SECOND-LANGUAGE LEARNING: A PSYCHOLINGUISTIC PERSPECTIVE
1978 survey reprinted in V. Kinsella (1982) Surveys 1 CILTR
the early 1960s we were satisfied that we knew all about how people learnt a
second language. Then the impact of Chomsky's ideas exposed the extent of our
ignorance. Some people's reactions were that we should stop interfering with the
learner, since nature knew best (Newmark & Reibel, 1968). Others admitted
the error of their ways in principle but in practice continued to use the same
teaching techniques; by and large the changes in
the content of language teaching from 'structures' to 'functions' were not
accompanied by any changes in teaching methods. However, in the past few years
the question of second-language learning has been reopened; this review attempts
to give a critical account of some directions that research in this field is
taking. Our ignorance is not quite as boundless as it once was; before long we
may be able to base language teaching at last on a solid foundation of knowledge
about second-language learning itself.
The learner's development in a second language
starting point is the language that the learner produces and understands.
Inevitably this involves several methodological problems. One is the
relationship of the learner's language to time; to show how learning takes place
we need to see development in time: we need pictures of 'before' and 'after'.
One way of achieving this is to describe the longitudinal language development
of a group of learners or a single learner, as in Hakuta (1975). Another is to
relate different points of time in different learners, as in Padilla
and Lindholm (1976). Yet another is to relate the learner's language to the
final point in time, the language of the native speaker, the approach often used
in 'error analysis'. A second methodological problem is deciding what we count
as evidence of the learner's language. The most common approach is to gather
more or less natural samples of the learner's language; this has the
disadvantage common to corpus-based descriptions of making it hard to know when
generalisations can be made to the
learner's language system as a whole. Kellerman (1974) has suggested
supplementing it with 'lateralisation', that is to say, eliciting further
information from the learner about specific points. There are also dangers in
relying solely on the analysis of errors since this provides partial information
about the learner's language; to describe it adequately we need to know more
about it than its differences from the target language (Corder, 1971). An
alternative approach consists of designing particular techniques that tap only
the part of the learner's language that we are interested in. Also, compared to
first-language acquisition, the second-language learner is more aware of
learning a language and can be asked direct questions about what he knows.
in the previous paragraph it was accepted implicitly that the learner has a
language system of his own; though this system is related to both his first and
second languages, it has its own distinctive characteristics. This implicit
assumption has been called, with slightly different emphases, ' interlanguage'
(Selinker, 1972), 'transitional competence' (Corder, 1967), 'approximative
system' (Nemser, 1971), and 'language learner's system' (Sampson & Richards,
1973). It parallels the common assumption that a child acquiring a first
language has a systematic language that is not simply a defective version of the
adult's. In itself the assumption tells one nothing about the system or how it
develops except that it is
For the description of learning, an important characteristic of the learner's
language system is that it is changing rather than static: Corder (1977) calls
it a 'dynamic goal-oriented language system of increasing complexity'. However,
one should not forget the effect of 'fossilisation', in which some aspects of
the learner's language system remain fixed and do not develop (Selinker, 1972).
aspect of the learner's development that has interested many people is the order
in which particular grammatical points are acquired. A common approach starts
from part of Roger Brown's work on first-language acquisition. Brown (1973)
discovered that the chronological order in which children start to use
grammatical morphemes such as the
fairly constant: the child first uses -ing,
the plural -s
so on. Dulay and Burt (1973) first tried this approach on second-language
learning, using the Bilingual Syntax Measure (BSM) to elicit samples of language
from children at one moment of time: they scored the accuracy for grammatical
morphemes and established an order of difficulty; though they found a common
order among the children, this order had certain differences from Brown's order.
