Pacing and time allocation at the micro- and meso-level within the class hour: Why pacing is important, how to study it, and what it implies for individual lesson planning
The topic of pacing at the level of the individual class hour has received relatively little coverage in research literature. In order to provide a research-based take on the issue, the current work surveys the existing literature, develops terminology and draws a key distinction between macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of pacing, sequencing, grading, and transitioning.
In order to focus on one of pacing’s constituent sub-topics—the allocation of classroom time—this article presents a case study of a first semester college-level introductory German class at a top-tier American university. The data come from two hours of class, one each from the beginning and end of the semester, in an attempt to discover not only how pacing affects teaching synchronically but also how it might change diachronically. Utterances and gestures were transcribed in order to segment the class into activities and sub-activities, and a model for using verbal and gestural cues to perform this kind of segmentation is proposed. The paper also discusses how the teacher allocates time to different kinds of activities, considering pacing strategies that help keep students focused and “on plan” and how these pacing strategies can allow for more time and activities spent on communicative, pair-based work. It is argued that because of the case study teacher’s focus on pacing and use of various strategies to pace the class, not only researchers but also teachers might be able to generalize the micro- and meso-pacing model described in this study to the pacing of individual lessons in their own classrooms.
Keywords(micro-, meso-, and macro-) pacing, time allocation, time on-plan, class hour, lesson planning
Allwright, R. (1984). Why don't learners learn what teachers teach? The interaction hypothesis. In D. M. Singleton & D. G. Little (Eds.), Language learning in formal and informal contexts (pp. 3-18). Dublin: Irish Association for Applied Linguistics.
Bitchener, J. (2004). The relationship between the negotiation of meaning and language learning: A longitudinal study Language Awareness, 13(2), 81-95.
Chaudron, C. (1988). Second language classrooms: Research on teaching and learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cohen, A. D. (1975). Error correction and the training of language teachers. The Modern Language Journal, 59(8), 414-422.
Corrales, M. (2007). Sweetwater High School Professional Development Community: Semester 1 pacing guide: AP Spanish language [Electronic Version]. Retrieved May 6, 2008 from www.suhsd.k12.ca.us/suh/pacingguides/pacing%20guide.%20Lit.Span.pdf
De Fina, A. (1996). An analysis of Spanish bien as a marker of classroom management in
teacher-student interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 28, 337-354.
Duval Country Public Schools. (2007). Pacing guide--French level 1 (Discovering French Nouveau, Bleu) [Electronic Version]. Retrieved May 6, 2008 from www.dreamsbeginhere.org/.../acadprog/world_languages/Curriculum/French%20Level%201%20Pacing%20Guide.pdf.
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fortin, C. (2008). Elements of great class management: Four steps to a seamless lesson
[Electronic Version]. Suite101.com. Retrieved May 5, 2008 from
Foster, P., & Skehan, P. (1996). The influence of planning and task type on second language performance. Studies in Second Language ACquisition, 18, 299-323.
Gajo, L. (2008). Interaction, types de savoirs linguistiques et types de disciplines scholaires. Paper presented at the Seminaris de professorat visitant.
Gass, S. M., & Varonis, E. (1994). Input, interaction, and second language production. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16, 283-302.
Goldsmith, J. (2007). Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: New perspectives on third lanugage learning and teaching. Unpublished B.A. Thesis. Princeton University.
Goldsmith, J. (2008). Pacing and sequencing within the class hour: A case study of micro- and meso- level timing traits in the foreign language classroom. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Grimsley, G. M. (2005). Spanish AP-IB Pacing guide: Washington County Board of Education.
Hyman, R. T. (1980). Fielding student questions. Theory into practice, 19(1), 38-44.
Mackey, W. F. (1965). Language teaching analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Markee, N. (2004). Zones of interactional transition in ESL classes. The Modern Language Journal, 88(iv), 583-596.
Markee, N. (2005). The organization of off-task talk in second language classrooms. In
K. Richards & P. Seedhouse (Eds.), Applying conversational analysis.
Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mondada, L., & Pekarek Doehler, S. (2004). Second language acquisition as situated practice: Task accomplishment in the French second language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 88(iv), 501-518.
Nunan, D. (1988). Syllabus design. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nunan, D. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nunan, D. (1993). Task-based syllabus design: Selecting, grading and sequencing tasks.
In G. Crookes & S. M. Gass (Eds.), Tasks in a pedagogical context: Integrating theory and practice (pp. 55-68). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Rankin, J. (2005). The role of communicative language teaching in the classroom. Unpublished invited symposium presentation presented at Kenyon College
Robinson, P. (2001). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: Exploring interactions in a componential framework. Applied Linguistics, 22, 27-57.
Robinson, P., & Gilabert, R. (2007). Task complexity, the Cognition Hypothesis and second language learning and performance. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 45, 161-176.
Sinclair, J., & Coulthard, M. (1992). Towards an analysis of discourse. In M. Coulthard (Ed.), Advances in spoken discourse analysis (pp. 1-34). London: Routledge.
Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In S. M. Gass & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in Second Langauge Acquisition. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.
Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In G. Cook & B. Seidlhofer (Eds.), Principles & practices in applied linguistics; Studies in honor of H.G. Widdowson (pp. 125-144). Oxford: Oxford University Press.