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Designing Teacher Questions to Implement Focus on Form in Reading Stories
This paper owes the definition of“ focus on form" to Long and Robinson (1998):“ [D]uring an otherwise meaning-focused classroom lesson, focus on form often consists of an occasional shift of attention to linguistic code features . . . ." The aim of this paper is to design teacher questions which will help implement Focus on Form (F on F hereafter) in the reading class. The text to be read is“ The Selfish Giant" by Oscar Wilde, which is in Polestar: English Communication I, a MEXT-authorized senior high school English textbook. The research procedure is as follows:
(1) Analysis of“ The Selfish Giant" as it appears in Polestar: English Communication I
(2) Reading of“ The Selfish Giant"
(3) Designing teacher questions for the implementation of F on F
The results are as follows:
(1) Polestar: English Communication I does not include “The Selfish Giant" in its ten “Lessons" but has it as a“ Further Reading." The whole of the original“ The Selfish Giant" is put with a word list and some explanation on such expressions as“ to-morrow" and“ Who art thou?" Attached to the text is “COMPREHENSION." It consists of “Summary," “Check for understanding," and“ Let's try," which have 5, 4, and 1 question(s), respectively. The point is that all the questions in“ COMPREHENSION" direct our attention just to the meaning of the text, not to“ linguistic code features" in Long and Robinson's term.
(2) Questions asked by a teacher should be based on his/her reading of a text. So it would be necessary for us to have read“ The Selfish Giant" in our own way. At the beginning of the story there is a kind of harmony in the Giant's garden with children, flowers and birds affecting one another. The harmony is destroyed when the Giant comes home, his castle. He has a“ very gruff" voice which stands in stark contrast to“ lovely" elements in the garden. He builds a high wall around the garden so that children cannot play in it. Harmony being destroyed, we start to detect dichotomous elements: inside and outside; mine and yours; the past and the present; winter and the other three seasons; life and death. The turning point in the story is when children creep into the garden through a little hole. As the Giant sees a tree bending its branches so that“ a little boy" can reach up to them, his heart eventually“ melts" and he feels really sorry for his selfish behavior. Not only his heart but also the boundaries between dichotomous elements“ melt." Harmony comes back to the Giant's garden.
(3) The 17 questions proposed are based on the reading in (2). All the questions should be answered with“ linguistic code features" in the text as a clue. Questions 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 15 and 16 are particularly intended to direct our attention to form.
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