Update: 2015-12-18 01:39 PM -0500


Notes on:
Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, 4th. ed.


H. Douglas Brown, Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. Copyright 2000. Pearson Education, 10 Bank Street, White Plains, NY 10606. ISBN 0-13-017816-0

Notes by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA) and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com 

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Contents of this page
Preface to the Fourth Edition,     ix
Purpose and Audience     x
Changes in the Fourth Edition     xi
Acknowledgements     xii

UKT notes

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WHEN the first edition of Principles of Language Learning and Teaching appeared in 1980, the field of second language acquisition (SLA) was relatively manageable. We had a handful of professional journals devoted to SLA, a good collection of anthologies and conference proceedings, and a small but respectable number of books on SLA and teaching. Today the field of SLA has so many branches and sub fields and specializations that it is virtually impossible to "manage"!

In the December 1997 issue of the semi-annually published Second Language Instruction/Acquisition Abstracts, 180 periodicals were surveyed and 240 book reviews cited. Some thirty major subject matter areas included child language acquisition, non-native language pedagogy, testing, literacy studies, reading processes and instruction, writing, bilingualism, bilingual education, translation, pragmatics, discourse analysis, specific languages, lexicology, interpersonal behavior and communication, sociolinguistics, language planning, nonverbal language, and more. And several major fields were subsumed into other topics: psycholinguistics, intercultural communication, world Englishes, curriculum design, and critical pedagogy, among others. Incidentally, the December 1997 issue of the above mentioned abstracting journal was the last issue that was printed in hard copy; now, the material has to be electronically downloaded because there is more information than print media can handle!

Today we can see that the manageable stockpile of research of just a few decades ago has been replaced by a coordinated, systematic storehouse of information. Sub fields have been defined and explored. Researchers around the world are meeting, talking, exchanging findings, comparing data, and arriving at some mutually acceptable explanations. A remarkable number of respectable, refereed journals are printing the best and most interesting of this research. Our research miscarriages are fewer as we have collectively learned how to conceive the right questions. [{p-roman10begin}]

At the same time, we should not be too smug. The wonderful intricacy of complex facets of human behavior will be very much with us for some time. Roger Brown's (1966: 326) wry remark of a number of decades ago still applies:

Psychologists find it exciting when a complex mental phenomenon -- something intelligent and slippery -- seems about to be captured by a mechanical model. We yearn to see the model succeed. But when, at the last minute, the phenomenon proves too much for the model and darts off on some uncapturable tangent, there is something in us that rejoices at the defeat.

We can rejoice in our defeats because we know that it is the very elusiveness of this phenomenon of SLA that makes the quest for answers so exciting. Our field of inquiry is no simple, unidimensional reality. It is "slippery" in every way.

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Principles of Language Learning and Teaching is designed to give you a picture of both the slipperiness of SLA and the systematic storehouse of reliable knowledge that is now available to us. As you consider the issues, chapter by chapter, you are led on a quest for your own personal, integrated understanding of how people learn and sometimes fail to learn -- a second language. That quest is eclectic: no .single theory or hypothesis will provide a magic formula for all learners in all contexts. And the quest is cautious: you will be urged to be as critical as you can in considering the merit of various models and theories and research findings. By the end of the final chapter, you will no doubt surprise yourself on how many pieces of this giant puzzle you can actually put together!

In its first three editions, this book has served a number of purposes for many audiences around the world. For graduates or advanced undergraduates in language-teacher education programs, it is a textbook on the theoretical foundations of language teaching. For a surprising number of people it has become a book that Master's degree candidates pore over in preparation for comprehensive examinations! For experienced teachers, it has become a handbook that provides an overview of current issues in the field.

For the most part, you do not need to have prior technical knowledge of linguistics or psychology in order to comprehend this book. An attempt has been made to build, from the beginning, on what an educated person knows about the world, life, people, and communication. And the book can be used in programs for educating teachers of any foreign language, even [{pRoman-11begin}] though many illustrative examples here are in English since that is the language common to all readers.

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The first question people ask me when they hear that a new edition is about to appear is: "What changes will you make?" In anticipation of these questions about the Fourth Edition, I offer the following highlights:

1. Updated topics and references. In a field growing as rapidly as ours, a period of six or seven years sees many advances. The current edition features some new topics: constructivist approaches to SLA, new data on the critical period hypothesis, emotional intelligence, language aptitude, strategies-based instruction (SRI), the neurobiology of affect, language policy and politics, intercultural communication, cross-linguistic influence, form-focused instruction, and Long's Interaction Hypothesis, to name a few. Other topics have been updated to reflect current work in the field. And out of literally thousands of new articles, books, and chapters that have appeared since the last edition, I have added a selection of some 200 new bibliographic references that report the latest work in SLA.

2. Reorganized chapters. If you were just getting used to the Third Edition, be prepared to look carefully at the new edition. The process of revising has involved a reorganization of a substantial proportion of the material.

3. Deletion of the chapter on Language Testing (10). An overwhelming number of readers and reviewers have stated that the Testing chapter cannot be covered within the scope of a term of coursework. I have therefore deleted that chapter and placed it, in revised form, into the new Second Edition of my companion textbook, Teaching by Principles. What was Chapter 11 in the Third Edition has become Chapter 10 here.

4. Redesigned teacher-friendly end-of-chapter exercises. In previous editions, the end-of-chapter exercises were designed for individual contemplation and possibly for teachers to adapt to classroom discussion. In this edition, new and improved classroom-tested exercises are explicitly designed for in-class group work, pair work, whole-class discussion, and individual work.

5. More accessible suggestions for further reading. In this edition the suggestions for further reading now more effectively target an audience of students just beginning in the field of SLA. Few esoteric, technical articles are listed, and instead students are led to more reader-friendly material. [{p-roman12begin}]

6. Journal guidelines for a language learning experience. I have always recommended that the information in a book like this is best internalized if the reader is concurrently taking a course in a foreign language. At the end of each chapter in this edition is a new section that offers classroom-tested journal-writing guidelines for the reader either to reflect on a current experience learning another language or to take a retrospective look at a previous foreign language learning experience. In both cases, the reader is asked to apply concepts and constructs and models to a personal experience learning a foreign language.

7. Revised end-of-chapter "In the Classroom" vignettes. As in the Third Edition, these vignettes provide information on various pedagogical applications and implications of second language research. The first four vignettes describe a historical progression of language-teaching methods; the other chapters deal with related classroom implications of the information in the chapter itself. A new vignette -- a model for class-room error treatment -- has been added to Chapter 8.

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This book has grown out of graduate courses in second language acquisition that I have taught at San Francisco State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Michigan. My first debt of gratitude is therefore to my students for their insights, enthusiasm, and support. They offered invaluable comments on the first three editions of the book, and I have attempted to incorporate those insights into this Fourth Edition. I always learn so much from my students!

I am also grateful to faculty colleagues both here at San Francisco State University and around the world for offering verbal commentary, informal written opinion, and formal published reviews, all of which were useful in fashioning this Fourth Edition. I especially want to thank Tom Scovel, May Shih, Jim Kohn, Aysegill Daloglu, and the publisher's anonymous reviewers for feedback and encouragement. Further, I wish to acknowledge the staff and the resources of the American Language Institute for support in the time-consuming task of this revision. I am particularly grateful to Kathy Sherak for assuming the ALI directorship duties while I took a leave to complete this revision.

Finally, to Mary -- my wife, lifetime companion, and best friend -- thanks once again for believing in me way back when I embarked on this career, and for letting me take over two rooms of the house for this project!

H. Douglas Brown
San Francisco, California

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UKT notes


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End of TIL file