Update: 2015-12-18 01:40 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 

index.htm | |Top

Contents of this page
Ch01. Language, Learning, and Teaching  001
01. Current Issues in Second Language (L2) Acquisition,  002
02. Language,  004
03. Learning and Teaching,  007
04. Schools of Thought in Second Language Acquisition,  008
04.02. Structuralism/Behaviorism, 008
04.02. Rationalism and Cognitive Psychology, 009
04.03. Constructivism, 011
05. Language Teaching Methodology, 013
06. In the Classroom: Grammar Translation Method, 015
07. Topics and Questions for Study and Discussion, 016
08. Suggested Readings, 017
09. Language Learning Experience: Journal Entry 1, 018

UKT notes
Albert Marckwardt 013
B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) 007
Charles Fries (1887-1967) 008 • Charles Hockett (1916-2000) 008 • Charles Osgood 009
Cognitivism 011 • Constructivism 011
David Ausubel 010 • Edward Sapir (1884-1939) 008
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) 010 • Freeman Twaddell (1906-1982) 008
Grammar Translation Method 015
Jean Piaget (1896-1980) 011
la langue 010 • Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) 008 • Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) 011
Noam Chomsky 009
paradigm 004
Skinner Box 009 • Steven Pinker 005
Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) 004
Universal Grammar (UG) 012



LEARNING A second language is a long and complex undertaking. Your whole person is affected as you struggle to reach beyond the confines of your first language [{L1 - I will substitute L1 in the place of more lengthy 'first language' in the rest of the book}] and into a new language, a new culture, a new way of thinking, feeling, and acting. Total commitment, total involvement, a total physical, intellectual, and emotional response are necessary to successfully send and receive messages in a second language [{L2 - I will replace 'second language' with L2 in the rest of the book}]. Many variables are involved in the acquisition process. Language learning is not a set of easy steps that can be programmed in a quick do-it-yourself kit. So much is at stake that courses in foreign languages are often inadequate training grounds, in and of themselves, for the successful learning of a L2. Few if any people achieve fluency in a foreign language solely within the confines of the classroom.

It may appear contradictory, then, that this book is about both learning and teaching. But some of the contradiction is removed if you look at the teaching process as the facilitation of learning, in which you can teach a foreign language successfully if, among other things, you know something about that intricate web of variables that are spun together to affect how and why one learns or fails to learn a L2. Where does a teacher begin the quest for an understanding of the principles of language learning and teaching? By first considering some of the issues.

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Current issues in second language acquisition (SLA) may be initially approached as a multitude of questions that are being asked about this complex process. Let's look at some of those questions.



Who does the learning and teaching? Obviously, learners and teachers. But who are these learners? Where do they come from? What are their native languages? levels of education? socioeconomic levels? Who are their parents? What are their intellectual capacities? What sorts of personalities do they have? These questions focus attention on some of the crucial variables affecting both learners' successes in acquiring a foreign language and teachers' capacities to enable learners to achieve that acquisition. The chapters that follow will help to tease out those variables.

In the case of the teacher, another set of questions emerges. What is the teacher's native language? experience and/or training? knowledge of the L2 and its culture? philosophy of education? personality characteristics? Most important, how do the teacher and the student interact with each other?



No simpler a question is one that probes the nature of the subject matter itself. What is it that the learner must learn and the teacher teach? What is communication? What is language? What does it mean when we say someone knows how to use a language? How can both the L1 and the L2 be described adequately? What are the linguistic differences between the L1 and the L2? These profound questions are of course central to the discipline of linguistics. The language teacher needs to understand the system and functioning of the L2 and the differences between the L1 and L2 of the learner. It is one thing for a teacher to speak and understand a language and yet another matter to attain the technical knowledge required to understand and explain the system of that language -- its phonemes and morphemes and words and sentences and discourse structures.



How does learning take place? How can a person ensure success in language learning? What cognitive processes are utilized in L2 learning? What kinds of strategies does the learner use? What is the optimal [{p003begin}] interrelationship of cognitive, affective, and physical domains for successful language learning?



