ARC and PPP

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ARC, which stands for AUTHENTIC, RESTRICTED AND CLARIFICATION was developed by Jim Scrivener, not as a teaching method but rather as a means to examine the different stages in a lesson and evaluate them in terms of what the students get out of them.  The idea is that every lesson should have an appropriate balance of activities that can be categorised as above.

Authentic activities are those in which the language is not restricted.  They can be either receptive or productive activities.  An example of receptive would be a relatively authentic reading or listening which exposes students to natural English.  Productive would be a speaking activity with a focus on fluency, where the student has free choice of language rather than practicing specific structures. Communicative activities are authentic.

Restricted activities are those which restrict the students to using specific linguistic items, such as specific lexis or grammatical structures.  Typical activities might include gap fills or substitution drills (i.e. the students use the grammatical form in a different way).  Controlled practice activities are restricted.

Clarification refers to any activity in which the language is explained to the students.  It could simply be explanations of grammar or lexis provided by the teacher, or it could be students discovering meanings and/or rules for themselves through guided discovery.

The balance of authentic, restricted and clarificaiton activities will depend on the lesson.  For example, a conversation-based lesson will tend to have more authentic activities which grammar input will involve more clarification.  However, students need all three to learn effectively.

PPP

Although PPP continues to be the most popular methodology, it has been widely criticised and a comparison with TBL using ARC and the essentials for language learning limits are revealed.  Nevertheless, it can stil be an effective method of teaching, particularly with lower level learners, basic grammar points and a guide for inexperienced teachers to work from.

Stages:

  • Presentation: Activity – introduce target language Aim – focus on meaning and form (ARC = Clarification)
  • Practice:  Activity – Ss practice using controlled expressions Aim – acquisition (ARC = Restricted)
  • Production: Activity – Ss use target language i.e. role play Aim – oral fluency, useage in context (ARC – Authentic)

What’s good about it?

  • Suggested that it is based on a behaviourist approach (like audiolingualism which was based on lots of controlled practice but no presentation phase and not much production).  However a learning theory that might be more in line with PPP is that it is more of a cognitive learning approach. We have declarative knowledge (knowledge that…) and then through practice this knowledge is proceduralized and becomes knowledge ‘how’.  The stages move from being presented with facts (presentation) through to a skill (automaticity in using the target language).
  • Gives teachers control over content and direction of a very structured lesson through a 3-stage template.
  • Reflects what coursebooks do
  • Logical for the students
  • Easy for less experienced teachers to follow

Criticisms:

  • linear and mechanical way of learning.
  • Requires learner to package language into presentable units of grammar. Doesn’t go inot the fact that there are layers to a language, different aspects that fit together in different ways.

…the underlying theory for PPP approach has now been discredited.  The belief that a precise  focus on a particular form leads to learning no longer carries much credibility in lingusitics or psychology (Dave Willis)

PPP suggested that languages were best learned by limiting the language to which learners were exposed and practicing it intensely.  In fact the opposite is probably the truth (Michael Lewis)

The paradox is that many tutors who use PPP as a training paradigm don’t actually use much PPP in their own language teaching.  (Jim Scrivener)

Notes adapted from: Introduction to TBL, The Willis Model and Variations – Ken Lackman and Associates, Educational Consultants) Slideshare

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