At present, speaking a foreign language represents one of the essential requirements of today´s society. Based on my work experience, I can confirm that knowing a foreign language is a necessity for everyone. The president of the republic of Uzbekistan paid a significant attention to improve the system of learning foreign languages and adopted the decree PD-1875 on ”The further improving the system of learning foreign languages” on December 10th 2012. This order makes us, the teachers feel and comprehends responsibility, in fulfilling the given task, as well as contribute to the implementation of reforms, master our professional teaching skills. Teachers have limitless possibilities in the progression of education and education technology. In modern society, because of globalization, communications between nations is widely active. On another hand, economic area has shifted from developed country to developing country. Therefore, the communication between people who are from different cultural background is more and more prevalent. During the connection, people who have intercultural communication competence are easy to achieve their goal in their notational, particularly in business world. From this point of view, as a college teacher, we have to think about how to make our students have ability to receive the challenge after their graduation, how to make them communicate properly with foreigners, and how to train or cultivate their competence of intercultural communication.
Three stages in the evolution of understanding language as skill in the field of foreign language didactics. Taking into account such criteria as the socioeconomic situation, the state of technology and the purposes for which English as a foreign language is used, learned and taught, three stages can be distinguished in the evolving conceptions of language as skill:
1) the philological stage;
2) the linguistic stage; and
3) the psycholinguistic stage (early, middle, and present).
Stages 2 and 3 deserve a closer inspection in that the ideas on the development of foreign language skills have been derived from increasingly solid scientific bases, such as linguistics and psycholinguistics, as well as from research on second/foreign language learning. The psycholinguistic stage, which spans at least four decades, emphasizes the uniqueness of the phonemic and graphemic sub-codes in comprehension and production, modality-specific considerations relevant from the perspective of the language learner, the characteristic seepage of various cues — such as linguistic, para- and non-linguistic — in the process of language use as skill, the role of communicative constraints in language use, and last but not least, the centrality of meaning, especially domain-specific content and expertise (c.f. Gernsbacher 1994; Gaskell 2007).
Habit, skill and drill
During the audio-lingual period, the dominating slogan of the day was the notion that language is a system of habits, i.e. non-reflective language use with ease and fluency. Habits were developed in line with the psychological principles of behaviorism while the ideas regarding the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing, were derived from the grammatical syllabus based on structural linguistics. The notions of habit and skill coexisted peacefully but were not sufficiently distinguished from each other. Habits were supposed to be developed by means of practice, which was an integral part of the audio-lingual teaching strategies mentioned in one breath with drill, imitation, and pattern practice (Rivers 1964). Drill, imitation, and repetition are overlapping terms referring to the typical audio-lingual exercises. Drill seems to be an imitative activity aimed at fast practice, imitation is an act of copying some source material, e.g. a dialogue, and repetition is a recursive activity which involves doing the task (of whatever nature) more than once.
A typical audio-lingual exercise combines elements of drill, imitation, and repetition: the brisk pace of the activity, limited amount of the learner’s contribution, and repetition to the point of overlearning. Drill lost the popularity in the foreign language classroom which it used to enjoy in the audio-lingual era. The problem with the use of drill seems to be the unrealistic expectations connected with it on the one hand, and the position of drill with other components of communicative practice. The pace of practice was essential for the success of learning. However, this function of drill is infeasible from our present point of view because the material which is meaningless and insufficiently understood cannot be remembered, not to mention automatized and used in unpredictable situations.
The next point is that fluent, i.e. skillful language use cannot be mastered merely by echoing, manipulating, or otherwise inculcating ready sentences produced by someone else. We must produce them ourselves, from scratch, in order to experience the decision-making process, which goes together with language use in a dynamic communicative environment. In a drill, the learner tries to retain this ready material in his or her working memory only to the extent to which it is necessary to reproduce it immediately (Levelt 1975), whereas in speaking the language user performs many demanding decisions and operations to construct an utterance: he or she constructs the communicative intention to be expressed, the style in which it is to be expressed, selects a sentence plan to convert the thought into an utterance, inserts the lexical material and adjusts elements to fit the whole (Levelt 1989). Following the recognition of the weaknesses of the audiolingual approach, researchers and teachers in the field of English as a foreign language realized that language is a complex skill which is not to be confused with habit and which cannot be developed by means of drills. What makes a skill difficult is not performing its single component, but the integration of all of the components in fractions of seconds. Fluent speakers perform all these operations with ease, but their skill is the effect of practice and expertise, accomplished by painstaking attempts, filled with hesitations, effort and trials in various contexts and dynamic combinations. The benefits of drill sessions, on the other hand, materialize as improved pronunciation at best, but they cannot accelerate the development of the speaking skill. Drill may be recommended as a form of rhythm and pronunciation practice, which helps the learner to consolidate the articulatory operations involved in producing phonemes at the level of clauses. To sum up, knowledge refers to the vastly distributed mental networks, hierarchies and systems of information, activated in encoding and decoding communicative intentions. It includes a variety of representations: words in our mental lexicon categorized from the point of view of form, associations and meaning, modality specific representations, declarative and procedural records, syntagmatic and paradigmatic representations, (preverbal) plans, schemata, scenarios, scripts, conventions and rules, as well as models of culture-specific discourse genres. Knowledge may be fuzzy and poorly organized, and therefore harder to access, as much as well-organized and explicit, and thus more easily accessible and available for verbalization.
In this context, the notion of language use as skill has been defined as a behavioral category denoting a hierarchical integration of communicative choices, which enable the language user to resort to controlled processes for the strategically more important decisions and execute them with the help of subordinated automatic processes.
The difficulty of developing skills in foreign language learning results from the fact that the integration and automaticity necessary in skilled language use are developed via flexible adjustable acts of composing utterances, i.e. they must be practiced in countless communicative tasks which take time, in contrast to rigid language drills aimed at fixed grammatical forms, taken out of their communicative environment. Skill acquisition requires relevant models of behavior, practice, imitation and repetition, rehearsal, deliberate planning, integration, whole-part task strategy, feedback incorporation, etc., provided the material is communicatively relevant and the unit of activity is sufficiently sizeable to be stored as a communicative event, which is to say, it must have an episodic structure of a meaningful communicative task.
From the point of view of the needs of language learners, the most important function of discourse is that of language input, i.e. the source of information on how competent speakers code their communicative intentions into target language forms and do this intelligibly as well as idiomatically in situational contexts. More specifically, target language discourse is a model and a source of knowledge about discourse genres, i.e. culturally specific discourse types with their domain terminology, structure and characteristic coherence and cohesion devices. Discourse is not only an outcome of communicative processes, the effect of language production and the material for comprehension, but also the material for study and reasoning.
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