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Key concepts in language learning and language education

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Eszter Várady

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of Key concepts in language learning and language education

Key concepts in language learning and language education
Diana Larsen-Freeman
What is language?
2. structuralist approach, Bloomfield, 1942
traditional approach: knowledge transmission
1. behaviorist approach, skinner, 1957
3. Innatism
chomsky, 1965
Cook & Seidlhofer: "Language is by no means straightforward." It can be:
-genetic inheritance
-mathematical system
-social fact
-expression of individual identity
-expression of cultural identity
-outcome of dialogical interaction
-collection of memorized chunks
-rule-governed combinatory system
-the sum of attested data
Which one is right?

functional approach
Structural approach?!
Solutions ? ! ?
What is learning?
Who are the learners?
What is teaching?
Who are the teachers?
Future trajectory-questions of language education
subject matter
formal vs. functional
rule-governed combinatory system vs. social fact
-Saussure: linguistics as
a science
-descriptive approach
-focusing on the synchronic
system: language as code
system and parole as
utterances of speech
-formal/structural view of
segments: phonemes, lexemes
-grammatical rules practise
-Dell Hymes
-functional approach
-lang. education to move
beyond linguistic competence
to communicative competence
-knowledge of when?how?
what?to whom?
-focusing on language use
-function and meanings over
language forms
Halliday: how texts are organized to realize the potential meaning of language
Widdowson: stylistics or the distinctive patterns and choices people make when using language
Swales: how different registers and genres are patterned
Sacks: how various conversational moves are structured
Blum: how conversational openings and closings are
performed differently in different cultures
Candlin: use of lang. differs in prof./academic contexts
oversimplification of the dichotomy
most language educators teach both structures
real question: teaching built up repertoire of lexical items, or launch them directly to communicating
the structural way:
more declarative knowledge, little procedural knowledge
being compositional
communication- first way:
ability to use the knowledge outside the classroom
you learn both - but it is left to you to figure out how to use the knowledge of grammar rules while communicating
1. Wilkins, 1976: integrate the two by focusing on structures (not by adopting the synthetic grammatical syllabus) by analysis where students engage in meaningful activities.- after reformulate errors
2. Larsen-Freeman, 2003: usage-based approach
Working on the form of grammar structures AND what they mean AND when it is appropriate to use.
3. Segalowitz, 1998: creative automatization
Practising patterns in meaningful communication (context), not grammar rules or structures
4. interactionist approach
Snow, 1979
5. emergentism, Larsen-freeman, 2006.
learners' differences
1. age:
critical period (after puberty)
difference between adult learners & young learners
2. native language
L1 can make an impact on the way that the L2 develops
Sapir-Whorf: language determines the way of thinking
3. individual differences
in 1976 4, in 1989 74, nowadays more than 100
factors are varied from motivation,social attitudes, learning style, different learning strategies, circumstances, goals
definition: learning takes place through conditioning
no mental process involved
the behaviour is reinforced in order to condition a voluntary response to a particular stimulus

definition: learning takes place trough habit formation
construes language as a verbal behaviour, acquired through habit formation
overlearning patterns of the target language
choosing the appropriate one from the patterns in a given context
way: pattern & dialogue practice
Chomsky's basic question: how it is possible for a child learning its native language, induce the rules necessary to produce grammatical sentences?
There must be some innate faculty - LAD
Language Acquisition Device: that guides the child in the language acquisition process.
-without it children would generate countless hypothesis about the rules
-LAD consists of innate general principles of language

It is not necessary to appeal to an innate LAD to explain the facts of language acquisition.
Instead: looking closely at the interaction between child and its caregivers.
Native & non-native interaction - language acquisition takes place - native speakers accomodate non-natives by making the input easier to comprehend.
way: meaning-based, task-based practice, communication is the end goal - focus is on to solve problems, accomplish tasks
Seeing language as a complex adaptive device:
-rejecting Chomsky's LAD, because humans are well situated to perceive and to assimilate the patterns in the language spoken to them
-both children & adult learners can start by attending frequently occurring form-meaning-use constructions in the target language
-way: learners build categories around frequent examples - from the categories they collect semantic & pragmatic information that allows them to analogize
-form-meaning-use constructions are more available through social/interactive process with each interlocutor adjusting to the other over and over again.

teaching-centered view
idea: teachers are responsible for transmitting the knowledge to the students
criticized for the passive role of learners
knowledge transmission remains a common practice
seems like students still need the teachers to organize the knowledge and help to understand and remember what has been transmitted
student-centered view
rejects the view in which students are receptacles of teacher's knowledge
learning should be socially constructed on what student already know
accomplished trough active engagement with other students/the teacher - by reflecting on the experiences - experimental
way: problem-solving, dialoguing, encouraged to reflect on experience
socioculturalist approach
inspired by sociocultural theory
Lev Vygotsky: higher order thinking emerges through social interaction
"zone of proximal development", ZDP is the place where thinking is facilitated
development can be achieved trough problem solving under adult guidance or collaboration with capable peers
socially oriented rationale for interactive work
How support the complex needs of students being taught and expected to learn?
How to redefine second language teaching and its knowledge base/professional competencies?
Many of the world's languages are endangered. Teach these languages or let they be lost forever?
Is there a need for hegemonic standard English, given that many varieties of world Englishes exist?
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