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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Post-Method paper


A.    Background
1.      Definition of Method
It is important to explain about method first before we have further discussion on post-method. A clear distinction between these two concepts will help us to build a better understanding. Citing the original Greek word, methodos, which “includes the idea of a series of steps leading towards a conceived goal”, the Encyclopedia defines method simply as “a planned way of doing something. (Kumaradivelu, 2008: 162). Terminologically, method is a single set of theoretical principles derived from feeder disciplines and a single set of classroom procedures directed at classroom teachers.
There are commonly 15 types of methods taught for language teachers and then used in the classroom practice in various parts of the world such as Audiolingual method, Communicative Language Teaching, Community Language Learning, Competency-Based Language Teaching, Direct Method, Natural Approach, Grammar Translation Method, Oral Situational Language Teaching, Lexical Approach, Silent Way, Suggestopedia, Task-Based Language Teaching, Total physical response, and more. Each of these methods has a specified set of theoretical principles and a specified set of classroom practices.
Thus, each method provides different pathways of language teaching and learning. Unfortunately, those sets of principles exactly is too inadequate and to limited to satisfactorily explain the complexity of language teaching and learning. A detail explanation of this statement will be clearly described in the following subtopic.

2.      Limitation of Method
As stated above, methods have some limitations that make it cannot adequately explain the complexity of language teaching and learning. Furthermore, Kumaravadivelu provides some facts to argue that none of the established methods can be realized in their purest form in the actual classroom. It is because those methods are not derived from their classroom but are artificially transplanted into it. Here are the facts that are revealed several research findings:
§  Teachers who claim to follow a particular method do not conform to its theoretical principles and classroom procedures at all;
§   Teachers who claim to follow different methods often use the same classroom procedures;
§  Teachers who claim to follow the same method often use different procedures,
§  Teachers develop and follow in their classroom a carefully crafted sequence of activities not necessarily associated with any particular method.
Based on these facts, we can say that teachers seem to be convinced that no single theory of learning and no single method of teaching will help them confront the challenges of everyday teaching. They use their own intuitive ability and experiential knowledge to decide what works and what does not work. There is thus a significant variance between what theorists advocate and what teachers do in their classroom.
Furthermore, Brown listed several reasons why  said the whole concept of separate method is no longer a central issue in language teaching practice as follows:
1)      Methods are too prescriptive, assuming too much about a context before the context has even been identified. They are therefore overgeneralized in their potential application to practical situations.
2)      Generally, methods are quite distinctive at the early, beginning the stages of a language course and rather indistinguishable from each other at later stages.
3)      The effectiveness of a method commonly tested by scientific quantification. However, something as artful and intuitive as language pedagogy cannot ever be so clearly verified by empirical validation.
4)      Methods usually referred to the creation of powerful “center,” and become vehicles of a “linguistic” imperialism.
These limitations of methods, then, are the main reason of the existence of post-method condition.

B.     Post-Method Condition
Post-method is defined to the construction of classroom procedures and principles by the teacher himself/herself based on his/her prior and experiential knowledge and/or certain strategies. In other words, post-method involves practitioners constructing “classroom-oriented” theories of practice.
Kumaravadivelu explains that post-method pedagogy can be visualized by its three pedagogic parameters: particularity, practicality, and possibility.
Ø  The parameter of particularity. It refers to particularity and sensitivity of any post-method pedagogy to particular group of teachers teaching a particular group of learners, pursuing a particular set of goals within a particular institutional context embedded in a particular sociocultural mileu.
Ø  The parameter of practicality. Specifically it refers to teacher’s skill in monitoring his or her own teaching effectiveness.
Ø  The parameter of possibility. It means that the experiences participants bring to the pedagogical setting are shaped, not just by what they experience in the classroom, but also by a broader social, economic, and political environment in which they grow up. Thus, post-method pedagogy should consider all of those things.
All those principles manifest themselves in what Kumaravadivelu said as pedagogic indicators. They refer to those functions and features that are considered to reflect the role played by key participants in the L2 learning and teaching operations governing postmethod pedagogy.
Ø  Post-method learners. Postmethod pedagogy allows learners a role in pedagogic decision making by treating them as active and autonomous players.
Ø  The post-method teacher. The postmethod teacher is considered to be an autonomous teacher. Teacher autonomy is so central that it can be seen as defining the heart of postmethod pedagogy. It also promotes the ability of teachers to know how to develop a reflective approach to their own teaching, how to analyze and evaluate their own teaching acts, how to initiate change in their classroom, and how to monitor the effects of such changes.
Ø  The post-method teacher educator. The task of the postmethod teacher educator is to create conditions for prospective teachers to acquire necessary authority and autonomy that will enable them to reflect on and shape their own pedagogic experiences, and in certain cases transform such experiences.

