“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
• Albert Einstein
There are several worldwide instructive approaches introduced by expert language proponents for language teaching. Presentation- Practice -Production (PPP) is one among the widely-used methods for grammar instructions. It is a traditional approach but its employment shouldn’t be taken for granted; careful planning is needed for its expediency. Its rudiments direct teachers to enable learning by stimulating learners’ ascending thinking levels through lessons’ well- defined objectives while they are entrenched in its three stages.
In PPP, teaching can be effective when the target language is controlled. Therefore, limiting language expressions as subject matters such as “is, are, am; there is and there are; this, these, that and those; can and can’t; can and could; may and might; proper nouns and common nouns, count and non-count nouns, active and passive modes, positive and negative statements, negative and positive questions with yes -no responses, zero conditional versus first conditionals,” among numerous lessons based from the language program’s sequenced outline being managed. At this juncture, learners need to be defined. Defining learners is teachers’ awareness of students’ comprehension levels, age, nationality and culture where the creation of tasks designs and examples to facilitate effective teaching are primarily based upon.
Teaching grammar structures through the PPP can be more operative when we associate instructive language expressions to students’ real-world environment. By linking natural contexts, their interests are being drawn or stimulated by prior knowledge and experiences. Matters such as their hobbies, films they mostly watch, travels in other countries, favorite actors from around the world, favorite games, happiest and scariest dreams, historical events they are conscious about other countries, folk and country English songs that they listen to, and more can be suggested as thematic backgrounds for students tend to be responsive in class activities when situations they are closely connected to are manipulated. Also, providing these kinds of frameworks reduce students’ learning passivity which is mainly due to lack of interest or absence of knowledge.
PPP’s fundamentals are explicated here in two separate ways. (A) One is through using different language targets in each stage to explain its underlying rudiments, and (B) the other is by an intertwined single target language interconnected to its three stages.
A. PPP Application in different language targets
In the presentation stage, language target is stimulated by demonstration strategies adopted by a teacher’s discretion. The students are expected to observe how new languages are generated from a teacher’s varied way of presenting. It is a fact that it isn’t suitable to feed students directly what their new lessons are. In here, it is favorable to hear teacher say, “We have a new grammar lesson today that connects to your favorite sports players around the world”. “Can you tell me the names of your favorite players?” rather than saying, “We will learn about common nouns and proper nouns.” “Your favorite sports players are actually proper nouns.” Presentation should incorporate discovery method which may take place by the introduction of tasks associated by supporting materials such as pictures, timeline, real objects, cited situations, a film clip depending on teachers’ discretion. At the end of this stage, the students will be aware of the target language, its initial rules and structures, which they themselves have inferred.
Secondly, practice stage is done after the students have discovered the language’s features. Based from a teacher -prepared activities, they apply the rules and structures. Presuming that our lessons are on singular and plural nouns, we can review these to highlight what they have learned in the presentation by having them cite nouns that they see in the second picture and have them list all the words in two columns according to names of things and persons. The students may be tasked to identify each word which is singular and plural from the two original columns that they have constructed enabling them to produce two additional columns: singular and plural nouns for people, singular and plural nouns for places, as facilitated. Together, in each column, the class transforms the words into singular or plural forms. Depending upon the availability of time, the teacher can further introduce some exceptions to the general rules on the different pluralization of nouns. Probably, the teacher provides an activity that demonstrates some nouns whose plural forms aren’t ending in ‘-s’ or ‘-es.’ For instance: child- children, cactus-cacti, radius-radii, memorandum-memoranda, woman-women, man-men, mouse-mice, goose-geese. Additionally, the teacher may feature some uncountable nouns such as: milk, sugar, cheese, salt, tea, coffee, bread and many other examples.
