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The Implications of Inter-language Analysis in the Development of

Materials for Teaching Speaking


Abdulmalik Y. Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

School of Education,
University Of Leeds, UK
Presented at the 8th Materials Development/MATSDA
Postgraduate Research Conference 2010
Building Bridges: Research, Materials,
Classroom Practice and Beyond
Saturday 15th May, 2010 09:30am 16:30pm
Leeds Metropolitan University
Leslie Silver International Faculty
Caedmon Hall, Headingley Campus, Leeds

This paper is looking at a triangulation and application of three knowledge
areas in the process of materials development for teaching and learning
speaking skills in a second language acquisition context.
The knowledge areas include, Inter Language Analysis (ILA), Speaking skills,
and Language materials design. The concepts of Needs Analysis (NA) and
content development will be subsumed under these broad areas as the
implications of triangulation become manifest.
We will focus on our contexts, summary of our research work, brief discussion
of basic concepts from literature, the implications for materials development
and our concluding thoughts on the work done.

Our Contexts
Expanding Circle

Outer circle

Inner circle

India, Nigeria
South Korea, China

TheThree Circles(Kachru, 1985) Fig. 1

Adapted fromCrystal, (2010 :107)


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

Our contexts

Outer Circle (Nigeria)

Expanding Circle (S. Korea)

English is the language of government,

politics, business, education,
communication and national unity.

The 6th National curriculum (Mar.1995 to

Feb.2002) made English a compulsory
subject for students from the third grade of
primary school until graduating from high
school (Kim, 2010)

Nigerian varieties: Pidgin & Educated

Nigerian English, Popular Nigerian
English (Ofemile, 2010 citing Odumuh,
1987; Jowitt, 1991)
Failure in the secondary school
certificate examination in English is
rising.(Wedell, 2010 citing Bomgbose,
2001) The result for 2010 shows that
less than 2% of candidates
passed(Ofemile, 2010)


English language is a requirement for

admission into the best Universities and for
getting the best jobs.
Learners do not get to use the language
adequately outside the classroom.
$15.3 billion expended on private lessons in
2005 (Guardian Weekly cited in Wedell,

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

Literature Review Inter-language

Vernacular style
(more pidgin-like)

speech data

Style 2


Style 3 Style 4 Style n

Careful style
(more TL/NL like)

Various elicitation tasks: elicited Grammatical

imitation,sentence-combining,etc intuition data

Inter Language continuum.(Tarone 1983:152) Fig.2

Literature Review.
Selinker (1972 cited in Davies,1989) Inter
Language (Henceforth IL) is a learners
language characterized by permeability,
dynamism, and systematicity. Thus, IL is
continually evolving with more input to the
learner and revision by the learner
(Lightbown &Spada, 2006)
IL describes the structured system constructed
by the learner at every stage of his
development. (Ellis, 1985)


'Sensitive Period Hypothesis'

Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is
possible at any age but, it is impossible
to achieve native-like competence.
(Patwoski, 2006 citing Lennenberg,
1967) Thus, IL is a continuum that
represents the learner's development.
(Fig. 2) above.
As second language speaker sand
teachers of English experience shows
that Patwoski is right but, we must add
that this however depends on several
factors like context, the relationship
between L1 and the target language,
and the learners attitude and

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

Literature Review.

Needs Analysis

Needs classified for ease of


Has been variously defined and described

(Munby, 1977; Richterich & Chancerel, 1977/1980;
Widdowson, 1984; Hutchinson & Waters, 1987;
Queeney, 1995; Jordan, 1997; Benech, 2001,
Ofemile, 2009).

McDonough, (1984)Hutchinson and Waters,

(1987); Mushare, (1992) and Benesch,

From the above we deduced that NA has the

following properties.

It is a learner-centered process

It involves data collection and processing

It provides information on the design,

implementation and evaluation of learning

The learning experiences meet the needs of the

learners, Institutions, and Society.


For our purpose,'Target needs (what a learner

will do in order to learn). Learning needs
(what the learner will do in a target situation)
Hutchinson and Waters, (1987) will suffice
because they help give focus to the paper.

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

Literature Review.

Speaking skill in context

Speaking overlaps with many areas of

language. It can be seen as an aspect
of production or from the social aspects
ie attitudes towards productive skills.
(Hughes, 2002)
our understanding of Hughes goes thus:
As an aspect of production, spoken
discourse is context dependent, usually
unplanned, transient, uses oral/aural
media and is dynamic.

From the social aspect, spoken

discourse is perceived as an interpersonal locus of change, that is
informal, rhetorical, stigmatized and a
primary form of language.