C.    Post-Method Pedagogy
There are some of the attempts that have recently been made to lay the foundation for the construction of pedagogies that can be considered postmethod in the orientation. In order to do that, Kumaravadivelu considers only those proposals that (a) make a clear and consequential break with the concept of method, (b) provide a coherent and comprehensive framework to the extent allowed by the current state of knowledge, and (c) offer a welldefined and well-explained set of ideas that may guide important aspects of L2 classroom activity. He recognizes that these requirements lack precise definitions, and that any choice based on them will remain subjective.
With those conditions and caveats in mind, Kumaravadivelu choose to highlight three postmethod frameworks: (a) Stern’s three-dimensional framework, (b) Allwright’s Exploratory Practice framework, and (c) Kumaravadivelu’s macrostrategic framework. In choosing these three, he is not suggesting that they exemplify all, or even most, of the parameters and indicators of postmethod pedagogy. In fact, it should be noted that the parameters and indicators are his personal views of what should constitute the fundamentals of a postmethod pedagogy. Neither Stern’s nor Allwright’s framework takes them as points of departure, although the essence  of some of the parameters and indicators are implicit in their work.

a)   The three dimensional framework
The three-dimensional framework for language teaching may be considered the first attempt to come out with a coherent and wide-ranging plan for constructing a postmethod pedagogy. It was proposed by Stern who was founder and former head of the Modern Language Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada, from 1968 to 1981 and was Professor Emeritus at the same Institute from 1981 to 1987. It does not favor the application of restricted ends of the continuum in its principles. It suggests that one should find a middle path in the application of the following principles.
Stern’s strategy concept comprises teaching strategies and learning strategies that are based on three dimensions: (a) the L1–L2 connection, concerning the use or nonuse of the first language in learning the second; (b) the code-communication dilemma, concerning the structure–message relationship; and (c) the explicit–implicit option, concerning the basic approach to language learning. Thus, each dimension consists of two strategies plotted at two ends of a continuum.
Ø  The Intralingual–Crosslingual Dimension
The terms intralingual and intracultural refer to those techniques that remain within the target language (L2) and target culture (C2) as the frame of reference for teaching. Crosslingual and crosscultural pertain to techniques that use features of the native language (L1) and native culture (C1) for comparison purposes.
Intra-lingual strategy involves keeping the two language systems completely separate from each other, cross-lingual strategy suggests that L2 is acquired and known through the use of first language. In other words, this principle does not bring any restrictions regarding the use of native language in the classroom unlike many conventional methods such as Grammar Translation Method, Direct Method and Communicative Methods and encourages teachers to make a decision about the degree of using the native language according to the level and needs of the learners. It is suggested that cross-linguistic techniques are appropriate at the initial stages of language learning whereas intra-lingual techniques are appropriate in advanced stages. As Stern (1992) puts forward, “L1-L2 connection is an indisputable fact of life” (Stern, 1992, p. 282) since the use of L1 in certain periods results in a lesson where questions can be asked, meanings can be verified, uncertainties can be made clear and prevented and explanations can be given which would not be possible and accessible to the learner in L2. As the following box shows, the presence or the absence of translation as a technique marks the criterial feature of interlingual and crosslingual strategies.


Ø  The Analytic-Experiential Dimension

The analytic strategy involves explicit focus on forms of language such as grammar, vocabulary, notions and functions with emphasis on accuracy; experiential strategy is messageoriented and involves interaction in communicative contexts with emphasis on fluency (Kumaravadivelu, 2006). Furthermore, analytic strategy “abstracts, decontextualizes, and isolates language phenomena or skill aspects for scrutiny, diagnosis, and practice” (Stern, 1992, p. 310) through mechanical drills. Experiential strategy; on the other hand, emphasizes meaningful activities such as projects, games, problem-solving tasks, writing a report, discussion and giving a talk. Stern (1992) puts forward that one type of strategy cannot be effective without the other type. Therefore, both types of strategies are complementary to each other and carry utmost importance for language learners. The lesson plan used in this paper includes both analytic and experiential techniques. Consider the following contrastive terms collected by Stern (only a partial list is given here):