When does L2 learning take place? One of the key issues in L2 research and teaching is the differential success of children and adults in learning a L2. Common observation tells us that children are "better" language learners than adults. Is this true? If so, why does the age of learning make a difference? How do the cognitive and emotional developmental changes of childhood and young adulthood affect language acquisition? Other "when" questions center around the amount of time spent in the activity of learning the L2. Is the learner exposed to three or five or ten hours a week in the classroom? Or a seven-hour day in an immersion program? Or twenty-four hours a day totally submerged in the culture?



Are the learners attempting to acquire the L2 within the cultural and linguistic milieu of the L2, that is, in a "second" language situation in the technical sense of the term? Or are they focusing on a "foreign" language context in which the L2 is heard and spoken only in an artificial environment, such as the modern language classroom in an American university or high school? How might the sociopolitical conditions of a particular country affect the outcome of a learner's mastery of the language? How do general intercultural contrasts and similarities affect the learning process?



Finally, the most encompassing of all questions: Why are learners attempting to acquire the L2? What are their purposes? Are they motivated by the achievement of a successful career? by passing a foreign language requirement? or by wishing to identify closely with the culture and people of the target language? Beyond these categories, what other affective, emotional, personal, or intellectual reasons do learners have for pursuing this gigantic task of learning another language?

These questions have been posed, in very global terms, to give you an inkling of the diversity of issues involved in the quest for understanding the principles of language learning and teaching. And while you cannot hope to find final answers to all the questions, you can begin to achieve a surprising number of answers as you move through the chapters of this book. [{p004begin}]

And you can hone the global questions into finer, subtler questions, which in itself is an important task, for often being able to ask the right questions is more valuable than possessing storehouses of knowledge.

Thomas Kuhn (1970) referred to "normal science" as a process of puzzle solving in which part of the task of the scientist, in this case the teacher, is to discover the pieces and then to fit the pieces together. Some of the pieces of the language learning puzzle have become well established. Others are not yet discovered, and the careful defining of questions will lead to finding those pieces. We can then undertake the task of fitting the pieces together into a " paradigm" -- an interlocking design, a theory of L2 acquisition.

That theory, like a jigsaw puzzle, needs to be coherent and unified. If only one point of view is taken -- if you look at only one facet of L2 learning and teaching -- you will derive an incomplete, partial theory. The L2 teacher, with eyes wide open to the total picture, needs to form an integrated understanding of the many aspects of the process of L2 learning.

In order to begin to ask further questions and to find answers to some of those questions, we must first address a fundamental concern in problem-posing: defining or delimiting the focus of our inquiry. Since this book is about language, learning, and teaching, let's see what happens when we try to "define" those three terms.

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UKT: Whenever I come across the word 'language', I am alarmed: is it spoken language or written language? It may not be important for English, but for Burmese-Myanmar, it is. Burmese is the spoken language whereas Myanmar is the script in which it is written in the same way as Hindi, the spoken language is written in Devanagari the script. At present by 'language' what we normally mean is the spoken form, whereas the written form is known as 'script'. If we are to adopt this convention we should write, English-Latin, French-Latin and Spanish-Latin for some European languages and Hindi-Devanagari, Pali-Devanagari, Sanskrit-Devanagari for some Indic languages. For those languages that use the Myanmar script, we have Burmese-Myanmar, Karen-Myanmar, Mon-Myanmar, Pali-Myanmar and Shan-Myanmar to name some.

A definition of a concept or construct is a statement that captures its key features. Those features may vary, depending on your own (or the lexicographer's) understanding of the construct. And, most important, that understanding is essentially a "theory" that explicates the construct. So, a definition of a term may be thought of as a condensed version of a theory. Conversely, a theory is simply -- or not so simply -- an extended definition. Defining, therefore, is serious business: it requires choices about which facets of something are worthy of being included.

