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Modern Education

Features and conditions of implementation of redundancy of educational information in teaching non-linguistic students a foreign language

Flerov Oleg Vladislavovich

PhD in Pedagogy

Head of Academic Department, Institute of Economics and Industrial Management

105203 Russia, Moscow, 15th Parkovaya street, 8

Other publications by this author










Abstract: In this paper, the issues of modeling the real communicative foreign language environment in the conditions of the institutional educational process by means of redundancy of foreign language information are considered. The role and place of this phenomenon in pedagogical science and in educational practice are designated and justified. The specific conditions and specifics of the redundancy application are considered. Thus, the object of the study is a communicative-oriented language–forming process, and the subject is the modeling of redundancy in it by foreign language means. In the paper, the author substantiates the redundancy of information as a permanent property of the modern communicative environment, which determines the importance of modeling information redundancy in modeling real social communication in the educational process. The novelty of the work lies in the consideration of information redundancy as a regulatory idea claiming to be a local private didactic principle in language teaching in the context of institutional education. Thus, the proposed work fills a gap in research on communicative language learning, in which the redundancy of foreign language information is positioned as something taken for granted and certainly positively affects the process of mastering them. As the main conclusion, the author comes to the position that the redundancy of information can claim the role of a particular didactic principle in modern language education because of its conceptuality on the one hand and specific methodological expression on the other.


information redundancy, foreign-language information, immersion method, intensive learning, teaching principle, institutional education, lexicon, differentiation principle, feasibility principle, linguo-education

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

It is widely known that the open global communication and information space, which began to develop back in the 2000s, and finally established itself in the last decade, has changed the teaching of foreign languages almost more than other subjects or disciplines. Although, of course, digital technologies have changed the face of the whole education, but in the case of foreign languages, it is necessary to talk about essential and conceptual changes, and not just purely technological ones. The fact is that if we compare the technological appearance of the modern world with what it was at the end of the last century, it is not difficult to notice that it is in the development of technologies that ensure the transmission of information that humanity has stepped the most far.

It is also axiomatic that information is always inextricably linked with language, because it is recorded and encoded with its help. In fact, language learning is the teaching of information transmission, it is for this reason that new spatial and temporal possibilities and conditions in which information exists and is transmitted today have become the main factor in the emergence of new paradigms in the methodology of language teaching.

In this case, we are talking about communication, practice-orientation and universality of learning from the point of view of understanding that language proficiency is necessary not only for those for whom it is the main profession, but also for any modern person.

So it is fair to say that the relevance of this research lies in the theoretical and practical need to develop ideas about modeling the information and communication environment that was finally established in the 2010s within the framework of the classical institutional pedagogical process to find new ways of teaching foreign languages. The institutional, in particular university, linguistic educational process has a number of objective limitations of both spatial-temporal and organizational-administrative nature, which actualizes the possibilities of maximum use and activation of the didactic arsenal for the implementation of communicative language teaching in its space.

Taking into account the ideas outlined above, the purpose of this work is to substantiate the redundancy of foreign language information as a principle of working with educational material in foreign language classes with students of a non-linguistic training profile for the implementation of the communicative educational paradigm provided for, among other things, by the state standard. This goal involves solving such tasks as: substantiation of information redundancy as a phenomenon peculiar to the modern communicative environment and the principle of modeling the latter in the educational process; substantiation of the need for pedagogical management of information redundancy in the classroom; identification of conditions for the effective use of information redundancy in working with students, identification of features and possible errors of the teacher's work in this direction, as well as promising ways of further research and methodological developments in this problem field.

            The problematic of this article implies that it is primarily about the redundancy of educational information. On the other hand, given the specifics of a foreign language as a discipline, it is impossible not to admit that within its framework the boundaries of educational and general social information are as blurred as possible.

             This is due to the fact that modern communicative teaching of a foreign language is not possible without mastering authentic materials. The latter include any text works created by native speakers of the studied language for the same native speakers (newspapers, magazines, media, blogs, social media materials, etc.). These information objects themselves are not initially teaching tools, but act as such, integrating into the language-education process. Of course, new material in them is most often found in excess quantities.In the practice of communicative language teaching, the benefit of information redundancy is reduced to the idea that it is necessary to give students more material than the specific pedagogical situation requires for maximum activation of cognitive and personal resources in the educational process, as well as for its intensification.

