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Poghosyan Naira Implementing blended learning model at an advanced level of esp instruction. Susanna Asatryan Teaching speaking through communicative activities .. - . .. - .. .. - .. .., .., .., ..

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Poghosyan Naira, PhD, associate-professor, Chair of Pedagogy and Language Teaching Methodology, Yerevan State Linguistic University after V. Brusov Yerevan, Republic of Armenia IMPLEMENTING BLENDED LEARNING MODEL AT AN ADVANCED LEVEL OF ESP INSTRUCTION With the spread of globalization English has become the language of international communication. More and more people are using English in a growing number of occupational contexts, thus ESP is becoming increasingly important as there has been an increase in vocational training and learning throughout the world.

Students are starting to learn and therefore master general English at a younger age and so to move on to ESP at an earlier age. From this point of view an ESP teacher is required to balance traditional approaches and technology within an ESP instruction. In an ESP context learners need the English language for specific academic or occupational purposes, and they will be impatient with an ESP course that does not address their difficulties in such authentic micro-tasks.

The aim of this article is to cover a number of beneficial issues concerning the implementation of the Blended learning model within the authentic ESP instruction for the development of communicative linguistic competence of ESP students and for this purpose we first set an objective to analyze some characteristics of communicative ESP instruction towards the uptake of a number of effective Blended learning techniques.

Being designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation, ESP courses assume some basic knowledge of the language systems and are generally designed for intermediate or advanced students.

The ESP focal point is that English is not taught as a subject separated from the students' real world (or wishes);

instead, it is integrated into a subject matter area important to the learners. ESP concentrates more on language in context than on teaching grammar and language structures. It covers subjects varying from accounting or computer science to tourism and business management.

From this point of view students may really benefit from a language course which combines a face-to-face (F2F) classroom component with an appropriate use of tech nology.

The term technology covers a wide range of recent technologies, such as the In ternet, the electronic data projector, interactive whiteboards, laptops etc. ESP teachers can also use computers as a means of communication, such as the, chat and email and thus enrich their courses, such as VLEs (virtual learning environments), blogs and wikis.

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It should be noted that the term blended learning can be applied to a very broad range of teaching and learning situations. Here are a number of typical definitions of blended learning:

1. "learning or training events or activities where e-learning, in its various forms, is combined with more traditional forms of training such as 'classroom' F2F training 2. the combination of multiple pedagogical approaches to teaching or to educational processes which involve the deployment of a diversity of methods and resources 3. combining different web-based technologies Blended (hybrid, mixed) teaching model was introduced in the course of English for Special Purposes recommending the usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) particularly after many universities had installed Moodle (Open Source Learning Management System LMS) on their server with the intention to use it as the platform to conduct fully on-line course or to augment face-to-face courses in the teaching and learning.

As representatives of the Net Generation, learners today have high expectations when it comes to technology. A blended-type ESP course can undoubtedly help the 'digital natives' to develop their professional activity competence, which consists of cognitive competence (theoretical and practical knowledge of the industry), personal competence (communication abilities and social skills) and technologically-professional competence (creative and constructive problem solv ing, communication skills, cooperation).

The CMC (computer-mediated communication) enables the ESP teacher to engage in an academic activity with his/her learners separated by time, distance or both.

Learners can do lots of extra language practice outside the classroom. Besides, technology can offer limitless opportunities for practice and consolidation. Posting course materials online for learners to access can save the teacher the time and expense of photocopying. A teacher who prepares and saves a lesson in an interactive whiteboard can recycle the lesson with the next group.

When we consider the role of technology, it is very helpful to distinguish between the language skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking). These are traditionally divided into productive and receptive skills. Clearly, there are differences in the type of practice required to develop each of the four skills.

In the area of the receptive skills of listening and reading, it is possible to identify a clear role played by a web-based environment. Listening to digital audio, learners have the opportunity to pause at will, and listen and read a transcript. Reading on screen, learners can access meaning on demand by clicking on a hyperlink to find out the meaning of a term. The productive skills of speaking and writing are significantly different, in that the assessment of the output of speaking and writing activities does rely on human interpretation.

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To implement a Blended teaching model in the ESP context the teacher should initially own basic digital competences and skills to incorporate technology in the course properly. Such skills, at least, include:

searching the Web efficiently, knowing which websites, interactive materials to recommend the learners, creating a worksheet from text and pictures, evaluating the subject-specific materials downloaded from the Web, creating Power-Point presentations providing a link between the electronic data projector and a laptop for an in-class presentation, etc.