Production is a stage where students’ prior grammar knowledge along with acquired knowledge from the two stages are incorporated under given tasks to display an over-all learning outcome. It is recommended that the production activities should relate to reality for communicative purposes. Assuming that the target language is the present continuous with future meanings, the teacher may ask the students on what they are going to do this afternoon to be answered in complete sentences. The expected responses will be an application of the language’s earlier introduced formula, which is present be-verb + a verb in the -ing form + future time. At this point, the students are expected to produce an example by being specific about be- verbs. It is in this situation that the students are made to opt between ‘is,’ ‘are,’ and ‘am’ although generally, they were using ‘is’ or ‘are’ in the practice stage. Additionally, since the question is about them individually, they have to decide which subject they are going to employ. To add, they will also have to decide which part of speech they are going to use. And since, ‘I’ have been decided, they are aware that pronoun is going to be used specifically the subject pronouns, instead of picking up a subject from nouns. In conjunction to these stimulating activity, students’ cognitive ability continuous to work importantly. Therefore, the expected outputs will be sentences that are introduced by “I am” As an example, “I am meeting my friend this afternoon,” “I am traveling to Islamabad tonight.” Similar to other language focuses, the students are encouraged to manipulate the language expressions for whatever purpose they may truly serve through the integration of the target language’s forms and rules reinforced by their prior knowledge which maybe added with new related language to be processed when follow-up activities such as homework and other forms of enrichment exercises are provided.
B. PPP application in an intertwined single lesson
The most practical way to understand PPP is to perceive it in its three intertwined stages through an explicit lesson that showcases a single language focus along with its corresponding activities to be demonstrated in ascending manner. Below is an example of its application.
PPP will be elucidated through an interactive dialogue between a teacher and students with responses as upshots from the given tasks followed by commentaries that feature some practical learning processes’ significance which conceivably recommend some supportive measures in attempting to achieve an operative employment of this method.
The target language is “used to” and the teacher is mindful that the class has already learned some grammatical points such as subject pronouns, subject-verb agreement and past simple verb forms in support to the new lesson which means that in an institutional language course outline, the lessons are sequenced appropriately according to the learning needs of students.
At the end of a 50-minute session, the students are expected to:
1. determine the use of the expression “used to”,
2. use ‘used to’ to transform sentences which are expressed in the simple past,
3. employ ‘used to’ in sharing their previous out-of-school activities,
4. write a paragraph regarding their experiences using the expression, and
5. enhance students” grammatical ability and creativity through expressing ideas in the past differently.
Objectives provide very substantial roles in every lesson. Though we cannot cover all the intended outcomes in one lesson, the objectives should cater to a specific type of lesson by involving the three domains of objectives- cognitive, psychomotor and affective. Specifically, “determine,” ‘use,’ ’employ’ are indicators of cognitive objectives. ‘Write’ represents psychomotor and cognitive while ‘enhance’ signify affective. All these stated objectives are expected to be attained in applying the approach involving, “used to” in a class’ featured series of activities. These specific objectives become students’ performance indicators at the end of the teaching process.
Stage 1: Presentation
Teacher: Every one of you must have enjoyed your childhood similar to Munawar’s experiences when he was a schoolboy in Lahore. Listen, to some of his unforgettable activities that he used to do at the age of ten in Pakistan.
climbed apple trees
went hunting with his father
played cricket with friends
read storybooks at the library
picked fruits during harvest time
helped his parents in the farm
prayed together with his father at the mosque
Teacher: All your answers are displayed on the board. Do you observe something at the end of every response?
Student: There is no punctuation. I mean, there’s no full stop.
Teacher: Yes, what else do you see? See all the beginning words of these answers.
Student: They are not capitalized.
Teacher: Right. Why aren’t they capitalized and punctuated?
Student: We only capitalize and punctuate them when they are sentences.
Teacher: Am I made to understand that these responses are not sentences?
Even if the lessons are not on punctuation and capitalization, these significant points that popped up have to be processed. It is also in this setting when students are given the chance to determine the differences between a phrase and a sentence. These add to their basic knowledge which may guide them in language acquisition skills. It is a teacher’s responsibility to integrate these important points since these are natural teaching occurrences that surfaced currently in the middle of a teaching process. The teacher should never presume that the class knew about these relevant points for there could be more students waiting to absorb the right rudiments through a teacher’s elaboration. One student’s doubt which was never raised for some reasons could answer many students’ hesitations under these circumstances.
Teacher: Let’s get back again to what you have listened to about Munawar’s childhood activities. What did he do? Let’s change Munawar into another form. What should we use to represent Munawar? Go back to the subject pronouns and choose appropriately the word that we are going to use as a subject.
Student: “He” should be used.
Teacher: That’s right. Why do you think it is “he?”
Students: Munawar is singular and he’s a male.
