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Rafaela Fonseca

ENG - 322

Mr. Patrick Lenahan

New Headway Elementary Unit 14

Discuss the New Headway English Course as an

embodiment of Harmer’s “balanced activities” methodology for
EFL teaching.

armer’s EFL Teaching Methodology is known as “the Communicative Approach”
which focus on training the students to use the language efficiently to communicate,
by getting them really involved in the activities.

It is also called “a balance activities approach” for offering a huge variety of activities to the
students in order to give them enough language input (new language stored in students’ brains)
and to get students producing language output (they use any of the language learnt to
communicate properly).

Both of the language inputs (roughly and finely-tuned) alone won’t be able to help
students to learn appropriately, once forms are stored in their brains and they will have no
“ability to retrieve these items” (classroom handout_1).

Teachers must provide situations in which students can produce what they learnt, in
different contexts (written or spoken). That’s the reason why practice exercises are of ultimate
importance and must be done very frequently. By practicing the written and the spoken forms of
the grammar, students will be able to communicate to others with some fluency, as they

Errors (language stored in the brain incorrectly) and mistakes (student knows the form
but make a ‘slip’ when producing it) have the “right timing correction”:

 For the input activities, where the forms are being presented, the correction
should happen immediately, to avoid “rooting” those errors in the student’s

 For the output activities, where the goal is to encourage students to express
themselves and to have them succeeding in fluency (although the teacher can
pay attention to their accuracy), teacher must avoid corrections so he/she won’t
destroy the “magical moment” of each student, who is trying his/her best to
communicate effectively.

Therefore, the mainly teacher’s role in this methodological approach is provide students
with different activities to promote both accuracy and fluency, which must be planned “on the
basis of achieving a balance between language input, practice and communication output”
(classroom handout_1).

14. Have you ever? 2

Present Perfect + ever, never, yet and just + At the Airport
The presentation of the Unit (page 106) has a finely-tuned input about some countries
and their flags.


Present Perfect + ever and never

The “read and listen” activities (1 and 2, page 106), are a finely-tuned input (on exercise
1, teacher can “elicit the new language from the students” – classroom handout_1). combined
with some repetition practice: students work in groups and tell each other (using the models)
about the countries they have/haven’t been to, in a “controlled drill”. After that, students have
to develop similar conversations with their partners (controlled drill), and then, tell the class
about it (page 107, exercises 3 and 4).


This finely-tuned input (page 107) explains the grammar rules for the forms given and
has an exercise where students must “complete the table” using the correct form of the verb
(students are encouraged to use the grammar they are currently learning).

Grammar Reference

Once the Present Perfect tense “is language which has been selected for conscious
learning” (classroom handout_1), this reference is a finely-tuned input on which students can
easily use for consultation (page 134).


Past Participles

These finely-tuned input activities (from 1 to 4, page 107) focus mainly on the verbs and
encourage students to immediate creativity, where they can apply the forms that they are
learning on their own answers/sentences.

The Life of Ryan

On this roughly-tuned input, students must to concentrate on the meaning of what Ryan
is saying to tick the correct answers (page 108, exercise 1).

On exercises 2, 3 and 4 (page 108), the activities are based on the principle of
substitution (“controlled practice”), where students answer teacher’s questions about Ryan and


Present Perfect + yet and just

The list of “things to do” (page 108, exercises 1, 2) is a roughly-tuned input because is
an informal reading source, followed by an informal conversation between Marilyn and her
sister, providing students contact with different kinds of materials to help them develop and
improve their language knowledge.

In a “less-controlled practice” activity, (page 109, exercises 3, 4) students make their

own sentences using a model given by the book.


Grammar Reference (page 134)

The form here presented (page 109) is a finely-tuned input, as mentioned on the
previous Grammar Spot, explaining about the correct use of the forms.


I’ve just done it

This “less-controlled” practice (page 109, exercise 1) induces students to use the list of
activities (e.g. do the washing-up) to make their own questions to their partners, based on the
book’s models.

Check it

In this “controlled” practice (page 109, exercise 2), students have only to read/listening
and tick the correct sentence.


How to live to be 100

The “communication output” makes students answer the “WH-questions” (page 110,
exercise 1) to the class. Then, a finely-tuned input appears with some new vocabulary extracted
from the text (page 110, exercise 2). The roughly-tuned input (page 110, exercise 3) it is used to
give students new language, using a different source of material, which helps students to acquire
that language unconsciously and, also, to have them extracting specific information from the
text, in case they got the meaning of the article and the exercises’ questions.