For the same reason, it is also key to the theory of intensive learning, which is quite popular nowadays. The practical benefit in this case follows from the fact that in an effort to assimilate all the proposed material, the student, even if he masters, say, three quarters, in the end, the amount of knowledge gained will still be greater than in the absence of redundant information.

The wide and universal application of this idea, as well as its modifications in various modern theories and practices of language teaching, allow, in our opinion, to talk about the redundancy of information (hereinafter simply redundancy) as a specific private didactic principle.

In modern language education, the importance of redundancy is also great because it brings the educational space as close as possible to the real everyday information environment, including a foreign language, in which a person receives more information due to increasing information channels than his real intellectual need dictates. So, in fact, it contributes to the modeling of a real foreign language space in the educational process.

These conditions have long been recognized as an objective reality of the digital age and actualize information competence as a set of qualities that allow you to work effectively with information in conditions of its overabundance. So this principle goes in unison with the competence-based paradigm of language teaching, which is also recognized as the leading one today.

On the basis of the redundancy of information today, in fact, any linguistic educational practices related to immersion in a foreign language environment are being built one way or another. This includes classes with native speakers, and the organization of exchange training, a variety of intensive trainings, etc.. Redundancy of information as the central concept of its methodology is represented by the very well-known Moscow Center for the study of languages "Freedom of Speech".

In scientific works, redundancy is mentioned today, in fact, only in relation to intensive training, including foreign language.

The author of the theory of intensive language learning, G.A. Kitaygorodskaya, writes that any language course focused on the tasks of teaching everyday communication should be built taking into account redundancy due to the fact that "the need for a large volume of vocabulary is dictated not only by the learning goals, but also by the well-known phenomenon that could be called economy. It lies in the fact that if we build a course of study on a dictionary of 2500 units, we can expect that there will be no more than 1200 – 1500 units in the active vocabulary of students ... for the full participation of the individual in the communication process, she should be given a choice of means, i.e. the choice of those modal, emotional options that correspond to personal the qualities of this trainee". [3, pp. 20-21]

B.R. Mandel points to redundancy as a manifestation of the nonlinearity of the pedagogical structure in intensive training. [4, p. 30] The authors of the monograph "Methods of teaching foreign languages: traditions and modernity" note that redundancy can be considered a requirement for the selection of teaching content, since it "creates real conditions for the implementation of differentiation and even an individual approach. [7, p. 33] V.V. Mancheva, analyzing the basics of intensive foreign language teaching in her work, notes that "the redundancy of the material provides greater communicative freedom." [5, p. 47] However, for example, A.O. Ovsyannikov notes that the redundancy of the material due to mental overload can give the opposite effect to the desired effect. This author suggests batch structuring of the material as a solution to this problem. [8, p. 164] The practical experience of such authors as D.D. Dmitrieva, N. E. Petrova, A. P. Sklifus, on the contrary, shows that redundancy within the framework of solving certain tasks should be minimized at all. [1, c. 213, 9, c.149]

If we talk about the most modern research, in particular, on the elibrary platform, there are articles that address certain aspects of redundancy in our problem field. [2, 10, 11]

In this paper, we adhere to the position that redundancy, although it is a positive factor in learning, is still not unambiguous, and cannot certainly be considered as such.

We also believe that redundancy as an educational phenomenon can be analyzed in a broader pedagogical problem field. Firstly, today any foreign language teaching is more or less intensive, probably due to the more intense rhythms of life in the digital age. Today, people who start learning a language are hardly ready to wait for a long time – I want to see the results, even if they are intermediate, right away. If we talk about the institutional training of students, but a small number of hours of classroom classes, actually acts as an external factor of intensification.

In addition, if redundancy has proven its effectiveness within the framework of intensive training practice, the question of what and under what conditions it can give to ordinary training is of some interest. Nevertheless, there are no works in which redundancy would be an independent subject of research, yet.

Despite the fact that, as we noted above, redundancy in teaching practice is often actually a natural manifestation of immersion in a foreign language environment, it is not entirely accurate to identify it only with immersion. It is known that the immersion method is actually a modern modification of the natural method of teaching foreign languages in which a non-native language is mastered as in the native language from an early age, that is, one hundred percent by means of live communication without or almost without special didactic accompaniment. In fact, in this case we are talking about "superabundance" or spontaneous redundancy, which cannot be a guideline for, for example, university language teaching, because the latter is an institutional system in which systemic didactic influence on the student is carried out, even taking into account the total dissemination of ideas of communication, the "reality" of foreign language communication, etc..