Teacher: Exactly. This time, will I capitalize and punctuate using a full stop? Why should I capitalize and punctuate?
Students: Yes. We have made sentences. For this reason, we need to capitalize the beginning words and place a full stop at the end of every statement.
He climbed apple trees.
He went hunting with his father
He played cricket with friends.
He watched TV with his family before going to sleep.
He picked fruits during harvest time.
He helped his parents in the farm.
He prayed together with his father at the mosque.
Teacher: What do you notice in each verb from the sentences?
Students: They are all written in the past form?
Teacher: What made you say so?
Student: The verbs end in- ed.
Teacher Why should we place -ed at the end of every verb?
Students: They happened when he was a child. These action words were done in the past.
Teacher: Also, you will notice that one past simple verb is of different form.
What is this word? Recall your previous lesson about the types of verbs.
Students: It’s an irregular verb.
Teacher: Can we accept this verb?
Student: It also expresses past simple.
Teacher: Can you give more examples of these irregular verbs?
students’ answers on irregular verbs
Teacher: Okay. Can we possibly write these sentences in another way?
What about inserting ‘used to’ before the verb in every sentence that we have made?
Students: Yes, we can.
Teacher: You are correct. Write your new sentence beside each sentence. Add ‘used to’ before the verbs but the main verbs should be changed into the present simple.
He climbed apple trees. He used to climb apple trees
He went hunting with his father. He used to go hunting with his father.
He played cricket with friends. He used to play cricket with friends.
He watched TV with his family before going to sleep. He used to watch TV with his family before going to sleep.
He picked fruits during harvest time. He used to pick fruits during harvest time.
He helped his parents in the farm. He used to help his parents in the farm.
He prayed together with his father at the mosque. He used to pray together with his father at the mosque.
Teacher: Looking at your second group of answers, do you see how each sentence in every number differ from the first group according to verb forms?
Students: Yes, the first group made has past simple while the other was changed into present simple form.
Teacher: What made the changes of the past simple verbs in your second sentences?
Students: “Used to” made the changes in the verbs into present simple.
Teacher: We all know that the verbs in the first group of sentences are in the past form, and this means all of them were done in the past. When we made another group of sentences, we added ‘used to’ but we have written all the verbs into simple present form. Have we done these changes correctly?
Students: Yes, we have. When we placed ‘used to’, we are similarly rewriting the ideas in the past form in another way.
Teacher: Now, are they the same in terms of tense? Do the pairs have the same meanings?
Students: Yes, they do.
Teacher: Aside from using the simple past form to express completed actions in the past, what else can we use?
Students: We can write “used to + the base form of the verb.”
Teacher: Yes, it is accurate to use ‘used to + the base form of the verb’ to express actions that happened in the past.
The salient points to be observed in here are the utilization of previous knowledge of the language, close linkage of objectives to target language, interconnections of objectives in all activities with the inclusion of motivation. The presentation should be inductive for the students to infer instead of utilizing the deductive method. In using the inductive method, students will have the opportunity to figure out what language is to be learned and how do their structures to suit a specific rule or a general rule which they will soon discover. Also, application of prior language could be relevant as demonstrated by the substitution of subjects. Prior knowledge utilization is a form of refreshing them regarding the importance of previously learned languages. In here, they were given the opportunity to identify the order of the expressions in language constructions. To add, this stage directed learners to form a formula of their own which will guide them to perform series of exercises by stages.
There are some exceptions to the formation of past tense for irregular verbs. If it comes out, it is best to process its salient points in preparation for the practice and production. This should be reinforced by adding additional activities in the presentation.
Stage 2: Practice
Teacher: Let’s have more exercises to further understand the lesson. Here is a list of what a film director did when he filmed a movie in Quetta. Write them in complete sentences using the past simple form and changed each by adding ‘Use to.’
booked his crew in a hotel
talked to the mayor of the town
hired some extra cameramen
gathered other citizens to act as bit players
organized the actors schedules
gave time for performers to read their scripts
threw a party before going back home
He booked his crew in a hotel. He used to book his crew in a hotel
He talked to the mayor of the town. He used to talk to the mayor of the town.
He hired some extra cameramen. He used to hire some extra cameramen.
He gathered other citizens to act as bit players. He used to gather other citizens to act as bit players.