It should be noted in conclusion that using technology in the ESP course is highly motivating as learners have the opportunity to work at their own pace and follow their own interests. Carefully chosen online materials can enhance the classroom component of the course. Many learners simply like using the computer. They like multimedia exercises, as they can make their own choices as to how to work through the materials. The instant feedback offered by technology on exercises is usually perceived as helpful and learners can make choices as to how many times they redo an exercise.

References 1. Douglas Brown H. Teaching by Principles. An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents, 1994. 466 p.

2. Hutchinson T. and Waters A. English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge University Press, 1993. 183p.

3. Jeremy H. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Pearson Longman.

2007. 448 p.

4. Tony-Dudley E. Developments in ESP: A Multi-disciplinary Approach.

Cambridge University Press, 2010. 300 p.

Susanna Asatryan, PhD, associate-professor, The Chair of Pedagogy and Language Teaching Methodology, Yerevan State Linguistic University after V. Brusov Yerevan, Republic of Armenia TEACHING SPEAKING THROUGH COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITIES Communicative language teaching concerns with all the skills and their integrated usage. Speaking is a skill on oral communication which consists of producing/sending an oral message. Speaking is an integral part of oral conversation. Oral speech is always addressed to the interlocutor or audience. It is time-bound, spontaneous, interactive, -

exists in real life, is accompanied by non-verbal features, gives an opportunity to rethink and repair, employs phonetic means such as timbre, tone, stresses, etc. These make oral speech different from written one.

When we say a person knows the language, we first of all mean he understands the language spoken and can speak himself. Language came into life as a means of communication. It exists and is alive only through speech. When we speak about teaching a foreign language, we first of all have in mind teaching it as a means of communication.

Contemporary world requires that the goal of teaching speaking should improve students' communicative skills, as students can express themselves and learn how to fol low the social and cultural rules appropriate in each communicative circumstance.

Through speaking students learn concepts, develop vocabulary and perceive the struc ture of the English language.

Teachers play an important role in structuring the type of environment that will promote effective oral language development. In promoting speaking skills particular attention is paid on ways of developing speaking skills.

The main document of European plurilingual education policy, the CEFR states, that while teaching speaking not only linguistic competence, but also sociolinguistic, discourse, strategic, socio-cultural and social competences should be developed, as they all are the main components of communicative ability [1;

p. 101]. Speaking activities aim to develop the learners confidence, motivation and ability to use the target lan guage not only accurately but also appropriately and effectively for the purpose of communication. Speaking as a skill depends much on communication strategies which include:

o approximation, paraphrase, word-coinage o negotiation of meaning o time-creating devices (Hmm) o elliptical language o body-language, changing the subject o asking for clarification (What?) o asking someone to repeat something (Huh? Excuse me?) o using fillers (Uh, I mean, Well) in order to gain time to process communication o using conversation maintenance cues (Uh huh, Right, Yeah, Okay, Hm) o getting someone's attention (Hey, Say, So) o using paraphrases for structures one can't produce o using mime and nonverbal expressions to convey the meaning.

Actually we distinguish three major principles/guiding rules of teaching to speak. They are:

o teaching to speak is done through motivated speaking for meaning o teaching to speak is done through speaking for information -

o teaching to speak is done through speaking for interaction. [2].

When we say a person knows the language, we first of all mean he understands the language spoken and can speak himself. Language came into life as a means of communication. It exists and is alive only through speech.

When we speak about teaching a foreign language, we first of all have in mind teaching it as a means of communication. Some speaking activities are provided below, that can be applied to ESL and EFL classroom settings, serving as a guideline for teachers who teach oral language.

Three-Phase Framework - Like other types of communicative language skills, teaching speaking is characterized with three-phase framework, which is shown in the following pyramid diagram:

The relation between these three phases with their corresponding contents are illustrated as follows:

Three Phases Contents Schemata and language activation.

o Pre-Speaking Activities Speaker motivation. Idea preparation.

Role-playing, problem-solving, o While-Speaking Activities story-telling, game-playing, socializing.

Reflection on the activity. Focus on o Post-Speaking Activities language. Focus on ideas.

Integrated skills. Further tasks.

Pre-speaking activity is to prepare the participants for the main speaking activity.

Schemata activation is recalling prior world-knowledge of the participants that is relevant to the speaking situation. Questions, pictures and texts can be used to these respects. Brainstorming is an activity used to generate ideas in small groups before the -

main speaking activity. The purpose is to create as many ideas as possible within a specified time period. The ideas are not evaluated until the end of activity time[2;

p.

327-331]. Motivation of participants can be enhanced when they clearly see the communicative problem and the ways to resolve it.