This method was extended to show that children with different native languages
share the same order (Dulay & Burt, 1974); that adults have a similar order
to children (Bailey, Madden & Krashen, 1974; Krashen, Sferlazza, Feldman
& Fathman, 1976); that the order varies according to the task involved
(Larsen-Freeman, 1975); and that the order is not much affected by one month's
classroom teaching (Perkins & Larsen-Freeman, 1975). At first glance, then,
this research suggests that second-language learners share a common order of
acquisition for grammatical morphemes in English. At closer inspection, the
connections between the learner's language and time seem slightly dubious. The
criteria used in Brown (1973), in which points of acquisition are arranged into
a chronological order, are replaced by criteria of relative success at one point
of time: Brown was talking about a 'codebreaking' order, the second-language
research about aa 'decoding' order, to borrow two terms from
cryptography. Rosansky (1976) argues that it is necessary to show that order of
difficulty is the same as order of acquisition, if these results are to mean
anything in terms of development, furthermore, comparison with Brown's results
is obscured by the different methods
collecting data, on the one hand elicitation techniques such as the BSM, on the
other natural recordings; indeed, native children tested with the BSM do not
show Brown's order (Porter, 1977). A naturalistic study has
fact shown similarity between chronological order of acquisition in young
bilingual children and Brown's order, but less similarity in older children
(Padilla, to appear). So order of difficulty for grammatical morphemes is at
present hard to interpret; it certainly does not in itself justify any
statements about chronological order of acquisition or about differences from
of syntactic development
aspects of syntactic development have been investigated in less controversial
ways. Much of the research has dealt with English and has been concerned with
children. Many results show a fair amount of variation between learners (Cancino,
Rosansky & Schumann, 1975; Bertkua, 1974). Even within the
of one learner there is
variation; Dickerson (1975) has suggested employing variable rules such as
for the variation from one situation to
Out of the plethora of studies one can mention
representative handful concerned with different points of English syntax:
negation (Milon, 1974); pluralisation (Natalico & Natalico, 1971);
auxiliaries (Cancino et
pronouns (Katz, 1976); possessives (Padilla & Lindholm, 1976); eager/easy
to please (Cook,
1973; d'Anglejean & Tucker, 1975). Other languages have been studied to
lesser degree: French relative clauses and indirect objects (Chun, 1976);
Spanish verb and noun phrases (Dato, 1975); Swedish negation (Hyltenstem, 1977).
Mostly the writers have concluded that there are general similarities between
the order of acquisition of foreign
learners and native children, though there are some differences; for example a
stage has been described in
learning of English negation by Germans in which a negative element occurs
immediately after the verb, unlike any stage in first language acquisition
wealth of information about the learning of English syntax should not blind us
to the paucity of research in other areas of development; semantic development
has hardly been touched upon, apart from Young (1973); phonological
development is equally under-researched, with some exceptions (Dickerson,
1975;Tarone, 1976; Wode, 1976 a). This bias towards syntax leaves the study of
learner's language in a curiously isolated position. On the one hand, it is cut
off from recent ideas in first-language acquisition which are more concerned
with semantic, cognitive and social development than with syntax. On the other
hand, it is cut off from recent work in applied linguistics which stresses
communicative functions rather than grammatical form. While the grammatical data
that have been unearthed are interesting in themselves, one may question where
they lead. Ultimately, so far as learning is concerned, the learner's language
and the order in which he acquires various items are only interesting as
evidence for underlying processes at work: the question to be answered is why
his language takes the form that it does. So, rather than attempt to summarise
the vast mass of descriptive studies of learner's language that are now
available, a task resembling Hercules' in the Augean stables, the rest of this
survey looks at some of the underlying causes of the learner's language system.
2. The learner's contribution to second language learning
and production strategies
with a new language the learner applies certain strategies both conscious and
unconscious to what he hears, which partly determine his language system
(Selinker, 1972; Richards, 1971). The positive effects of the learner's
conscious awareness that he is learning a new language have been described in
terms of the strategies that the good language learner adopts (Rubin, 1975;
Stern, 1975; Naiman, Frohlich & Stern, 1975). Broadly speaking, the profile
of the good learner shows that he is actively involved in the learning process:
he listens carefully and checks what he says himself; he is eager to participate
and to communicate with others; he practices the language of his own accord.
