In this post I’m going to try to outline the main aspects which define guided discovery and teacher fronting as approaches used within ELT teaching methodology. I’ll then go on to explore some examples and elaborate a little on their practical usage and application. But why choose to write a blog post on this topic? Well it seems that teacher fronting lends itself to what we might perceive as “teaching” before doing a course such as the CELTA and that guided discovery then satisfies our need to learn a ‘better way of doing it’.
So let me tackle each, one at a time. Guided discovery: While there may not be a huge quantity of studies devoted to outlining exactly what constitutes discovery learning and more over guided discovery, there seems to be a consensus as to what constitutes this approach in practice. A ‘nudge and a wink’ from a teacher rather than overt ‘here’s why’ tends to satisfy the guided discovery test. Students are invariably exposed to some sort of text (listening or reading) where they are guided towards making a generalisation or better put, observing a tendency about the language in the text. This normally involves a task instructing students to find instances of the target language and then to answer concept checking questions(which appear on the worksheet) which will go towards forming the acquisition of the language by the learner. This is where the student centered-ness of the approach lies. Students can be paired/grouped to work on hypothesising about the language while the teacher can take a step back.
To say there is no teacher interaction would of course be misleading. The teacher has selected the text, they have raised the ‘noticing questions to draw the learners attention towards noticing the language. Teachers can ‘take student’s brains by the hand’ to a greater or lesser degree. The most obvious example of how the teacher might do this would be to adapt a text to, as Thornbury puts it, ‘flood the text with a conspicuously high rate of target language.’ The learner must then complete a series of consciousness-raising activities usually something like “underline all the examples of xyz” in the text, there then follows a range of concept checking questions about the meaning/use of the language.
See the example below then listen to the short screencast video to listen how to use this sample
(here is the URL for the above video, you can click on it and then you will have the option to view the video in full screen: http://www.screencast.com/t/DHk0XzOn4FY )
I will deal with teacher fronting the part 2 of this post later this week.