The time limitation, which maximally actualizes this problem precisely when it comes to the areas of non-linguistic profile training, is just the weakest point of learning through immersion, most often denoted by critics of the latter, because if it is possible to penetrate even a brilliantly modeled real language environment only for a few hours a week, the student needs time each time to adapt to it is obvious that it already takes away significant cognitive resources, and besides, the constant need to return from this foreign-speaking environment clearly levels its advantages and reduces the positive effect. This raises the question of the need for pedagogical management of information redundancy by means of the educational process.

Based on the positions outlined above, let us now consider the specific features, conditions and possible errors in the application of the redundancy principle in teaching languages to students of non–linguistic areas of training - that is, the contingent to which the ideas of practical orientation in language teaching are most relevant.

The first condition is the differentiation of quantitative redundancy and qualitative redundancy. The first refers to a simple volume of language material expressed in numerical value, that is, for example, the number of new lexical units. It should be noted that when mentioning redundancy in teaching and mastering the English language (namely, it is mainly studied within the framework of non-linguistic educational programs), lexical redundancy is most often meant because the grammatical and phonetic material of this language can be presented and presented in a fairly concise form, especially for grammars. Qualitative redundancy should be understood as a higher level of language. According to the author, the regularly used principle of redundancy in the classroom will benefit if it is quantitative. Indeed, if instead of, say, 10 new words that can be carefully learned and worked out, students are offered 25 and at the same time 15 will be remembered, the quantitative effect is obvious. There is also a psychological effect in this case: a non-linguistic professional using a foreign language should get used to the fact that even with a sufficiently high level of proficiency in it, he will always be surrounded by a sufficiently large number of new words, while it is absolutely not necessary to know all lexical units to understand the text.

For a non-linguist, this situation is quite normal and natural, while for a specialist with a linguistic education, on the contrary, the desire to learn the meaning of a new word encountered speaks of high professionalism.

Qualitative redundancy should be applied only reasonably and with maximum caution, since the use of materials whose complexity is clearly higher than the level of language proficiency of the student is more likely to harm the motivational aspect of learning. This contradicts both the general didactic principle of feasibility and the ideas about the zone of immediate development, on which Russian pedagogical psychology is traditionally based. In addition, it was precisely in Western language education, from where we borrowed the ideas of maximum practical orientation in language acquisition, that a clearer system of language proficiency levels and, accordingly, language teaching was developed than in the domestic tradition.

Another condition for the effective use of redundancy in the pedagogical process under consideration is to activate the excess material and return to it. The peculiarity of working in compliance with this condition is based on the understanding that although a certain proportion of unremembered material is the norm, this does not mean that the material that has passed by is not needed and can be postponed, skipped, etc.

Very often, practical teachers use the analogy that language material (words, phrases, etc.) is like "coins or jewelry, which you need to grab as much as possible, and even if you drop a few on the way, you will still carry more than if you just carefully take a few coins." This analogy is good, in our opinion, in the motivational aspect, in fact, popularly explaining the meaning of redundancy, but still only partially true. The fact is that if a person has collected a sufficient number of coins, he will not need those that were dropped, which cannot be said about the language material, since in the end the student will need it all, especially if it is a general language course, or language learning at a low level.

In methodological works, the problem of activating language material (as a rule, we are talking about vocabulary), that is, transferring it from a passive stock to an active one, is consecrated in sufficient detail. The former is traditionally understood as words that a person recognizes and understands well when confronted with them, but cannot use in productive types of speech activity – such an opportunity is characteristic of just an active stock.

Returning to redundancy, it is very important to note that if a student has once perceived a word, it does not mean that it has fallen at least into the passive stock. Before the state of passive reserve in consciousness, at least once perceived words can go through at least two stages "I think I saw it somewhere" and "I saw it exactly somewhere, but I don't remember what it means." Words in such stages need to be activated more quickly than the vocabulary of a "solid" passive stock. It is for this reason that if the material is given in excess, it must be repeated at least once in it to identify what exactly and to what extent has "settled" in the student's mind. The results of such diagnostics will already allow us to focus on the material that needs to be activated to a greater extent.

