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Use Activities That Encourage Noticing

Sumitted by Rosa, USA

The noticing hypothesis suggests that unless learners notice the way language is used, their grammatical proficiency will not develop. Noticing can be the focus of activities such as the following:

An example of a guided noticing activity is for the teacher to give out extracts from texts (e.g. magazine or newspaper articles) and to ask students to see how many examples they can find of a particular form or grammatical pattern. These are then examined more closely to observe the functions they perform at both the sentence and text level.

An example of taking a noticing activity outside the classroom is when students act as ‘language detectives’: they can be asked to observe and notice target forms in use in the ‘real world’, such as by watching interviews and other speech events on the internet or on television and documenting the use of particular grammatical features they have been asked to focus on. This can serve to reinforce vocabulary or particular forms, but it can also be used to help more advanced students become aware of how grammar works together at a textual level instead of focusing only on vocabulary or on sentence-level structures. Students can use a notebook or mobile device for recording examples and can bring these to class for further discussion or clarification.

Further reading: Jones RH, Lock G (2011) Functional Grammar in the ESL Classroom: Noticing, Exploring and Practicing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.