Though these strategies necessarily appear 'obvious', any model of
second-language learning has to take them into account; if, for instance, adult
learners feel that second-language learning is chiefly a matter of vocabulary
(Hatch, 1976), this clearly has an effect on their learning, regardless of
whether they are right or wrong. At the opposite pole from these conscious
strategies are those revealed in an experiment, where, after 27 minutes of
exposure to an unknown language, people were able to distinguish pauses located
at grammatical boundaries from those that were not: somehow they had employed
a strategy that yielded quite accurate information about the grammatical
structure of the language (Wakefield, Doughtie & Yom, 1974). The learner
then, consciously or unconsciously, absorbs or extracts information from what he
hears. One strategy is to impose the structure of his first language: he
transfers rules or items to his learner-language system from his first language
and shows signs of 'interference' (Selinker, 1972). Another strategy is to
attempt to guess the system of the target language, resulting in '
overgeneralisation'; his use of this strategy increases as he learns more of the
language (Taylor, 1975). The learner also pays great attention to word order
(Chun, 1976; Lattey, 1975). He may appear to 'simplify' the second language; his
sentences have a simpler grammar and use reduced forms, similar in many ways to
a pidgin language (Schumann, 1975a).
Schumann claims this similarity is no coincidence: pidgins and learner languages
are both produced under the pressure of a need to communicate with people from
another culture. There are nevertheless difficulties in accepting either that
the pressures on an individual and on a community are the same, or that the
similarities between pidgins are necessarily due to a general communication
strategy rather than common source languages. A slightly different explanation
for simplification is that it represents an attempt to return to an earlier,
more basic form of the language (Corder, 1977), resembling the view that early
language is closest to deep structure (McNeill, 1965). There are, however,
dangers in the over-literal use of the term 'simplification ' since this
suggests that in some way the learner is aware of the whole grammar of the
language rather than extracting a ' simple' system from what he hears. Finally
there are the production strategies that the learner uses in a speech situation.
One of these is' avoidance'; Schachter (1974) pointed out that learners often do
not make the predicted mistakes because they can avoid producing a form that
they are likely to get wrong. The idea of avoidance has been extended to include
various types of lexical avoidance (Blum & Levenston, 1977). In general, the
conscious and unconscious strategies that the learner employs are of vital
importance and we need to know more about them, not only in linguistic terms but
also in the cognitive and social terms that are starting to be studied (Chun,
1975; Fillmore, 1976).
ways in which a learner learns a second language are also affected by his
attitudes and psychological motivations. The two main types of motivation that
have been described are the 'integrative', in which the learner wants to
communicate actively with the speakers of the other language, and the 'instrumental',
in which he wants to use the language for some utilitarian purpose; of these two
the integrative now seems more important (Gardner, Smythe, Clement &
Glicksman, 1976). A way in to the large body of literature on this subject can
be found in the annotated bibliography compiled by Desrochers, Smythe &
Gardner (1975). The causes of motivation are attitudes; success in
second-language learning depends on the attitudes towards the foreign culture,
towards learning a foreign language, and towards the classroom situation
1976). One's native language is an important factor in one's sense of identity
as an individual and as a member of a group: learning a new language means
adopting a new identity. Lambert (1974) distinguishes 'additive' bilingualism,
in which the learner loses nothing by learning a second language, from '
subtractive' bilingualism, in which he is forced to give something up; Clarke
(1976) talks of a clash between the level of 'modernity' in the two cultures;
Schumann (1976) draws attention to the 'social distance' separating the learner
from the target culture. While these concepts have obvious relevance to contact
or immigrant situations, they are less important to language teaching in
schools. However, one idea of equal importance to both is the loss of personal
identity in learning a second language: culture-shock is like the alienated
state of a schizophrenic unable to make sense of his surroundings (Clarke, 1976)
and this is supported by similarities between the language of schizophrenics and
second-language learners (Meara, 1977). Guiora, Brannon & Dull (1972)
postulate a 'language ego' that is threatened by the new language; Green (1977)
claims that students regress to an earlier Freudian stage in a foreign language
and express ideas that are more childish than their level of thinking in their
and memory processes
and producing speech involves psychological processes that are only now starting
to be understood. In second-language learning their nature is even more obscure.
