There’s a Mercury Music Prize-winning band name if ever I heard one. This post is actually a long one about Anderson, CAP/TATE, British Council and Project-based learning – that didn’t have quite the same ring to it.
I attended Jason Anderson’s webinar last night on contemporary lesson planning and frameworks in TESOL (hosted by DublinTEFL). Really well-presented, very informative.
Watch the full talk here!
The webinar in 330 words
Anderson started by providing a good overview of traditional frameworks for lesson planning (PPP, TTT and all that), many of which are introduced on initial teacher training courses. He summarised some popular alternatives which are seen by some as more principled, student-centred, effective for dealing with emergent needs, etc (TBLT, Dogme). He acknowledged that most of us probably take (or would like to take) an eclectic approach in practice.
Then he set about addressing a misconception held by many – that current(ish) ELT coursebook units tend to be built around the more traditional frameworks, notably PPP. He briefly mentioned his own research into the frameworks used in coursebooks and showed, with some clear examples, that the ‘coursebooks-follow-ppp’ assumption isn’t true.
Anderson explained how recent coursebooks tend to follow what he terms a CAP model (Context-Analysis-Practice), or lend themselves practically to a CAPE model (+Evaluation). This wasn’t a case of ‘Anderson, the CAPEd Crusader of Coursebooks!’ There was no staunch defence of coursebook methodology, but perhaps a nudge to view such resources with fresh eyes.
The main point of the talk was to introduce an alternative framework for initial lesson planning – Anderson’s TATE. This can be used by teachers, particularly those using prescribed resources in certain contexts, and may also be useful for teacher trainers as a new framework to consider introducing on ITT courses:
This framework was proposed for various reasons, examples being:
- It aligns well with current coursebook methodology, and can serve to support practical application of coursebook resources.
- It’s flexible, and there is scope for dealing with aspects of learning that are perhaps addressed more effectively through alternative approaches. The proposed framework is open to the possibility of stages for incidental form focus, emergent language focus, and so on.
- It recognises that there is no clear agreement when it comes to interface, and seeks to accommodate both explicit and implicit learning.
- It acknowledges the commonplace yet sometimes overlooked practice of translanguaging in ELT classrooms.
- It’s a framework that can be applied at both lesson and scheme of work level, and could align with in-vogue approaches like CLIL and PjBL (note: I disagree with Anderson’s take on PjBL as a product approach, I feel it’s more product-oriented yet the process is the learning)
Anderson concedes limitations with the framework such as whether it is suited to YL contexts.
I find Anderson refreshing. I imagine that some teacher trainers will curse the guy for trying to introduce yet another framework, another acronym, whatever. For me though, he’s pretty much bang on with a lot of his points.
It was evident for me from the outset that Anderson has perspective. He understands that plenty of teachers are working within institutional/cultural/contextual constraints, and that certain approaches just will not either work or be embraced. Nevertheless, in providing a framework that seeks to enhance and perhaps optimise teaching from prescribed resources, he also acknowledges the alternatives, pointing out how and where these might appear in a lesson or lesson sequence. TATE is really well-thought out, and equally as astute as Anderson’s coursebook analysis. So much so, in my opinion, that Anderson’s concessions in his TATE article about this framework being less applicable for experienced teachers are simply too humble.
Covering all bases can be tough. One good: It is laudable (to use the way A refers to Ellis) that Anderson acknowledges the importance of translanguaging, so much so to embed it in a framework potentially aimed at early career teachers. One meh: It is also questionable to suggest that a framework that could be applied at lesson level only could result in automatization of target features on completion of the task stage. Over a sequence, with enough repetition, maybe. Although this would depend on the target features I guess.
In Anderson’s articles on both CAP and TATE, it is the summarised table forms of his ideas that do him a disservice I think…
Take a look at these abridged examples of CAP. You can see very well how these lend themselves to a task-supported syllabus, and they are pretty much the skeleton of most myClass lessons I used to write at the Council. But these examples portray C – Context is a very reduced manner. They don’t marry with the coursebook examples Anderson provides in his talk at all and they ignore the massive importance Anderson himself places on front-loading based on context.
He does the same in the TATE summary table. The initial T – Text is not simply about introducing a text to drive the lesson. The pre-text tasks and the context builders are the real crux, as they will shape how the lesson evolves – gaps that become evident, language that is already known, etc. While also giving opportunity for incidental practice of other language that may be recycled (as Anderson mentions in TATE article). Despite Anderson providing a very insightful commentary on the importance of context, the TATE acronym reduces Anderson’s ideas so that they are confused with text-based presentation – as someone in the talk highlighted.
I genuinely wish he’d have called his framework POTATOES, as it gives TATE the ‘fluff’ it deserves:
Pre-text tasks and…
Orientation to topic as a whole
Open-discussion on task content
Evaluation – extending discussion on content to language, emergent stuff, etc
S… I don’t know. Something intelligent. Sort out what’s needed next? Scrap the bits that didn’t work? I didn’t think the S through.
Jason Anderson consulted for the British Council? (Evens)
So, it’s either one of the biggest coincidences since global ELT resources began, or it’s fact – Jason Anderson consulted on British Council Secondary Plus.
Flick through most of these mags and you’ll get the TATE model in action…
They often start with two massive context builders with written and aural texts. Here’s a reading example…
They’ll have lots of the features Anderson mentions with the merged text-and-analysis sections, here you’ve got some priming, meaning in context, plus there’s integrated skills there, etc. The listening does the same.
And then bam, you’re into a task relevant to the context, in this case it was preparing a viral ad campaign. I won’t share that as it was a weaker part of the resource to be honest. Not enough context. I used a simulation to bulk that out for my learners, getting them to respond to a semi-authentic ad brief I made up for Lactasoy. Bit more of a hook.
That one was just for Matt Noble! Anyhow.
I’ve spoken about this particular resource before and, ironically given what I said about Anderson’s model, it needed bulking out with pre-text activities (my viral context builder was part of that, lesson in itself and an important point I guess that Anderson’s model is full of mini-lessons really).
So, right, Anderson comes along with a PjBL article for ETpro recently and given this is the supposed approach used in Secondary Plus, I’m willing to bet the earnings from my last writing project that Anderson had a hand in this one. If he didn’t, it’s a highly TATEd course before we all knew what that even meant.
Regarding the webinar, this is an excellent watch – great choice DublinTEFL. Regarding Anderson’s coursebook analysis and CAP, certainly interesting and from a writer’s perspective I feel like ‘Ahhh, you got us!’
Regarding TATE, I think there are a lot of teachers I know that will relate to this framework. For me, it’s a great attempt at a principled and evidence-informed framework that is likely applicable to many contexts. It’s seems it already has been 😉 And the caveats on how it’s not a universal framework are refreshing.