There are some “less-controlled” practice (page 110, exercises 4, 5), where students
have to give their own answers for questions about the text and compare with their groups.

What do you think?

With some more “WH-questions”, students have communication output (page 110),
although the book doesn’t explicit if students have to write their answers or tell them to the
teacher/partner. As a controller, the teacher must conduct the class as their needs.


Leaving on a jet plane

This roughly-tuned input uses a song (page 112, exercises 1 to 3) that students have to
listen to it carefully to get its meaning, followed by a “less-controlled” practice, where students
have to choose the right word to complete the lyrics, checking later if they are correct.


At the airport

On this finely-tuned input, students have to read and put sentences in the right order
(page 113, exercise 1). Then, there’s a roughly-tuned input which students must listen to the
airport announcements (a different source of material) to complete the chart (page 113, exercise

When students have to listen to the conversations (page 113, exercise 3), they are
practicing from a “controlled practice”, which is followed by an exercise to complete with the
right question (page 113, exercise 4), to a “less-controlled to free” practice (page 113, listening
T14.7), where students should have those conversations with a partner.

The task “Work with a partner. Make more conversations at each of the places” (page
113, exercise 5), it sounds like “talk to your partner about each of the places”. For this reason,
I guess a communication output plays the role here, where students could try to elaborate their
own sentences, using the language they “just” acquired, to practice to get fluency.

Analyzing the New Headway Elementary English Course book it is possible to note that
some authentic materials (a song; the airport announcements) play an important role on the
language input, once students are getting contact with different sources of materials and are
acquiring new language. Like this, students can get more interested in learning the language and
can progress in it more and more.

To start a new subject, the book presents a considerable amount of roughly-tuned input,
where students get a clue of what the Unit is about, once the focus is on the meaning of the
activity. Giving specific information about what they are listening/reading make students
improve their listening/reading ability to understand the meaning of both the text and the
activity enunciation.

Harmer says that is very necessary to “give students a lot of reading and listening”
(classroom handout_1), and this applies to this book, where you can find a huge variety of
listening/reading exercises for students to practice. As Harmer indicates, “while students are
involved in reading and listening training, in other words, they will be subconsciously acquiring
‘new’ language that appears in the text” (classroom handout_1).

The book uses a considerable amount of finely-tuned input and activities to get students
more used to the new vocabulary and for them to practice the new grammar forms. It also
makes use of plenty of controlled exercises to have students practicing what they are learning as
much as it is possible, once drills “provide intensive oral practice of selected sentences”
(classroom handout_2).

As I have chosen the New Headway Elementary book to work with, I guess that’s why
the book doesn’t present lots of communication output activities, once students are still
developing their knowledge (on the forms) and improving their vocabulary. Like this, the “WH-
questions” proposed in this Unit can have personalized answers by the students because they
have the purpose of making them answer the questions “freely”, without giving more elaborated

Analyzing this Unit, it’s possible to see that this book is much elaborated and transfers
Harmer’s “balanced activities approach” to it, even not having many communication outputs,
once it makes students to:

∗ Understand the meaning of the subject (roughly-tuned input);

∗ Acquire knowledge “unconsciously”;

∗ Learn the forms “consciously” (finely-tuned input);

∗ Get accuracy by practicing the forms with controlled exercises;

∗ Communicate freely to get fluency.

Thus, students will be able to get enough vocabulary and use them in the frames of the
grammar rules, and they will be able to communicate successfully.

New Headway Elementary Student’s Book, Oxford Press

Unit 14: pp. 106-113 + Tapescripts pp. 122-3 + Grammar Reference p. 134

Classroom Handout_1: A “balanced” EFL teaching methodology (extracted from J. Harmer,

“The Practice of English Language Teaching”)

Classroom Handout_2: Course Materials


Name and student number: Rafaela Fonseca

Assignment topic: Discuss the New Headway English Course as an embodiment of

Harmer’s “balanced activities” methodology for EFL teaching.

I declare that this assignment is my own original work. Where secondary material has
been used (either from a printed source or from the internet), this has been carefully
acknowledged and referenced in accordance with the requirements of the Department
of English. I understand what plagiarism is and am aware of the Department’s policy in
this regard.


Date: 19 of October, 2010

Telephone number: (078) 943–5363