One issue is whether these processes are substantially the same in all
languages; some semantic processes involved in verifying the truth of sentences
have in fact been found to be similar in different languages (Just &
Carpenter, 1975). Another issue is whether these processes can be transferred to
a second language; in terms of syntax it has been shown that foreign adults do
not benefit from knowing embedding in a first language but fall back on the same
processes as the young native child (Cook, 1975). The work on grammatical
morphemes can also be interpreted as showing some of the processing limitations
common to learners. At least some speech processes then have to be relearnt in a
second language. Indeed some of them may never be so efficient in a second
language: even skilled bilinguals are worse at a cloze test in their second
language (d'Anglejean & Tucker, 1973); advanced learners cannot summarise
texts as well as natives (Long & Harding-Esch, 1977).
now to memory processes, it is convenient to distinguish short-term from
long-term memory. The characteristics of short-term memory are that information
is stored for only a few seconds, capacity for information is small, and the
information is stored in the form of sounds. Nothing is known about the duration
of short-term memory in a second language but some research has looked at
capacity. Glicksberg (1963) found adult learners of English remembered 6-4
digits at a time compared with 7-1 in their first language, improving to 6-7
during five weeks of an intensive course; Cook (1977) found a capacity of 5-9 in
beginners and 6-7 in advanced learners. So far as the form of storage is
concerned, capacity has been related to syntactic complexity (Harris, 1970) and
to phonological encoding (Cook, 1977); Henning (1973) traced a development
from phonological to semantic storage. So short-term memory seems to work in a
similar fashion in a second language; we can store slightly less information
than in our first language but we store it in similar ways. Long-term memory has
also been studied. Lambert (1956) tested word associations and concluded that,
while advanced learners were more like native speakers in such aspects as number
and range of associations, they were still unlike them in type of associations;
the clustering effect in which adults normally remember words from the same
semantic category together was not found to any great extent with advanced
foreign learners nor was there much difference between advanced learners and
beginners (Cook, 1977). Ultimately this line of research leads to the issue of
how the two language systems are related in the mind of the bilingual: is there
a distinct memory system for each language or are they linked in some way? The
evidence is inconclusive: in the same kind of task where bilinguals had to
switch languages, Taylor (1971) found the languages were stored separately,
while Neufeld (1976) found they were stored together; a task involving naming
colours, on the other hand, produced evidence for close links between the
languages (Lambert & Preston, 1967).
answer to the question about transfer to a second language is then complex. The
conclusion arrived at in Cook (1977) was that memory processes are transferred
more easily the less they depend on language. This has affinities with the claim
that 'capacity increases with processing depth since we can make greater use of
learned rules at deeper levels of analysis' (Craik, 1973), if language is
equated with learned rules. Indeed some recent experiments can be taken to
support this claim by showing little difference between beginners, advanced
learners, and bilinguals in a deductive reasoning task in their second language
(d'Anglejean, Gagnon, Tucker & Winsberg, 1977). A related issue is the
extent to which these memory processes can be employed in learning a second
language, as opposed to using it, in codebreaking rather than decoding. Some
attempts have been made to apply conscious mnemonic techniques to the learning
of vocabulary: Atkinson (1975) describes a 'keyword' technique and Paivio (1976)
a 'pegword' technique, both of which involve forming mental images. However, as
Rivers and Melvin (1977) point out, 'a word learnt out of context is for the
most part a useless bauble': mnemonic techniques are only useful if the
vocabulary learnt with them is available to the speaker for normal language use.