We believe that these are the qualities and

functions of spoken discourse. Just as
in writing, learners learn to speak and
speak to learn and we believe that
there is a parallel here with
'competence and performance'.

The first refers to skill acquisition while the

second refers to the ability to use the
skill in the 'target situation'. A
combination of the two provide what
Harmer, (2007) calls 'rehearsal
opportunities' to use the language for a
purpose and as a skill.

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

Literature Review.

Materials Design

It is a process that begins with

identification of competences or needs
assessment, then determining goals
and objectives, conceptualizing
content, and finally, selecting and
developing materials and
activities.(Graves, 1996)
This view sees material development as
an integral part of course development.

Tomlinson(2005)citing Jolly and Bolitho

(1998:97-8) presents a framework that
focuses on procedures for developing
materials thus:
Identification of need for materials
Exploration of need
Contextual realization of materials
Pedagogical realization of materials
Production of materials

Student use of materials

Evaluation of materials against agreed


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim

Literature Review.

We find this framework most useful because it is systematic, coherent purposeful and
flexible. This review has given a mulch-dimensional insights to this paper.

We will now go further to give a comparative analysis of our researches in IL.


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


Research Analysis

The Learners' Background

The Research Tasks

Korean(Lee) an Engineer and a

Nigerian (Nkiru) a teacher. We are
using Pseudonyms

The subjects were expected to:

Lee speaks Korean and English. He

learned English in Korea and Canada,
rarely uses English at work but his
composition skills are good.

Narrate or re-tell a story

Talk about themselves

Relate an experience that is of

significance to them.

Nkiru speaks Igbo,a smattering of

Yoruba, pidgin English, Popular
Nigerian English, and Standard British
English. She is a post-graduate student
in the UK.


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


Research Analysis


Data Collection

Ascertain their linguistic

competences in the use of
English language in

We used unstructured
interviews recorded
using Skype over three
interview sessions.

Ascertain their Listening and

speaking skills.
Identify areas of deficiencies


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


Research Analysis (Research Methodology)

Data Analysis

Results were classified under:

Recorded interviews
were converted into
transcripts using voice


We analyzed data obtained using

Canale's (1983) framework of
communicative competence.


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim



Nkiru's pronunciation was
good with an intermediate
level of fluency.
However, she commits local
errors attributable to
transfers from L1 e.g.
Omission of sounds like /t/ in
Lee also has good
pronunciation but, he
displays a mixed grill of


In one instance, he correctly

articulates and distinguishes
between the sounds /r/ and
/l/ in words like 'generally'.
However, when these
sounds occur in individual
words, he switches them as
in 'actualy' articulated as /ri:/.
Other sounds include /v/ as
/b/ and /z/ as /dz/. These
sounds do not exist in

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim





Nkiru's mastery of sentence formation is

very good. She was able to place
morphemes in their proper positions to
make sentences.

Lee on the other hand, displayed a

good level of competence in the use of
present tense but, his use of past tense
and articles (a, the) were inaccurate
while copula and regular 'be' forms
were ommited. Examples include 'Ah,
he style very strong'; 'I think he
increase economy better now'


Nkiru code mixes registers (e.g. 'eba'

'fufu') with English language. She uses
interjections and discourse particles
like 'aho' (what do I care or how do I
know) from Nigerian languages in her
expressions. Her choice of words are
varied and her repertoire of words very
Lee shows a limited choice of words which
maybe an indication of the level of his
development in the language.

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim



He is able to express his feelings about

issues albeit in a confusing manner.


Nkiru displayed an appreciable level of

proficiency in pragmatic skills. She was
able to employ formulaic expressions
without depending on them, interpret
requests, recognize and respond to
conversation starters,employ coconstructions to complete clauses as
well as use a mixture and shift in tense
'complicating action'.(Ofemile, 2009,

For example, he calls a 'puppy' 'baby dog'.

This is a transfer from a Korean near
equivalent expression 'kae saeki'. This
is an attempt (Harmer,2007)that has
pragmatic implications. The expression
is considered a solecism in Korean
culture and it is to an extent
nonsensical in English.

Lee used and relied on formulaic

expressions like 'I studied...' but, his
discourse skills are good which can be
attributed to a positive transfer from


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


We believe that ILA has implications for
material development in the following

Needs analysis

Types of materials ie classification


Contextual focus

Needs Analysis.
ILA employs approaches that are
systematic and empirically established
by a careful accumulation and analysis
of data e.g. Canale's framework. These
approaches are universally acceptable,
they account for variations across IL
sub-systems (phonology, grammar,
vocabulary & pragmatics), and they are
internally consistent, parsimonious and
elegant, (Tarone, 1989).
NA tries to get information about the
learners' perceptions of their needs
and how others perceive them


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim



Needs Analysis

In view of the scientific and pragmatic nature of IL, we believe that it may be used to
strengthen the process of identification and elaboration of needs in materials
development. Errors or language variations identified will now become the learners'
needs. For example, our studies observed that the subjects need more pragmatic
knowledge of English language to function and communicate effectively, thus,
content design will include politeness, turn taking in conversation, or even elements
of interaction in English language discourse.

