Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT): Teaching Phonics to EFL Learners Using The Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM)
Assisting learners to acquire clear and correct pronunciation undoubtedly helps them communicate better and gain confidence when speaking English. Pronunciation in the EFL/ESL classroom is a skill often neglected, especially in the Asian context. One reason for this, as highlighted by Pennington (2021), was the lack of a coherent strategy for pronunciation teaching in school curricula. The Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM), as developed by Calhoun (1998), is essentially a methodological strategy which uses pictures to simultaneously teach several language skills as an integrated whole. It begins by emphasizing the phonetic and structural components of language. By using PWIM learners see an object and listen to the teacher's pronunciation of a description of the object, followed by their pronunciation practice of the word(s) in order to reinforce word recognition. This research is aimed at exploring whether the use of (PWIM) offers any advantages in improving learners understanding of phonics. The researcher used PWIM in teaching phonics to 15 learners aged between 9 to 12 in a language school in central Taiwan. The course itself consisted of 10 lessons over a period of five weeks. Each lesson lasted an hour and there were two lessons per week. Each lesson covered a vowel sound (long and short a, e, i, o, u) adapted from the book titled Fun Learning with K.K. & Phonics (Chen, 2018). This research was conducted as Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT), which is an approach which seeks to provide learners with a natural context for language use. While they work to complete a task, they have ample opportunity to interact. The research was designed to obtain data on outcomes both quantitatively and qualitatively through semi-structured interviews, field notes made during the lessons and the scores collected from 10 quizzes. The outcome was positive and encouraging in that PWIM, presented through TBLT, was shown to have the potential to enhance learners' English phonics. It also showed that it reduced classroom boredom and participation anxiety in a language learning context. The learner participants agreed they were more motivated and engaged in the lessons as they completed assigned tasks. PWIM made their pronunciation learning more accessible and memorable through the image association function. The participants appeared to be more confident in their recognition of the English sound by looking at the images of the words in the assignments. The combination of the PWIM and TBLT can therefore benefit pronunciation teaching methodologies and assessment, particularly in pre-service teacher training activities.It could also provide information and guidance for curriculum designers as they engage in syllabus design accommodating the personal and future needs of their students.
Keywords - PWIM, Task-based Language Teaching, Phonics, EFL/ESL.