A general application of memory research is discussed in Melvin and Rivers
(1976), who describe an information processing model which emphasises that
procedures for speaking and learning are learnt through meaningful use of
language rather than memorisation. A two-stage model of memory has also been
proposed in which an initial memory fills up with formulas, and a second-stage
memory creates rules to account for the overflow (Gallagher, 1976); this
connects with the discovery of 'prefabricated utterances' in a young Japanese
learner of English (Hakuta, 1974).
people take it for granted that an important factor in second-language learning
is the learner's age; most discussions assume that children are better than
adults and then go on to suggest explanations for this. It is useful to consider
the evidence that might support this assumption. Some Canadian research indeed
showed that children who arrived there under the age of seven fared better at
learning English than those who arrived at an older age (Ramsay & Wright,
1974). But on the other hand there is a mass of evidence that adults are either
superior to, or the same as, children: adults are better than children at
understanding spoken Russian by the total physical response method (Asher &
Price, 1967); teenagers are better at learning grammar than younger children
whether in English (Fathman, 1975) or Dutch (Snow & Hoefnagel-Hohle, 1975);
nine-year-olds learn French morphology and syntax faster than four-year-olds
(Ervin-Tripp, 1974); Israeli census returns show that the age of immigration
makes no difference to the pattern of acquisition, in terms of reported use, and
that, while there is decline with age, the main watershed is at the age of 30
(Smith & Braine, n.d.). Nevertheless, some people might say, the superiority
of children is at learning pronunciation rather than grammar. Again some
evidence confirms this belief: older learners either retain more foreign accent
(Oyama, 1976; Asher & Garcia, 1969) or report they retain it (Seliger,
Krashen & Ladefoged, 1975); the younger children tested in Fathman (1975)
were better at pronunciation than the teenagers. But, on the other hand, adults
learn German sounds better than children in the same teaching situation (Olson
& Samuels, 1973); adults have an initial advantage at pronouncing and
imitating Dutch (Snow& Hoefnagel-Hohle, n.d.); older children up to ten make
fewer mistakes with unfamiliar phonological structure (Kuusinen & Salin,
1971). So far from showing the superiority of children, most of the hard
evidence warrants the opposite conclusion: adults are better than children at
learning a second language when the tests are conducted under controlled
lack of evidence has not prevented many ingenious explanations being offered for
children's alleged superiority at second-language learning. The most general is
that there is a critical period for language learning; after we have left this
period we can learn language only with difficulty. The reasons for this critical
period may be ' lateralisation', that is to say, the tendency for brain
functions to become specialised to one side or the other in the early teens (Scovel,
1969). The evidence for locating lateralisation in the early teens is, however,
debatable (Krashen, 1975), and the causal connection between lateralisation and
language learning necessarily rests on evidence from pathological cases. A
second explanation distinguishes 'acquisition', the normal process through which
children learn a first language, from 'learning', an alternative process that
can be used by adults because of their greater maturity (Krashen, 1976). This
distinction has been enlarged into the 'monitor model' (Krashen, 1977), which
claims that the distinctive feature of adult 'learning' is that adults can
monitor what they are producing; thus tasks which show similarities between
adults and children test 'acquisition' and do not provide sufficient time for
the adult to monitor what he is doing. Obviously independent evidence of this
monitor needs to be supplied; advanced learners, for example, have not been
found to be better at correcting their own mistakes than beginners, as might
have been expected (White, 1977). A third type of explanation is cognitive
development: Rosansky (1975) suggests that the crucial point is the transition
to the Piagetian stage of formal operations in the early teens; Tremaine (1975)
correlates the transition to the earlier Piagetian stage of concrete operations
at about seven with the syntactic development of bilingual children.