While-speaking the participants actually resolve the communicative problem and produce its resolution as a result of the role-play, real-play, simulation, problem solving, socialization or wide range of communicative games.

Post-speaking can provide opportunities for the learners to re-visit the language and ideas produced and to think of the ways to make communication more effective. An important part of the post-speaking activity is the development of integrated communicative skills, i.e. reading-and-speaking task, listening-and-speaking task, speaking-and-writing task etc [8;

p. 27].

Organizing Communicative Activities - As it has already been mentioned, strategic competence is one of the virtual components of communicative ability, which in its turn requires suitable classroom activities. These activities should be developed in appropriate situations where the learners are motivated and able to get engaged in communication.

The learners must be involved in tasks suited to their interest and linguistic development. In contemporary language teaching classes a variety of activities are carried out to promote the development of speaking skills on the one hand, and their communicative competence on the other. The learners can speak personally in the classroom situation, to know each other better. They exchange information, express feelings and values through interviews, surveys, games, etc. and this way they become involved in discussions, story- telling and different projects.

The use of dialogues in language teaching has a long tradition. Stereotyped dialogues and dialogues in unnatural language have been recently replaced by more natural dialogues, which illustrate how sentences are combined for the purpose of communication in clearly defined (specific) social context.

In dialogue activities not only accurate expression is important but also the appropriate use of language forms in a specific social context. Therefore the learners should take into consideration:

o who is speaking to whom o about what o for what purpose o where and when.

It is also important to heighten learners awareness of how dialogue is structured, of ways of opening, maintaining and classing a conversation, and of the strategies used by the speakers to negative meaning so that their efforts at communication achieve the desired result.

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Using dialogues to help students develop their conversation skills is common practice in most English classes. Dialogues can be used in many ways in a classroom.

Here are a few suggestions for using dialogues in the classroom:

o introduce new vocabulary and help students become familiar with standard formulas used when discussing various topics o use gap-fill exercises for students as a listening exercise o use dialogues for role-plays o have students write dialogues to test key vocabulary and language formulas o have students memorize simple dialogues as a way of helping them improve their vocabulary skills o ask students to finish a dialogue.

Here we introduce examples of some popular types of communicative activities. In every case, we are primarily concerned with enabling and encouraging communication in class.

Picture difference tasks - In pairs, one student is given picture A, one picture B.

Without looking at the other picture, they have to find the differences (i.e. by describing the pictures to each other).

Group planning tasks - The first example is 'planning a holiday'. Collect together a number of advertisements or brochures advertising a holiday. Explain to the students that they can all go on holiday together, but they must all agree on where they want to go. Divide the students into groups of three and give each group a selection of this material. Their task is to plan a holiday for the whole group (within a fixed budget per person). Allow them a good amount of time to read and select a holiday and then to prepare a presentation in which they attempt to persuade the rest of the class that they should choose this holiday. When they are ready, each group makes their presentation and the class discusses and chooses a holiday.

List sequencing tasks - Prepare a list of items that learners can discuss and place in a particular order according to their opinions, e.g.

o What's the most useful invention?

o What's the best improvement that could be made to our town?

o What are the worst programmes on TV?

o Who's the most important person of the last 100 years?

o What are the qualities of a good language course?

Pyramid discussion - A Pyramid discussion is an organizational technique that works particularly well with simple problem-based discussions and especially with item-selection tasks, e.g. 'What are the four most useful things to have with you if you are shipwrecked on a desert island?', or list sequencing tasks, e.g. 'Put these items in order of importance'. Here's how to do it:

1. Introduce the problem, probably using a list on the board or on handouts.

2. Start with individual reflection - learners each decide what they think might be a -

solution.

3. Combine individuals to make pairs, who now discuss and come to an agreement or compromise. If you demand that there must be an agreed compromise solution before you move on to the next stage, it will significantly help to focus the task.

4. Combine the pairs to make fours;

again, they need to reach an agreement.

5. Join each four with another four or - in a smaller class - with all the others.

6. When the whole class comes together, see if you can to reach one class solution.

What's the point of doing a discussion in this way? Most importantly, the technique gives students time to practice speaking in smaller groups before facing the whole class.

Even the weaker speakers tend to find their confidence grows as the activity proceeds and they are able to rehearse and repeat arguments that they have already tested on others. [6;

p.153].

"Eavesdropping" - This activity is designed particularly for learners of higher proficiency. Example: Listen to a conversation somewhere in a public place and be prepared to answer some general questions about what was said:

o Who was talking?

o About how old were they?

o Where were they when you eavesdropped?

o What were they talking about?

o What did they say?

o Did they become aware that you were listening to them?