Suppose you were stopped by a reporter on the street, and, in the course of an interview about your field of study, you were asked: "Well, since you're interested in L2 acquisition, please define language in a sentence or two." You would no doubt dig deep into your memory for a typical dictionary-type definition of language. Such definitions, if pursued seriously, could lead to a lexicographer's wild-goose chase, but they also can reflect a reasonably coherent synopsis of current understanding of just what it is that linguists are trying to study, If you had had a chance to consult the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia (1994: 479), you might have responded to your questioner [{p005begin}] with an oversimplified "systematic communication by vocal symbols." Or, if  you had recently read S. Pinker's The Language Instinct (1994), you might have come up with a sophisticated statement such as:

Language is a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction, is deployed without awareness of its underlying logic, is qualitatively the same in every individual, and is distinct from more general abilities to process information or behave intelligently. (p.18)

On the other hand, you might have offered a synthesis of standard definitions out of introductory textbooks: "Language is a system of arbitrary conventionalized vocal, written, or gestural symbols that enable members of a given community to communicate intelligibly with one another." Depending on how fussy you were in your response, you might also have included some mention of (a) the creativity of language, (b) the presumed primacy of speech over writing, and (c) the universality of language among human beings.

A consolidation of a number of possible definitions of language yields the following composite definition.

1. Language is systematic.
2. Language is a set of arbitrary symbols.
3. Those symbols are primarily vocal, but may also be visual.
4. The symbols have conventionalized meanings to which they refer.
5. Language is used for communication.
6. Language operates in a speech community or culture.
7. Language is essentially human, although possibly not limited to humans.
8. Language is acquired by all people in much the same way;
    language and language learning both have universal characteristics.

These eight statements provide a reasonably concise "twenty-five-word-or-less" definition of language. But the simplicity of the eightfold definition should not be allowed to mask the sophistication of linguistic research underlying each concept. Enormous fields and sub fields, year-long university courses, are suggested in each of the eight categories.

¤  Eight subfields of linguistics

     (Go back to where you came from: eight-subfields-ling-note-b)

1. Explicit and formal accounts of the system of language on several possible levels (most commonly phonological, syntactic, and semantic).  {p006begin}]

2. The symbolic nature of language; the relationship between language and reality; the philosophy of language; the history of language.

3. Phonetics; phonology; writing systems; kinesics, proxemics, and other "paralinguistic" features of language.

4. Semantics; language and cognition; psycholinguistics.

5. Communication systems; speaker-hearer interaction; sentence processing.

6. Dialectology; sociolinguistics; language and culture; bilingualism and L2 acquisition.

7. Human language and nonhuman communication; the physiology of language.

8. Language universals; L1 acquisition.

Serious and extensive thinking about these eight topics involves a complex journey through a labyrinth of linguistic science -- a maze that continues to be negotiated. Yet the language teacher needs to know something about this system of communication that we call language. Can foreign language teachers effectively teach a language if they do not know, even in general, something about the relationship between language and cognition, writing systems, nonverbal communication, sociolinguistics, and L1 acquisition? And if the L2 learner is being asked to be successful in acquiring a system of communication of such vast complexity, isn't it reasonable that the teacher have awareness of what the components of that system are?

Your understanding of the components of language determines to a large extent how you teach a language. If, for example, you believe that nonverbal communication is a key to successful L2 learning, you will devote some attention to nonverbal systems and cues. If you perceive language as a phenomenon that can be dismantled into thousands of discrete pieces and those pieces programmatically taught one by one, you will attend carefully to an understanding of the separability of the forms of language. If you think language is essentially cultural and interactive, your classroom methodology will be imbued with sociolinguistic strategies and communicative tasks.

This book touches on some of the general aspects of language as defined above. More specific aspects will have to be understood in the context of an academic program in a particular language, in which specialized study of linguistics is obviously recommended along with a careful analysis of the foreign language itself.

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In similar fashion, we can ask questions about constructs like learning and teaching. Consider again some traditional definitions. A search in contemporary dictionaries reveals that learning is "acquiring or getting of knowledge of a subject or a skill by study, experience, or instruction." A more specialized definition might read as follows: "Learning is a relatively permanent change in a behavioral tendency and is the result of reinforced practice" (Kimble & Garmezy 1963: 133). Similarly, teaching, which is implied in the first definition of learning, may be defined as "showing or helping someone to learn how to do something, giving instructions, guiding in the study of something, providing with knowledge, causing to know or understand." How awkward these definitions are! Isn't it curious that professional lexicographers cannot devise more precise scientific definitions? More than perhaps anything else, such definitions reflect the difficulty of defining complex concepts like learning and teaching.