Ø  Explicit–Implicit Dimension

Stern (1992) argues that language can be taught both explicitly through conscious learning and implicitly through subconscious acquisition. Unlike what conventional methods dictate, this dimension does not strongly impose one end of the dimension and disregard the other end. Decision on the degree of using explicit and implicit strategies depend on the language topic, the course objectives, the characteristics of the students, the needs, students’ age, maturity, and previous experience (Stern, 1992). While some forms of language are of an appropriate complexity to be presented and taught explicitly, other forms are not easy to be introduced explicitly as “language can be much too complex to be fully described” (Stern, 1992, p. 339). The explicit-implicit dimension can be explained from the table below:

b)   The exploratory practice framework
The Exploratory Practice framework has been evolving for nearly a decade now. Its principal author is Allwright, who retired as a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language at the University of Lancaster in Britain in the year 2003, after having served there for many years.
Allwright has been exploring alternatives to method. His answer: Exploratory Practice (EP). Although the EP framework has had, as he puts it, an “academic” origin, it has gradually become a practitioner project shaped largely by teachers and learners. He traces the origin of the framework to a brief Epilogue in Focus on the Language Classroom, a 1991 book he coauthored with Bailey. The Epilogue forms part of the final chapter, titled “Towards Exploratory Teaching.” In it, he explains the term exploratory teaching as “teaching that not only tries out new ideas” but also one that further explores tried and trusted ideas in order “to learn as much as possible from doing so” (p. 196). In other words, exploratory teaching “is a mater of trying to find out what makes the tried and trusted ideas successful. Because in the long run it is not enough to know that ideas do work; we need also to know why and how they work” (p. 196).
Ø  The Principle of Exploratory Practice
Exploratory Practice is premised upon a philosophy that is stated in three fundamental tenets: (a) the quality of life in the language classroom is much more important than instructional efficiency; (b) ensuring our understanding of the quality of classroom life is far more essential than developing ever “improved” teaching techniques; and (c) understanding such a quality of life is a social, not an asocial matter, that is, all practitioners can expect to gain from this mutual process of working for understanding. Consistent with these philosophical tenets, Allwright presents the following “principles description” of EP in what he calls “one convoluted sentence”:
Exploratory Practice involves:
1. practitioners (e.g.: preferably teachers and learners together) working to understand:
(a) what they want to understand, following their own agendas;
(b) not necessarily in order to bring about change;
(c) not primarily by changing;
(d) but by using normal pedagogic practices as investigative tools, so that working for understanding is part of the teaching and learning, not extra to it;
(e) in a way that does not lead to “burn-out,” but that is indefinitely sustainable;
2. in order to contribute to:
(f) teaching and learning themselves;
(g) professional development, both individual and collective.
From this one overarching sentence, seven general principles have been derived. They are:
Principle 1: Put “quality of life” first.
Principle 2: Work primarily to understand language classroom life.
Principle 3: Involve everybody.
Principle 4: Work to bring people together.
Principle 5: Work also for mutual development.
Principle 6: Integrate the work for understanding into classroom practice.
Principle 7: Make the work a continuous enterprise.
Ø  The Practice of Exploratory Practice
The Practices of Exploratory Practice are aimed at helping teachers (and potentially learners too) to investigate the areas of learning and teaching they wish to explore by using familiar classroom activities as the investigative tools. The use of classroom activities themselves as investigative tools is what differentiates, in a significant way, the practice of EP from the notion of Action Research, which uses standard academic research techniques aimed at solving practical classroom problems.
According to Allwright and Lenzuen (1997) and Allwright (2000), the EP practice involves a series of basic steps,as such:
·         Step 1: Identifying a puzzle. It involves finding something puzzling in a teaching and learning situation. The word puzzle is preferred to problem because of the negative connotation associated with the latter.
·         Step 2: Reflecting upon the puzzle. It involves thinking about the puzzle in order understand it without actually taking any direct action. For example, if there is a problem of large classes, it may be beneficial to treat diversity as resource rather than think of eliminating it by taking any direct action.
·         Step 3: Monitoring. It involves paying special attention, if necessary, to the phenomenon that is puzzling the teacher, in order to understand it better.
·         Step 4: Taking direct action to generate data. It involves generating additional data, if needed, by using classroom activities such as group work, not standard academic data-collection techniques.
·         Step 5: Considering the outcomes reached so far, and deciding what to do next. It involves determining whether there is sufficient justification to move on, or whether a further period of reflection and more data are needed.
·         Step 6: Moving on. It involves, provided adequate understanding has already been reached, deciding to choose from several options, such as discussing with students, or adjusting expectations, or protesting about the state of affairs, or actually doing something to alleviate the situation, or taking a critical pedagogic stance and moving toward transforming the educational system.
·         Step 7: Going public. It involves, if adequate understanding of the puzzle is reached, and if found an improved “quality of classroom life” to go public and share the benefit with others, or to get feedback from others.
Ø  The Global and the Local
An important concern Allwright seems to be wrestling with is the exact connection between the principles and the practices of EP. He sees the need for global principles for general guidance, but their implications need to be worked out for local everyday practice. He sees a cyclical connection between the two, as represented in what he calls a “crude loop diagram”:


c)    The macrostrategy framework
Ø  Macrostrategies
A macro-strategy is a general plan, a broad guideline based on which teachers can conduct their situation-specific lessons. They are put into practice through micro-strategies. In addition, “practicing and prospective teachers need a framework that can enable them to develop the knowledge, skill, attitude, and autonomy necessary to devise for themselves a systematic, coherent, and relevant personal theory of practice” (Kumaravadivelu, 2003a, p. 40). There are 10 kinds of macrostrategies:
1)      Maximize learning opportunities. This principle emphasizes teaching as a process of creating and using learning opportunities. For example, when a student asks a meaning of a particular word, the teacher does not immediately answer it but asks other students to volunteer.
2)      Minimize perceptual mismatches. This principle involves recognizing perceptual mismatches between teacher intention and learner interpretation or vice versa.
3)      Facilitate negotiated interaction. This principle encourages giving learners the chance to initiate conversations as well as reacting and responding.
4)      Promote learner autonomy. This principle indicates the importance of helping students to learn how to learn.
5)      Foster language awareness. This principle emphasizes drawing learners’ attention to the formal aspects of L2 to promote learning.
6)      Activate intuitive heuristics. This principle highlights the importance of providing learners with rich textual data and allowing them to infer the underlying rules through self-discovery.
7)      Contextualize linguistic input. This principle involves the integration of syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and discourse aspects of language (Kumaravadivelu, 2003a).
8)      Integrate language skills: Kumaravadivelu (2003a) argues that though some textbooks are said to combine reading and writing as one unit and listening and speaking as another, this seems to be impossible as learners actually integrate various language skills not restrictively the ones indicated.
9)      Raise cultural consciousness: This principle emphasizes creating awareness and empathy towards L2 culture by giving students the opportunity to make comparisons between their culture and the target culture and to develop critical cultural consciousness.
10)  Ensure social relevance: This principle involves the need for teachers to be sensitive to the social, political, economic and educational environment where the L2 learning takes place.

Ø  Microstrategies
Microstrategies are classroom procedures that are designed to realize the objectives of a particular macrostrategy. Each macrostrategy can have any number of, and any type of, microstrategies, depending on the local learning and teaching situation; the possibilities are endless. However, microstrategies are conditioned and constrained by the national, regional, or local language policy and planning, curricular objectives, institutional resources, and a host of other factors that shape the learning and teaching enterprise in a given context.


D.    Post-Method Predicament
In this subtopic, we will explain challenging barrier for the implementation of pedagogy.
Ø  Pedagogical barrier. The pedagogical barrier relates to the content and character of L2 teacher education. As is well known by now, most models of L2 teacher preparation that have been in place for a long time merely transfer a set of predetermined, preselected, and presequenced body of knowledge from the teacher educator to the prospective teacher. Many teachers has been engaged in the concept of method for a long time and it is difficult for them to move into post-method condition.
Ø  The ideological barrier. It refers to barriers which is managed and manipulated by by much larger forces with a formidable political, economic, and cultural agenda.
E. Facilitating Factors
Facilitating factors refer to recent developments that may help cope with, and eventually overcome, the harmful effects of barriers to postmethod pedagogy. There are two main factors mentioned by Kumarapadivelu:
Ø  The growing attempt to legitimize local knowledge. For example, the ELT professional community, both in the center countries and in the periphery regions, has recently been exploring the nature and scope of local knowledge particularly in light of the emerging process of globalization. For instance, the Journal of Language, Identity and Education (2002) published a thematic issue focusing on local knowledge. A volume on Globalization and Language Teaching, edited by Block and Cameron (2002) explored the changing language teaching policies and practices around the world in light of the emerging process of globalization. In the same year, Singh, Kell, and Pandian (2002) published Appropriating English: Innovation in the Global Business of English Language Teaching, in which they discuss the challenges facing teachers and teacher educators in the transnational ELTmarket.
Ø  The rapid expansion, in recent times, of the research agenda of some of the TESOL professionals. A cluster of books appeared recently offer ideas of post-method pedagogy. For instance, Breen and Littlejohn (2000) bring together personal accounts from teachers who all have shared their pedagogic decision-making process with their students through a process of negotiation. Brumfit (2001) suggests how to maintain a high degree of individual freedom and teacher choice in language teaching by integrating theoretical and empirical work with individual and institutional needs. Johnson and Golombek (2002) have collected personal, contextualized stories of teachers assessing their own “ways of knowing,” thus contributing to our understanding of teacher cognition and teacher knowledge.


Brown, H.D. 2002. English Language Teaching in the “Post-Method” Era: Toward Better Diagnosis, Treatment, and Assessment in J.C. Richards and W.A. Renandya: Methodology in Language Teaching. New York: Cambridge.

Can, Nilufer. nd. Post-Method Pedagogy: Teacher Growth behind Walls. A paper presented on the 10th METU ELT Convention.

Kumaravadivelu, B. 2008. Understaning Language Teaching: From Method to Postmethod. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publisher.

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