To teach language, learners need to understand how, when and where to use it properly. Thus, they need to be given language in context. To start with, let’s define context. According to Celce-Murcia and Olshtain, context is defined as “all the factors and elements that are nonlinguistic and nontextual but which affect spoken or written communicative interaction” (Celce-Murcia and Olshtain, 2000, p. 11).Context in the study of language refers to the communication either spoken or written and it helps learners to perceive and produce the lan guage being taught appropriately.
The “setting” and “language” (Duranti and Goodwin in Celce-Murcia and Olshtain, 2000, p. 12) have the largest influence in classroom situations where tasks are set into context as they are seen as the “situational context” (Celce-Murcia and Olshtain, 2000, p. 12)
Students should be exposed to the context that describes a situation they should feel themselves into and that gives information about how to use certain grammatical or vocabulary aspects of language in situations that are similar to real life situations.
This kind of activities is what can be described as contextualization which provides a meaningful effect on the teaching and learning process. Contextualization creates and sets up a context and a meaningful environment or situation that can be real or simulates reality for the utterance or language concept being taught.
The task based learning approach (TBL) and content and language integrated learning approach (CLIL) consider contextualization as significant to the learning process of foreign languages.
Auer explains that contextualization consists of “all activities which make relevant, maintain, revise, cancel, any aspect of context which in turn is responsible for the interpretation of an utterance in its particular locus of occurrence”. (Roberts, 2001, p. 117).
Teaching language items isolated from context is missing a great deal of the meaning and message that should be conveyed through language. Hence, the importance of contextualizing language aspects is crystal clear when a learner tries to use an utterance in the wrong context. Contextualization gives communicative meaning and value to the language in discussion.
Guessing meaning of vocabulary items from context is one of the natural learning strategies that help foreign language learners.
For instance, To teach the language used for polite requests, the teacher may prepare a telephone role-play or a short video. A more simple example of contextualization can be by providing and eliciting sentences for new vocabulary items.
For any language teaching research, certain contextual variables must be considered. They include the instructional methodology, the situation and the learner.
Thus, instructions should be given in context. For example, to teach the meaning of the word “bank”, a teacher should provide the context or provide the word at least in a complete sentence like” The girl walked on the bank of the river”. Then, the teacher should ask students to guess the meaning of the word bank according the its meaning in the mentioned sentence.
In addition, a certain utterance can only be accurately explained in context.
Contextualization develops an ability to perceive and produce appropriate utterances so that learners should learn and acquire the language. It is subsequently important to provide a pragmatic motivation for utterances to create adequate classroom communication. “lack of a pragmatic motivation behind a question makes subsequent classroom communication less active” (Long, Brock, Crookes, Deicke, Potter, ; Zhang, 1984).
the preliminary results from an exploratory pilot study using this instructional methodology.
There are different techniques to contextualize such utterances so that they make pragmatic sense within the provided situation.
Techniques for Contextualization(Yoshinori Sasaki
Y.Sasaki at unsw.edu.au
University of New South Wales
School of Asian Business ; Language Studies
Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia)
Technique #1: Use abstract arts
A teacher can display pictures of George Smith’ s painting “Heart Beat”. Then, students should be asked about the picture and about what it might refer to.
Technique #3: Reduce available perceptual information
To teach students how to concentrate and listen carefully in class, I bring a couple of objects, put them in boxes and shuffle them fast in front of them. Then I shake each box asking them to guess which object is possibly in each box. Only a good listener can recognize the objects.
Technique #4: Introduce a change of state
This technique can be easily used in teaching science. For example, to show students how water can change into different forms. Using an experiment of boiling water can convince students that water can exist in different forms. This is a kind of contextualizing and personalizing knowledge.
Technique #5: Take advantage of cultural knowledge gaps
While teaching Shakespeare’s poem “Shall I compare Thee to a Summer’s Day”, a discussion of the weather in Britain is needed to explain the poet’s motive for comparing his beloved to a summer’s day. Some pictures would greatly help too.
Foreign language teachers sometimes come across pragmatically unmotivated model dialogues in a textbook. However, it is often possible to make those seemingly nonsense utterances a motivated one by providing an appropriate context, so that transactions in class provide a realistic communication.
two different ways multimedia can provide context.
Contextualized Language Samples
If you want to teach students how to pronounce certain vowels such as /ai/, it will greatly help if you exp ose students to words such as “rain, stain, contain” using a native speaker’s recording. Then, ask students to read and pronouns other words that contain the same sound , even if the student weren’t exposed to before. Student will be able to utter other words that contain the same vowel correctly and appropriately because they have encountered the same vowel in context.
Contextualized Learning Environment
One day, I needed to teach my daughter the word “shy”. I reminded her of her feeling when a friend of mine met her for the first time and asked her about how she was. Moreover, a teacher can show the meaning of the word ” excited ” by providing an appropriate environment such as preparing a surprise for an active student.