as these explanations are, it is not clear they are needed. What differences
there are between children and adults can be explained without recourse to some
unique feature of language learning that changes with age. One simple cause is
differences in situation: Macnamara (1973) distinguishes succinctly between the
demands of the street and of the classroom; often the adult meets the classroom,
the child the street. The types of social interaction also vary; the language
play described in Peck (to appear) is rarely allowed to adults; children talk
about different topics from adults (Hatch, to appear); the peer-group pressures
on children are considerably different from those on adults (Macnamara, 1976)
and the motivations and attitudes of the learner vary according to age
(Schumann, 1975 b).
common factor to the research cited above that found no disadvantage to adults
was precisely that the situation of children and adults was kept the same (Asher
& Price, 1967; Olson & Samuels, 1973). Another factor that the research
on accents does not take into account is historical changes in the status of
immigrants: age of arrival confounds moment of arrival. While it is certainly
possible to explain some of the differences in terms of cognitive maturity, this
does not necessarily involve linking them to the acquisition of formal
operations or to some special process such as monitoring without further
evidence. Given all the factors that distinguish adults from children, it would
be strange if we found no differences between them but it is not necessary to
invoke some peculiar property of language learning to explain them. While one
does not wish to deny the strong impression that many people have that some
adult immigrants speak their new language poorly, this may be ascribed not so
much to an intrinsic defect in the adult's mind as to differences in situation,
in motivation, in willingness to surrender part of one's identity, and so on,
that separate children from adults.
The learner’s situation
language the learner hears
important element in the learner's situation is the language he hears. Ferguson
(1975) described 'foreigner talk', that is to say, the language variety
addressed to foreigners, typified by its 'simpler' grammar and by certain
vocabulary items. In a natural setting the learner may well encounter this
variety; indeed it is not entirely unknown in the classroom (Hatch, 1978). While
there are resemblances between 'simple' foreigner talk addressed to learners and
'simple' pidgin-like language produced by learners, there is no evidence that
foreigner talk assists second-language learning any more than there is proof
that babytalk helps the native child. Both these simple varieties reflect partly
the adult's intuition about what learners find easy to understand, partly the
language used by learners themselves, partly the sociolinguistic convention of
what is appropriate for learners. Aside from foreigner talk, some work has
linked the learner's language to what he hears and the types of interaction in
which he takes part (Larsen-Freeman, 1976; Hatch, 1976). This link between input
and learning is vital to language teaching. A feature of most teaching methods
is that they control the language the learner hears in several dimensions -
situationally, functionally, grammatically, notionally, and in other ways. Yet
evidence for the effects of input hardly exists. Only Valdman (1975) has shown
the possibility of basing the sequence of presentation of grammatical items on
learner's errors. Though a central feature of most classrooms is the structuring
and sequencing of input, we still have no solid evidence to challenge the
assertion that a natural unstructured input is as effective (Newmark &
learner's social interactions
second-language learning, Evelyn Hatch has pioneered the study of conversational
interactions between learners and native speakers (Hatch, to appear; Hatch,
1976). The central feature of interaction she sees as the need to find something
to talk about: adults interpret children's utterances as naming a topic for
discussion; foreign adults struggle hard to establish a topic of conversation.
Adults in particular need 'repairs' to be able to check that they and the native
are talking about the same thing (Hatch, 1976). The order of natural
second-language acquisition is derived primarily from the learner's
communicative needs rather than from grammatical complexity or frequency: the
learner's language is a consequence of his interactions (Hatch, 1978). Some of
the strategies for interaction among children have also been described in
Fillmore (1976). As yet these interaction studies offer interesting insights
into the learner's behaviour rather than a coherent theory; nevertheless they
complement the ideas of integrative motivation and production strategies.