Breaking down the components of the definition of learning, we can extract, as we did with language, domains of research and inquiry.

1. Learning is acquisition or "getting."
2. Learning is retention of information or skill.
3. Retention implies storage systems, memory, cognitive organization.
4. Learning involves active, conscious focus on and acting upon events outside or inside the organism.
5. Learning is relatively permanent but subject to forgetting.
6. Learning involves some form of practice, perhaps reinforced practice.
7. Learning is a change in behavior.

These concepts can also give way to a number of sub fields within the discipline of psychology: acquisition processes, perception, memory (storage) systems, recall, conscious and subconscious learning styles and strategies, theories of forgetting, reinforcement, the role of practice. Very quickly the concept of learning becomes every bit as complex as the concept of language. Yet the L2 learner brings all these (and more) variables into play in the learning of a L2.

Teaching cannot be defined apart from learning. Teaching is guiding and facilitating learning, enabling the learner to learn, setting the conditions for learning. Your understanding of how the learner learns will determine your philosophy of education, your teaching style, your approach, methods, and classroom techniques. If, like B. F. Skinner, you look at learning as a process of operant conditioning through a carefully paced program of reinforcement, you will teach accordingly. If you view L2 learning as a deductive rather than an inductive process, you will probably [{p008begin}] choose to present copious rules and paradigms to your students rather than let them "discover" those rules inductively.

An extended definition -- or theory -- of teaching will spell out governing principles for choosing certain methods and techniques. A theory of teaching, in harmony with your integrated understanding of the learner and of the subject matter to be learned, will point the way to successful procedures on a given day for given learners under the various constraints of the particular context of learning. In other words, your theory of teaching is your theory of learning "stood on its head."

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While the general definitions of language, learning, and teaching offered above might meet with the approval of most linguists, psychologists, and educators, points of clear disagreement become apparent after a little probing of the components of each definition. For example, is language a "set of habits" or a "system of internalized rules"? Differing viewpoints emerge from equally knowledgeable scholars.

Yet with all the possible disagreements among applied linguists and SLA researchers, some historical patterns emerge that highlight trends and fashions in the study of L2 acquisition. These trends will be described here in the form of three different schools of thought that follow somewhat historically, even though components of each school overlap chronologically to some extent. Bear in mind that such a sketch highlights contrastive ways of thinking, and such contrasts are seldom overtly evident in the study of anyone issue in SLA.

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04.01. Structuralism/Behaviorism

In the 1940s and 1950s, the structural, or descriptive, school of linguistics, with its advocates -- Leonard Bloomfield, Edward Sapir, Charles Hockett, Charles Fries, and others -- prided itself in a rigorous application of the scientific principle of observation of human languages. Only the "publicly observable responses" could be subject to investigation. The linguist's task, according to the structuralist, was to describe human languages and to identify the structural characteristics of those languages. An important axiom of structural linguistics was that "languages can differ from each other without limit," and that no preconceptions could apply to the field. Freeman Twaddell (1935: 57) stated this principle in perhaps its most extreme terms:

Whatever our attitude toward mind, spirit, soul, etc., as realities, we must agree that the scientist proceeds as though there were [{p009begin}] no such things, as though all his information were acquired through processes of his physiological nervous system. Insofar as he occupies himself with psychical, nonmaterial forces, the scientist is not a scientist. The scientific method is quite simply the convention that mind does not exist. ..

The structural linguist examined only the overtly observable data. Such attitudes prevail in B.E Skinner's thought, particularly in Verbal Behavior (1957), in which he said that any notion of "idea" or "meaning" is explanatory fiction, and that the speaker is merely the locus of verbal behavior, not the cause. Charles Osgood (1957) reinstated meaning in verbal behavior, explaining it as a "representational mediation process," but still did not depart from a generally nonmentalistic view of language.

Of further importance to the structural or descriptive linguist was the notion that language could be dismantled into small pieces or units and that these units could be described scientifically, contrasted, and added up again to form the whole. From this principle emerged an unchecked rush of linguists, in the 1940s and 1950s, to the far reaches of the earth to write the grammars of exotic languages.