Apart from that IL can be used as a lead on to other aspects of NA in materials

development using the steps recommended below, (Fig 3).


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


IL strengthens data gathering processes in Needs Analysis

STEP 1.....
STEP 2.....

Set Speech Context

Set Interaction Objectives

STEP 3.......
STEP 4.......
STEP 5......

Frame specific Questions

STEP 6......

Needs Identification & Evaluation

Administration (Interviews)

Fig 3

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


IL strengthens data gathering processes in Needs Analysis

Step 1: Determined by the

communicative function of the language
bearing in various contexts (Tarone, 1988)

Step 2:the purpose of the study

should be set in a favourable linguistic
environment.e.g. assessing the extent of
linguistic competence in spoken English.
(Ofemile, 2010, Kim 2010; Schumann,
1978b, Ellis, 1984a)

Step 3: Frame interview questions

bearing in mind socio-situational factors like
Tarone's (1988) social and pedagogical
norms that may or may not conflict with the
learner's background. (See Ellis, 1992
citing Lardiere, 2007)


Step 4: spontaneous recordings of

speech by researcher, unstructured
interviews, pre-planned sociolinguistic
interactions to check 'observer paradox'
(Labov, 1972 cited in Tarone, 1988;

Step 5:Focused analysis of transcribed

spoken data using accepted theoretical
standards e.g. Canale's four aspects of
communicative competence.

Step 6: NA strategies are used in

assessing linguistic competences or
incompetence identified. Such strategies will
include comparing the learner's linguistic
performance with the accepted expected
standard. A variance analysis will yield
further the learner's needs at the evaluation

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


Types of materials


Input from ILA will help in raising teachers'

and learners' awareness about ESL
settings, methods and materials
development. This will help in the
inclusion of contextualized learning
activities, strategies and exercises in
classroom speaking materials and
resources that can promote interaction
in the target language. (Ofemile,2010;
citing Jianda, 2008; Ellis, !987; Kim,

We are of the opinion that ILA input can

help in evaluating these materials in an
empirical manner. This idea becomes
relevant here since materials now
include electronic resources like
podcast, voice recorders, voice chats,
video chats, CD/DVD, mp3, mp4 and
other web based resources. ILA is
used to identify learner needs and
these materials and resources will be
employed to give tasks that will remedy

This implies that ILA input can aid the

decision about the type and function of
speaking material to be developed e.g
paper based or electronic; classwork,
examination, or which specific learner
need to meet.

Thus, materials will be assessed for

'learnability, Efficiency, Memorability,
Errors and satisfaction'

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


This evaluation will simply ascertain
whether or not the speaking material is
easy to learn, efficient to use, easy to
remember, allows the learner to
commit only a few errors, and is
pleasant to use.(Nielson, 1993).

From experience, we find that these

factors to a large extent determine the
level of interaction that can be
generated in the classroom. Thus, a
positive result implies high interaction
between the learner and the material
and a negative indicates poor
interaction with no learning taking


Contextual focus
Finally, we believe that the role of ILA in
the future development of English
language as an international language
will become more pronounced. This
belief is based upon the striking
similarities that occurred in the results
of our independent researches of
learners that represent the outer circle
and expanding circle.
Secondly, Graddol's (2010) futuristic
axioms about India, which we find in
view of the results above to be
increasingly relevant to our research

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


These are summarized thus;

There is a major shift towards English

There are three main drivers for

English has escaped from the library

Sustained economic growth requires

more English speakers

National Improvement in English is too


English is a casualty of wider problems

in Indian(Nigerian, Korean) education

There is a huge shortage of English

teachers, and


8.Surveys of English proficiency levels are

needed. (Graddol 2010,14-15).
Material developers will continually
have to bear in mind this ever widening
contexts and ILA has the potential of
presenting critical data for those
designers who desire to promote
mutually intelligible materials for
teaching and learning speaking or oral
communication in English language

Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


This paper has looked at the influence of ILA on
materials development based on studies carried
out in two contexts. We must quickly add that, we
interviewed only one subject each and in three
events and to these extents can the results be
generalized. However, we think that more of
these studies are needed in other contexts with
other specifications to build a body of knowledge
in preparation for a future which is very near.


Abdulmalik Ofemile & Choonmi Kim


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