbisactive,youmaynoticethatthesub? ;jectoftheverbisnot,asyoumightreasonablyhaveexpected, ;aperson,butastudy,data,orevidence:

    ;PreliminarydatafrOmourstudysuggestthat...

    ;Thereisevidencetosuggestthat...

    ;AlmostcertainlyyouwiUbestruckbythenumberof ;complexnounphrasesinthesearticles.Ifyoulookatnoun ;phrasesfeaturingtheprepositionof,youwillfindthatseveral ;ofthemaretodowithcauseandeffect:

    ;...theeffectofsteroidsupplementationinthisclinical ;sifuallon...

    ;Manyothersfeatureanounformedfromaverb:

    ;...thereleaseofcorlicotropin...

    ;...analysisofcorlisollevels…

    ;…treatmentofIong-termsmokers…

    ;Yetothersinvolveanounwhichmeans”occurrence?and

    ;whichmaybemarkedtoshowwhetherthatoccurrenceisoris ;notfrequent:

    ;occurrence

    ;prevalence

;...thepresenceof...

    ;absence

    ;incidence

    ;ortoshowwhetherthatoccurrenceisorisnotlikely: ;0ossibUi~

    ;F

    ;...theprobobilityof

    ;chance

    ;likelihood

    ;Itseems,therefore,thatagooddealofthecomplexityof ;thiskindofmedicaldiscourseliesnotinsentencestructure. ;butinthecomplexphrasesthatmakeupthesentence.Itseems ;alsothatmanyofthesephrasesarerecurrentandpredictable. ;Thissuggestsverystronglythatweshouldlookvery ;carefullyatrecurrentphrases,oratwhatSinclaircalls”the

    ;idiomprinciple.”rI‟llemorewecallpredictaboutthestructure

    ;andpatternsofoccurrenceofphraseslikethis,themorewe ;willbeabletoprepareourstudentstodealwitlIthem.Itisnot ;difficulttodoasIhavedonehereandgiveaquickindication ;oftheimportance,indeedthecentralityofthesephrasesin ;certainformsofacademicdiscourse.Butifwetakeaccountof ;Widdowson‟swordswewit[recognizethatphrasesarearIim-

    ;pertantpartnotonlyofhighlyspecializedtexts,butofbasic ;communicativecompetence.Wedonotinourdailyspoken ;discourseproducestringsofcomplexnounphrases,butwedo ;dependonprefabricatedphrasesofallkinds.Ifyoulookata ;stretchofspokendiscourse,itisnotdifficnlttoidentifysuch ;phrases(yousee;youknowwhatImean;sortof;asamatter ;offact,etc.).Andjusta8wecallmakeoutastrongcasefor ;theinclusionoflexicalphrasesinspecialiseddiscourse,itis ;notdifficulttotakeoutasimilarcasefortheinclusionofsuch ;phrasesingeneralEnglishprogrammes.Itistimetotakeac? ;countinourteachingnotonlyoftheprincipleofchoice,but ;alsooftheprincipleofidiom.

    ;References

    ;1Bolinger,D.Aspecuoflanguage(2ndEdition)M.

    ;NewYork:HarcourtBraceJovanovich,1975.

    ;2Pawley,A.,&Syder,F.Twopuzzlesforlinguistictheory ;A.InJ.Richards&R.Smith(Eds.).Languageand ;3Sinclair.J.M.Corpus,concordance,collocation[M]. ;Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress,1991.

    ;4Widdowson,H.G.Knowledgeoflanguageandabilityfor ;use[J].AppliedLinguistics,1989,10:128137.

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