Among psychologists, a behavioristic paradigm also focused on publicly observable responses – those that can be objectively perceived, recorded, and measured. The "scientific method" was rigorously adhered to, and therefore such concepts as consciousness and intuition were regarded as "mentalistic," illegitimate domains of inquiry. The unreliability of observation of states of consciousness, thinking, concept formation, or the acquisition of knowledge made such topics impossible to examine in a behavioristic framework. Typical behavioristic models were classical and operant conditioning, rote verbal learning, instrumental learning, discrimination learning, and other empirical approaches to studying human behavior. You may be familiar with the classical experiments with Pavlov's dog and Skinner's boxs; these too typify the position that organisms can be conditioned to respond in desired ways, given the correct degree and scheduling of reinforcement.

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04.02. Rationalism and Cognitive Psychology

In the decade of the 1960s, the generative-transformational school of linguistics emerged through the influence of Noam Chomsky.  Chomsky was trying to show that human language cannot be scrutinized simply in terms of observable stimuli and responses or the volumes of raw data gathered by field linguists. The generative linguist was interested not only in describing language (achieving the level of descriptive adequacy) but also in arriving at an explanatory level of adequacy in the study of language, that is, a "principled basis, independent of any particular language, for the [{p010begin}] selection of the descriptively adequate grammar of each language" (Chomsky 1964:63).

Early seeds of the generative-transformational revolution were planted near the beginning of the twentieth century. Ferdinand de Saussure (1916) claimed that there was a difference between parole (what Skinner "observes," and what Chomsky called performance) and langue (akin to the concept of competence, or our underlying and unobservable language ability). A few decades later, however, descriptive linguists chose largely to ignore langue and to study parole, as was noted above. The revolution brought about by generative linguistics broke with the descriptivists' preoccupation with performance -- the outward manifestation of language -- and capitalized on the important distinction between the overtly observable aspects of language and the hidden levels of meaning and thought that give birth to and generate observable linguistic performance.

Similarly, cognitive psychologists asserted that meaning, understanding, and knowing were significant data for psychological study. Instead of focusing rather mechanistically on stimulus-response connections, cognitivists tried to discover psychological principles of organization and functioning. David Ausubel (1965: 4) noted:

From the standpoint of cognitive theorists, the attempt to ignore conscious states or to reduce cognition to mediational processes reflective of implicit behavior not only removes from the field of psychology what is most worth studying but also dangerously oversimplifies highly complex psychological phenomena.

Cognitive psychologists, like generative linguists, sought to discover underlying motivations and deeper structures of human behavior by using a rational approach. That is, they freed themselves from the strictly empirical study typical of behaviorists and employed the tools of logic, reason, extrapolation, and inference in order to derive explanations for human behavior. Going beyond descriptive to explanatory power took on utmost importance.

Both the structural linguist and the behavioral psychologist were interested in description, in answering what questions about human behavior: objective measurement of behavior in controlled circumstances. The generative linguist and cognitive psychologist were, to be sure, interested in the what question; but they were far more interested in a more ultimate question, why: What underlying reasons, genetic and environmental factors, and circumstances caused a particular event?

If you were to observe someone walk into your house, pick up a chair and fling it through your window, and then walk out, different kinds of questions could be asked. One set of questions would relate to what happened: [{p011begin}] the physical description of the person, the time of day, the size of the chair, the impact of the chair, and so forth. Another set of questions would ask why the person did what he did: What were the person's motives and psychological state, what might have been the cause of the behavior, and so on. The first set of questions is very rigorous and exacting: it allows no flaw, no mistake in measurement; but does it give you ultimate answers? The second set of questions is richer, but obviously riskier. By daring to ask some difficult questions about the unobserved, we may lose some ground but gain more profound insight about human behavior.

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04.03. Constructivism

Constructivism  is hardly a new school of thought. Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, names often associated with constructivism, are not by any means new to the scene of language studies. Yet constructivism emerged as a prevailing paradigm only in the last part of the twentieth century. What is constructivism, and how does it differ from the other two viewpoints described above?