language learners, however, do not engage in social interactions with native
speakers; they sit in a classroom facing a teacher. This contrast is often put
in terms of 'informal' learning which takes place in a natural setting and
'formal' learning which takes place inside a classroom. Macnamara (1976),
however, denies that language teaching is strictly speaking formal, since the
teacher cannot provide formal rules that are linguistically and psychologically
valid. Krashen (1976) sees aspects of both formal and informal learning in the
classroom, defining 'formal' as teaching one rule at a time and having feedback;
he suggests that an adult may benefit from formal teaching since this exploits
his adult capacity to 'learn' rather than 'acquire' language. But we still have
little idea of what goes on in a classroom in terms of interaction; certainly it
is very different from the conversation strategies that Hatch describes. We do
have some ideas about correction of errors (Cohen, 1975; Holley & King,
1971) but more information is needed about all the other aspects of classroom
behaviour by students and teachers.
obvious conclusion from this research is the complexity of second-language
learning; any model has to account not just for grammatical development but also
for the contributions made by the learner and by the learner's environment, not
to mention the individual differences between learners, and the effects of
learning a second language on the learner, a field too vast to include here. If
nothing more, we can rule out simple accounts of second-language learning. A
further general issue is whether a second language can be learnt in the same way
as a first. An adequate discussion of this can only take place if we settle in
advance which model of first-language acquisition we are comparing to
second-language learning: it is hardly satisfactory to try to prove or disprove
the similarity between the processes by choosing select examples from either
field. At present this issue can only be discussed in fairly limited terms
because the research in second-language learning is restricted in scope.
Nevertheless there have been several discussions of this issue (Cook, 1969;
Ervin-Tripp, 1975; Macnamara, 1976; McLaughlin, 1977; Spolsky, 1977). The
general tenor of these emphasises the broad similarities between first- and
second-language learning but draws attention to some specific differences. Much
of the grammatical evidence has already been mentioned in section 1.3 above. In
addition, one can mention an analysis of learner's errors that found most could
be explained in terms of first-language acquisition rather than interference
(Dulay & Burt, 1972) and the results of an experiment in which foreign
adults and native children repeat sentences in similar ways (Cook, 1973).
firm conclusion, as in any research survey, is that more research is needed; in
some areas we have barely started to scratch the surface. Nevertheless, since
the interest of this research for many people lies in its potential application
to language teaching, it seems fair to risk some tentative conclusions.
Obviously any teaching syllabus or materials will be more effective if they pay
attention to what is known about the developmental sequence the learner goes
through, the comprehension and production strategies he uses, his attitudes and
motivations, the interactions he wants to take part in, and so on. But what can
the teacher do who is unable to change the syllabus or course that he uses ?
Above all, the teacher has to recognise the active contribution made by the
learner; regardless of what the teacher wants him to do, the learner adopts
certain learning and production strategies; success in learning is a product of
many different factors in the learner, most of them out of the teacher's
control. In particular, the successful learner wants to communicate actively
through the language. The teacher's recognition of the learner's contribution,
in particular of the integrative motivation, will lead him not only to stress
the ultimate aim of interacting with native speakers but also to encourage the
students to interact with each other and with him in meaningful ways in the
classroom; this probably means providing a variety of interaction patterns, not
just the one in which all communication is channelled through the teacher. The
teacher's awareness of the learner's contribution will also make him more
conscious of the extent to which he can call upon the maturer cognitive
processes of the second-language learner in activities where language is less
involved. In terms of teaching techniques, it leads to activities that encourage
the students to communicate and interact through the new language about things
that vitally concern them, here and now in the classroom, rather than with a
native speaker on some far-off occasion in the future; thus the teacher will
rely heavily on role-play, communication games, and the like. This new emphasis
brings us to a point where the goals of language teaching are no longer defined
simply by the language syllabus the student is expected to know, or by the
usefulness of the language to some conjectured function in the student's later
life, but by their contribution to the social and psychological development of
the individual; it may restore a central educational role to language teaching
in addition to its academic and utilitarian roles.
the original publication of this article, a large amount has been published,
too much to summarise here as a postscript. The following, however, represent
the essential reading in book form that has become available.
F. & Hastings, A. J. (eds.) (1977). Studies
in first and second language acquisition. Rowley,
Mass.: Newbury House, 1979.
P. A. (ed.) (1977). Bilingualism.
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