He organized the actors’ schedules. He used to organize the actors’ schedules.
He gave time for performers to read their scripts. He used to give time for performers to read their scripts.
He threw a party before going back home. He used to throw a party before going back home.
It is pertinent that the teacher stimulates the thinking of the students after the transformed examples as reinforcement of the presentation stage. Repetition is a form of reinforcement and a form of meaningful exercise since the students’ are made to think while they perform. After the activities, elaboration of the rudiments of this language focus is of high importance.
When “used to” is used, the original verb form from as simple past has to be in a simple present. It is advisable to have the students discover the changes. Their inference will be a great aid in retaining knowledge. The teacher’s role is only to trigger their ability to infer regarding the verb structure. At this juncture, a teacher is discouraged to feed thoughts directly to the students.
In real communication practices, these two expressions: past simple and ‘used to’ may be mixed up. It is best to emphasize that it is possible to occur. Every student should be aware that what they learned in the classroom are models and that they can be modified in a natural communication whether they are used orally or in written manner.
Stage 3: Production
Teacher: What about you, can you still recall your past activities years ago? Together with your seatmate, list what both of you used to do. Write them in a simple past verb and be able to transform these sentences using ‘used to.’ You will have three types of lists. Both students will deliver a talk about the tasks that they have completed. Help each other in forming the lists.
possible students’ list one (1) no subject with simple past
watched our favorite TV show every day
played football in the field
visited my friends twice
had picnics at the family park
went to Dammam every week
toured Bahrain once a month
travelled to Riyadh City with our cousins.
possible students’ list two (2) pluralized subject with simple past
We watched our favorite TV show every day.
We played football in the field.
We visited my friends twice.
We had picnics at the family park.
We went to Dammam every week.
We toured Bahrain once a month.
We travelled to Riyadh City with our cousins.
possible students’ list three (3) – pluralized subject with expression ‘used to’ replacing simple past.
We used to watch our favorite TV show every day.
We used to play football in the field.
We used to visit my friends twice.
We used to have picnics at the family park.
We used to go to Dammam every week.
We used to tour Bahrain once a month.
We used to travel to Riyadh City with our cousins
Teacher: Get back to list number one and share your ideas.
Students: List number one is introduced by simple verbs.
Teacher: Yes, that’s right. What have you noticed in list number two?
Students: There is a specified subject in each sentence.
Teacher: Correct. The phrases were completed as sentences. Are list number three and number two the same when it comes to tenses?
Teacher: Now, as a homework, make a timeline of five exciting things that you did last summer by using dates and past simple verbs or ‘used to’. Write them in a paragraph form by following the parts of a paragraph that we have practiced a week ago.
Students were able to form the simple pasts independently, decided the subject to be used and substituted the simple pasts into ‘used to’ by enumerating experienced actions. These imply that students learning in the cognitive way is manifested in the production. Their ability to manipulate the language’s structures and rules through the tasks denote their expanding level of order thinking skills stemming from the presentation and practice stage. It is therefore encouraged that teachers can make the production stage operational by using series of interlinked activities in contexts even if this particular stage is similar to how they intertwined their lessons from the two previous stages. Provision of these activities allows them more opportunities to manipulate currently learned language targets and to apply formerly learned language contents.
Homework is a kind of production resulting to outputs that reinforce or enrich what they have learned. It is also recommended that language a newly learned focus must be integrated with the introduction of a new focus such as giving dates as time expressions. Date can indicate past actions and these are additional language expressions which they can work on in natural communication setting. Moreover, encouraging production’s favorable effects may proliferate among learners when they apply languages that are anchored to their real-life experiences.
There are no easy approaches to use in language teaching even if they seem to be. Teachers have to define their learners and apply some adjustments. Approaches are not done mechanically but rather flexibly based from students’ level and from the readiness of resources. Lessons’ objectives should be realized in the teaching process. Teaching experiences reveal that within a method, a strategy arises. It is also relevant to do some reflections regrading objectives that lead to learning directions. Do your activities relate with the objectives? Are they introduced by the input material? Are they confined in your desired setting? Are these manifested under teacher and students’ roles? Do they connect to the target language? Are they implied in the outputs? If they do, then PPP could be a viable method in your classrooms.