Constructivists, not unlike some cognitive psychologists, argue that all human beings construct their own version of reality, and therefore multiple contrasting ways of knowing and describing are equally legitimate. This perspective might be described as

an emphasis on active processes of construction [of meaning], attention to texts as a means of gaining insights into those processes, and an interest in the nature of knowledge and its variations, including the nature of knowledge associated with membership in a particular group. (Spivey 1997: 23-24)

Constructivist scholarship can focus on "individuals engaged in social practices, ...on a collaborative group, [or] on a global community" (Spivey 1997: 24).

A constructivist perspective goes a little beyond the rationalist/innatist and the cognitive psychological perspective in its emphasis on the primacy of each individual's construction of reality. Piaget and Vygotsky, both commonly described as constructivists (in Nyikos & Hashimoto 1997), differ in the extent to which each emphasizes social context. Piaget (1972) stressed the importance of individual cognitive development as a relatively solitary act. Biological timetables and stages of development were basic; social-interaction was claimed only to trigger development at the right moment in time. On the other hand, Vygotsky (1978), described as a "social" constructivist by some, maintained that social interaction was foundational in cognitive development and rejected the notion of predetermined stages. [{p012begin}]

Researchers studying first and L2 acquisition have demonstrated constructivist perspectives through studies of conversational discourse, sociocultural factors in learning, and interactionist theories. In many ways, constructivist perspectives are a natural successor to cognitivist studies of universal grammar, information processing, memory, artificial intelligence, and interlanguage systematicity. (Note: These terms will be defined and explained in subsequent chapters of this book.)

All three positions must be seen as important in creating balanced descriptions of human linguistic behavior. Consider for a moment the analogy of a very high mountain, viewed from a distance. From one direction the mountain may have a sharp peak, easily identified glaciers, and distinctive rock formations. From another direction, however, the same mountain might now appear to have two peaks (the second formerly hidden from view) and different configurations of its slopes. From still another direction, yet further characteristics emerge, heretofore unobserved. The study of SLA is very much like the viewing of our mountain: we need multiple tools and vantage points in order to ascertain the whole picture.

Table 1.1 summarizes concepts and approaches described in the three perspectives above. The table may help to pinpoint certain broad ideas that are associated with .the respective positions. [{p013begin}]

The patterns that are illustrated in Table 1.1 are typical of what Kuhn (1970) described as the structure of scientific revolutions. A successful paradigm is followed by a period of anomaly (doubt, uncertainty, questioning of prevailing theory), then crisis (the fall of the existing paradigm) with all the professional insecurity that comes therewith; and then finally a new paradigm, a novel theory, is put together. This cycle is evident in both psychology and linguistics, although the limits and bounds are not always easily perceived -- perhaps less easily perceived in psychology, in which all three paradigms currently operate somewhat simultaneously. The cyclical nature of theories underscores the fact that no single theory or paradigm is right or wrong. It is impossible to refute with any finality one theory with another: Some truth can be found in virtually every theory.

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One of the major foci of applied linguistic scholarship for the last half a century has been the foreign or L2 classroom. A glance through the past century or so of language teaching gives us an interesting picture of varied interpretations of the best way to teach a foreign language. As schools of thought have come and gone, so have language teaching trends waxed and waned in popularity. Pedagogical innovation both contributes to and benefits from the kind of theory-building described in the previous section.

Albert Marckwardt (1972: 5) saw these "changing winds and shifting sands" as a cyclical pattern in which a new paradigm (to use Kuhn's term) of teaching methodology emerged about every quarter of a century, with each new method breaking from the old but at the same time taking with it some of the positive aspects of the previous paradigm. One of the best examples of the cyclical nature of methods is seen in the revolutionary Audiolingual Method (ALM) of the late 1940s and 1950s. The ALM borrowed tenets from its predecessor by almost half a century, the Direct Method, while breaking away entirely from the Grammar-Translation paradigm. (See "In the Classroom " vignettes to follow, for a definition of these methods.) Within a short time, however, ALM critics were advocating more attention to rules and to the "cognitive code" of language, which, to some, smacked of a return to Grammar-Translation! Shifting sands indeed.