For classes within the framework of non-linguistic programs that are conducted with students no more than once a week, this is most relevant, since for more than a week or two, a word perceived once can be completely erased from consciousness. Thus, the work on activation should be of a well-thought-out systematic nature, which already translates the study into the plane of the problems of organizing independent work, knowledge control, etc., work within which can be a logical continuation of this research.

The third condition for the effective use of redundancy is the systematic supply of excess material. It is the consistency in the presentation and perception of the material that qualitatively distinguishes the institutional pedagogical process from the redundancy that a person faces, for example, when navigating in a foreign language Internet, which helps in mastering the language, but in no way can be an effective way of mastering it by itself.

It is hardly possible to effectively implement the principle of redundancy by simply giving students, for example, authentic material, text, article, etc. of a larger volume. This can only work with students who have a high level of foreign language training and a fairly extensive experience of language acquisition. The fact is that a large number of new words of different topics, different parts of speech, different styles, etc., forces a person before memorizing (that is, in addition to memory) to use a large number of mental operations, primarily of a classification nature, which spend significant cognitive resources, which, when implementing redundancy, should be directed as much as possible to memory. An example of a systematic presentation of redundant material can be lexical units of one semantic field, or, for example, if we are talking about grammar, phrasal verbs formed from one verb, or, conversely, phrasal verbs with one postposition.

Unlike a handful of coins in a fist, the analogy with which was carried out above, the language material in consciousness is systematic, therefore it should be perceived systematically, redundancy in this case should not only not cancel this, but, on the contrary, goes in unison to achieve a synergetic effect by means of the institutional pedagogical process, which is also axiomatically systematic. by nature. Otherwise, again, we can only talk about spontaneous redundancy.

            Speaking about the approbation of the results, we note that the application of the above conditions in educational practice has demonstrated some effectiveness in the context of its empirical results.

            The development of new lexical material has improved by an average of 10% when it comes to general language lexical units and by about 5-10% when it comes to specialized terminology, depending on its complexity. Differentiation of quantitative and qualitative redundancy of educational information made it possible to significantly level the difference in the basic foreign language training of students of groups, which is extremely important for a non-linguistic profile. Differentiation of redundant material by various semantic and grammatical features also allowed to increase the development of new lexical units by about 10% and reduce the number of errors by about 5% when it comes to grammar.           

As a discussion of the results of the study, comparing it with other works of the RSCI, first of all, with those that were analyzed during the preparation of this article (see the list of sources), we note the following.

            Most authors consider the redundancy of educational information in a fairly broad competence, didactic, psychological-pedagogical and cognitive-personal problem field. As a rule, this happens without subject binding to a specific methodology and (or) discipline. Quite a lot is said about the benefits of redundancy of educational information in general, but little attention is paid on the pages of works in the scientific and publication space to its shortcomings, as well as specific psychological, pedagogical and methodological difficulties in the work in relation to this information phenomenon. The present study, being generally staged in nature, partially fills such a gap.The conducted research allows us to draw the following conclusions.

1)      The idea of information redundancy in teaching a foreign language is a natural and logical continuation of modern ideas about the need to model a foreign language environment due to the fact that it is one of the main properties of the latter in the current digital conditions.

2) Redundancy of information, perhaps also because of its objectivity, is considered in modern works as a self-evident phenomenon, meanwhile, within the framework of institutional education, the issue of managing it for maximum effective use has methodological significance and can be a separate subject of research.

3)      The main conditions for the effective use of redundancy can be considered quantitative and qualitative differentiation, activation of redundant material and systematic submission of redundant information. These conditions distinguish didactic redundancy by organization as opposed to the redundancy of information flows that any modern person, including a student, faces in a digital information and telecommunications environment.

Thus, we believe that the idea of information redundancy can claim to be a private didactic principle, since on the one hand it is conceptual from the point of view of modeling the real information and communicative environment in the conditions of the institutional pedagogical process, and on the other hand it gives specific methodological regulations expressed in the conditions of effective use of redundant material. In other words, this idea fulfills the function of a rule from both a theoretical and a practical point of view.

This work, which is generally of an overview nature, can give food for thought and serve as a forerunner for deeper and highly specialized studies devoted, for example, to solving a specific methodological problem based on the implementation of the redundancy principle (for example, the development of contextual guesswork, vocabulary activation, fluent reading training, etc.). There is, according to the author, there is also an opposite vector of potential research, in which the implementation of the redundancy principle itself can be considered on the basis of any specific didactic means (for example, authentic materials, interactive technologies, etc.).



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