Conditionals are sentences describing implications or hypothetical situations and their results. Two clauses make up a conditional: the condition clause and the consequent clause, which are dependent on each other (Narayanan, Liu & Choudhary, 2009). Basically conditionals can be divided into four canonical tense patterns based on tense (Narayanan, Liu & Choudhary, 2009), including zero conditionals, first conditionals, second conditionals and third conditionals. Zero conditionals are used in describing facts or rules. First conditionals are used to express a hypothetical situation, the truth of which is unverified. Second conditionals are used to express probable situations, for stating preferences and imaginary events. Third conditionals are usually used to indicate contrary-to-fact (impossible) past events. The complexity of English conditionals is resulted from the variety of forms and the back-shifting of tense in second and third conditionals.
According to English Language Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 to 6), students are firstly taught the zero and first conditionals as a basis. After students progress to a higher level, they are taught the second and third conditionals (CDC2004).
In this paper, a critique is carried out on Miss. Wong’s teaching methods from the perceptive of pros and cons of teaching effectiveness, and then pedagogical implications are drawn from this part. To explore a more effective approach in teaching conditionals, a design of a grammar task will be the core part with a discussion on it.
Critique of the teaching case
Miss. Wong teaches conditionals in the traditional Presentation-Practice-Production pattern (PPP pattern).She explains the four types of conditionals and then gives students some related exercises. After that she checks the exercises in order to evaluate students’ understandings. If students have misunderstandings, she will further elaborate the grammar rules.
The whole teaching procedure is “focus-on-FORMS” as it involves discrete grammatical forms selected and presented in an isolated manner ,which is distinguished from “focus -on -FORM” by Long(1991), as the latter approach ought to involve the teacher’s efforts to arouse student’s attention to grammatical forms in communication context.
Miss. Wong’s teaching method needs to be analyzed from both sides to evaluate its overall effectiveness.
a. Pros of teaching effectiveness
For many EFL teachers, teaching conditionals to students who have Chinese as the first language is not an easy task not only due to the complexity of sentence types but also the negative transfer of L1 on Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Chinese has only one verb-tense pattern, and Chinese makes use of the time reference, context and internal semantic logic to differentiate the conditional types (Wu, 1994).Under this circumstance, zero and first conditionals are much easier to acquire because of the similar time references. However, the second and third...