While performing this task the learners appear in real life situations. They must do their best to listen as properly as posible. Perhaps, they manage to guess the topic of conversation they listened to.

Listening is followed by the whole-class discussion. The learners express their own ideas and considerations.

Information transfer - Communicative exercises in teaching to speak are organized as information transfer which supposes extracting certain pieces of information from a non-verbal form e.g. a table, a graph, a map etc). Such kind of activities help the learners to get involved in meaning focused tasks. While performing this exercise it becomes clear how well the learners absorbed the language material and understood the content of the text.

Information Gap-This is a type of communicative activity generally associated with interaction[8;

p.129]. Information is conveyed from the person who possesses it to the one who lacks it. Information gap can take the form of a jigsaw: each learner has only some information, which is part of the whole and is to be brought together by means of oral communication.

Example: Identify two flights that best fit for the person's need:

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There are two shuttles leaving Atlanta airport for Auburn, one at 11:00 am, and the other at 8:00 pm.

Someone is coming to Auburn from Chicago. She or he wants to find a flight that arrives in Atlanta airport 45 minutes to an hour before the shuttle leaves for Auburn so that he or she can have enough time to catch the shuttle, but does not have to wait for too long. Four students participate in this activity. Their task is to find two flight they meet the above criteria. Each student has the flight information for only one of the following four airlines, Delta, Northwest, United, and American.

The learners are required to identify two flights that possess the same criteria and satisfy the person equally.

Problem solving task - This activity reminds us about the task-based learning:

first ranks the students work, then the their linguistic knowledge [2;

p. 233-23].

While performing the task the students realize that their linguistic knowledge helps them solve the problem, that is to decide the exact amount of money required.

Role-play, Real play and Simulation - The term "Role play" is generally used to refer to a wide range of practice and communicative activities. Some of the controlled or guided dialogues, especially cued dialogues, might be considered as an introduction to role play. These prepare learners to take part in role play activities which require greater spontaneity and fluency.

In line with D. Byrne, Role-play can be described with at least four features:

o closeness (a plot can be very close to one's own experience or distant) o situation (a situation can be very typical for every day or unlikely) o realism (the circumstances can be realistic or imaginary) o personality (the characters of the role-play can resemble the participants themselves or be alien to them). [3;

p. 117-118]. Role-play can be:

o controlled (the participants are responsible for the language they use) o semi-controlled (participants are partly expected to use the prescribed language) o free (participants are responsible for the message not for the prescribed language o small-scale (lasting for a lesson or less) o large-scale (lasting for more than a lesson or perhaps for the whole term) The ultimate aim of role play, as of all speaking activities, is to involve learners in fluent and creative expression in a way which can and should be enjoyable. This, as always, requires a supportive classroom atmosphere of relief, particularly for shyer learners. Learners who are familiar with role play may be introduced to simulation which is a more complex activity, usually requiring greater preparation and organisation and more time to carry out. Simulations may involve learners in imaginative activities, for example how to survive on a desert island in the face of various dangers and difficulties, or, more realistically, in accomplishing a task such as preparing the front page of a newspaper, a publicity campaign, or a radio/TV programme. Both role play and simulation require careful planning.

A powerful variation on role-play is Real-play. Typically, one of the learners plays him/herself. This person explains a context (e.g. from his/her work life) to other learners, and then together they recreate the situation in class. The real-play technique allows learners to practise language they need in their own life. Such kind of activities embrace a large -

number of learners, who try to have their own performance, employing language communicative abilities. The learners acquire cooperative skills and become more selfconfident[4;

p. 352].

So communicative language teaching doesnt suggest any ready-made recipe.

The main challenge is that the learners should get involved in communicative tasks/activities as far as possible and actually talk a lot, the language used should be of an acceptable level[9;

p.117].The teacher who seems outwardly passive, must follow students interaction, coordinating and conducting the integrated teaching process of language means and communicative skills.

References 1. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, Modern Languages Division, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 2. Brown D., Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. San Francisco State University, 3. Byrne, D., Teaching Oral English. Longman. 4. Harmer J., How To Teach English, Pearson, Longman, 5. Littlewood, W. Communicative Language Teaching: an Introduction. CUP, 1981.

6. Scrivener J., Learning teaching, Pearson, Longman, 7. Sheils J., Communication in the Modern Language Classroom. Council of Europe, 8. Thornbury S., How to Teach Speaking, Pearson, Longman, 9. Ur P., A Course in English Language Teaching, Cambridge University Press, 10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communicative Competence.

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