Strand 1 - Meaning focused input: There is overwhelming evidence that comprehensible input with a few unknown items to the learner is essential for language acquisition. Paul recommends that the learners understand 95% - 98% of the words in the input with 98% being preferable. Meaning focused input can be accessed through extensive reading, communicative activities or listening to stories.
Strand 2 – Language Focused Learning: This denotes a focus on grammar and vocabulary as well as training in vocabulary strategies and intensive reading (reading involving translation).
Strand 3 – Meaning Focused Output: This is output in which the learner is trying to relay a message and is not worried about accuracy. Learners should use some unfamiliar items (at least 95% of their speech should consist of familiar items) to help them learn them.
Strand 4 – Fluency Development: Learners should read, write, listen, speak language that they already know (they should understand 99% of all items). The purpose of this strand is for learners to learn to use the language that they already know. Many Japanese, for example, know a lot of language but do now know how to use it.
For me, these 4 strands offer a good framework to use to plan English language courses. These days my mind is so jumbled that getting back to the basics and looking at the big picture of course planning was just what I needed.
Paul, of course, talked about the 4 strands in much more detail and offered many concrete examples for activities in each strand. If you are interested in learning more, please go to his website.
In the seminar, Paul also talked about learning words from cards, ways of giving quick attention to words, good and bad language learning tasks, teaching vocabulary, and word frequencies. I am writing this post on the bullet train on my way back home. I have another few deadlines coming up next week. When or if things settle down, I would like to write about using vocabulary notebooks versus using word cards and what Paul revealed about the vocabulary size necessary to read a novel in English.