Richard, K & Badaki, V. J Introduction
Until the last quarter of the 20th century, language teaching and learning was influenced by two tendencies: comparative linguistics studies of the 19th century and theories and methods of descriptive linguistics (Crystal 1994). Now there is a new perspective that stems from recent advancement in information technology which revolutionized language pedagogy such that most areas of language studies have been profoundly affected. In phonetics for instance, a new generation of instrumentation is gaining currency in auditory, acoustic and articulatory research (Crystal1994).In graphology, image scanners enable large quantities of text to be processed quickly and image enhancing techniques magnify obscure graphic patterns in old manuscripts. In grammar, huge corpora of spoken and written language make possible studies of structures in unprecedented details and in unprecedented varieties (McEnery&Wilson, 1994). Similarly, discourse analyses are both motivating and beneficial from research in human and computer interaction(). Other areas also affected include ESL research, sociolinguistics, child language acquisition studies and corpus linguistics (Meskil&Rangelova1997, Beauvois1998). In this paper, we highlight the shortcomings of the traditional approach to summary writing which is rooted in the descriptive tradition of epistemology and illustrate a new language technology tool called TOPICALIZER as a complimentary Language Teaching Strategy to language teachers. Shortcomings of the Traditional Approach to
The traditional approach to summary writing in a Second Language class, after students might have read a text, involves a number of tasks. These tasks include reading the text more than once, making notes on the main points and expanding on the notes. Chambers and Brigham (1989) argue that pedagogic defects exist in the traditional approach to the teaching of précis or summary and they advocate a shift in paradigm from the traditional praxis to a new approach called the Deletion Technique Approach (DTA). DTA is an approach to text summarization that involves “taking the original text and simply discarding any nonessential sentences, clauses, phrases or words” (Chambers and Brigham 1989).The procedure outlined for using the approach involves five (5) major steps. a)
Reading the passage and deleting all elaborations of the topic sentences. b)
Deleting all unnecessary clauses and phrases.
Deleting all extraneous lexis.
Replacing the remaining words with the students own expression. e)
Writing a fair copy.
The pedagogic import of the deletion approach is predicated on its ability to be divided into sub skills that can be graded and practiced independently by learners. Further rationale for the approach is that it is a systematic and regularized approach that provides teachers and students the opportunity to apply the principles to any passage. With the deletion techniques approach, students are active participants against their passivity when the traditional approach is adopted (Chambers & Brigham, 1989;Lopez, ).From the foregoing it is clear that DTA is an elaboration of the traditional approach where students follow a set of instructions: a) read the passage; b) make notes on the main points c) expand the notes. A similar insight on categorization of intra-sentential relationships is used in the development of the deletion technique methodology (Hoey, 1983). In testing the deletion technique approach, to verify its efficacy and subsequent application, it was observed that students performed below expectation; because of lack of shared cultural content and interest factor of the text ( Kamai & Batrobass, 2012).
An Experiment on Teaching Summary Writing...
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