Workshops for Language Teachers

Communicative Grammar in Practice

 David Newby and Elisabeth Pölzleitner

(University of Graz)

Despite the spread of communicative language teaching (CLT) and a wealth of research into second-language acquisition, both of which have featured strongly in recent decades, grammar teaching in many European countries is still dominated by traditional approaches to language description and methodology, which have scant theoretical underpinning. There is little evidence that either principles of CLT or acquisition theories proposed by applied linguists have found uptake among pedagogical grammarians, materials writers and classroom teachers. In our workshop we shall discuss how principles deriving from an approach termed Cognitive+Communicative Grammar (Newby, 2002 etc.), which serves as the basis for teacher education seminars at Graz and Vienna Universities, has been used to guide design tasks of pedagogical grammar: objective setting, rule formulation and activity design etc. The workshop will be illustrated by activities used successfully for many years at the Graz International Bilingual School.

David NewbyDavid Newby was, until his retirement, head of the department of foreign language didactics at the Institute for English Studies, Graz University. He held a guest professorship at Bergen University, Norway, for three years and is currently lecturing at Vienna University. He is the author of school textbooks, reference grammars and activities. He has held workshops on pedagogical grammar for teachers in many countries. He is project coordinator and co-author of the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages and is currently working for the Council of Europe on projects for teachers in the Caucasus regions.

Elisabeth Pölzleitner teaches English at the Graz International Bilingual School as well as methodology classes for future teachers of English at Graz University. Moreover, she regularly holds workshops for language teachers at teacher education colleges (Pädagogische Hochschulen) in Austria. Her main areas of expertise are pedagogical grammar for teachers, creative writing, extensive reading,  brain-friendly language teaching, assessment for learning and the creative use of new technologies in the classroom.


Mind your learners’ minds! The case of Processing Instruction in English Language Teaching

Tanja Angelovska (University of Salzburg)

The rise of the Communicative Approach to Language Teaching led to a neglected role of grammar instruction in the language classroom (Tonkyn 1994). It is now no longer a question of whether we should teach grammar or not, but rather how to teach grammar in order to help language learners acquire it. Research in second language acquisition (SLA) has shown that even when learners know particular grammar rules when it comes to processing heard or read sentences learners do not attend to these rules, i.e. learners skip particular forms in the input and have difficulties to process them (Van Patten, 2005) – a well-known problem of many practitioners. Such problems have led researchers to design particular instructional interventions which are input-oriented and meaning-based (Benati et al., 2014, Lee and Benati, 2009, VanPatten et al. 2013, Wong, 2005). The focus of this workshop is to bring the benefits of grammar knowledge closer to L2 practitioners by explaining Processing Instruction, both its main theoretical underpinnings, as well as the guidelines for developing structured input practices.

Tanja Angelovska is Assistant Professor of English Linguistics and L2 Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Salzburg. Prior to this position she has taught at the University of Munich (LMU) and at the University of Greenwich (UK), where she accomplished a Leverhulme-Trust-funded post-doc project on “Processing Instruction and the Age Factor”. Her research interests are the acquisition, processing and use of English as a second and third language.