Since the early 1970s, the relationship of theoretical disciplines to teaching methodology has been especially evident. The field of psychology has witnessed a growing interest in interpersonal relationships, in the value of group work, and in the use of numerous self-help strategies for attaining desired goals. The same era has seen linguists searching ever more deeply for answers to the nature of communication and communicative [{p014begin}] competence and for explanations of the interactive process of language. The language teaching profession responded to these theoretical trends with approaches and techniques that have stressed the importance of self-esteem, of students cooperatively learning together, of developing individual strategies for success, and above all of focusing on the communicative process in language learning. Today the term "communicative language teaching" is a byword for language teachers. Indeed, the single greatest challenge in the profession is to move significantly beyond the teaching of rules, patterns, definitions, and other knowledge "about" language to the point that we are teaching our students to communicate genuinely, spontaneously, and meaningfully in the L2.

This book is intended to give you a comprehensive picture of the theoretical foundations of language learning and teaching. But that theory remains abstract and relatively powerless without its application to the practical concerns of pedagogy in the classroom. In an attempt to help to build bridges between theory and practice, I have provided at the end of each of the chapters of this book a brief "vignette" on classroom considerations. These vignettes are designed to acquaint you progressively with some of the major methodological trends and issues in the profession. The vignettes are obviously not intended to be exhaustive (refer to such books as Brown 2000; Richard-Amato 1996; Nunan 1991b; Richards and Rodgers 1986 for more specific treatments), but they should begin to give you a bit of history and a picture of the practical consequences of developing the theoretical principles of language learning and teaching.

Today, language teaching is not easily categorized into methods and trends. Instead, each teacher is called on to develop a sound overall approach to various language classrooms. This approach is a principled basis upon which the teacher can choose particular designs and techniques for teaching a foreign language in a particular context. Such a prospect may seem formidable. There are no instant recipes. No quick and easy method is guaranteed to provide success. Every learner is unique. Every teacher is unique. Every learner-teacher relationship is unique, and every context is unique. Your task as a teacher is to understand the properties of those relationships. Using a cautious, enlightened, eclectic approach, you can build a theory based on principles of L2 learning and teaching. The chapters that follow are designed to help you formulate that approach.

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06. In the Classroom:

Grammar Translation Method

UKT: See my note on Grammar Translation Method .

We begin a series of end-of-chapter vignettes on classroom applications with a language teaching "tradition" that, in various manifestations and adaptations, has been practiced in language classrooms worldwide for centuries. A glance back in history reveals few if any research-based language teaching methods prior to the twentieth century. In the Western world, "foreign" language learning in schools was synonymous with the learning of Latin or Greek. Latin, thought to promote intellectuality through "mental gymnastics," was until relatively recently held to be indispensable to an adequate higher education. Latin was taught by means of what has been called the Classical Method: focus on grammatical rules, memorization of vocabulary and of various declensions and conjugations, translation of texts, doing written exercises. As other languages began to be taught in educational institutions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Classical Method was adopted as the chief means for teaching foreign languages. Little thought was given at the time to teaching oral use of languages; after all, languages were not being taught primarily to learn oral/aural communication, but to learn for the sake of being "scholarly" or, in some instances, for gaining a reading proficiency in a foreign language. Since there was little if any theoretical research on L2 acquisition in general, or on the acquisition of reading proficiency, foreign languages were taught as any other skill was taught.

Late in the nineteenth century, the Classical Method came to be known as the Grammar Translation Method. There was little to distinguish Grammar Translation from what had gone on in foreign language classrooms for centuries, beyond a focus on grammatical rules as the basis for translating from the second to the native language. But the Grammar Translation Method remarkably withstood attempts at the outset of the twentieth century to "reform" language teaching methodology, and to this day it remains a standard methodology for language teaching in educational institutions. Prator and Celce-Murcia ( 1979: 3) list the major characteristics of Grammar Translation :

1. Classes are taught in the mother tongue, with little active use of the target language.

2. Much vocabulary is taught in the form of lists of isolated words.

3. Long elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar are given.

4. Grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words.

5. Reading of difficult classical texts is begun early.

6. Little attention is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical analysis. [{p016begin}]

7. Often the only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue.

8. Little or no attention is given to pronunciation.

It is remarkable, in one sense, that this method has been so stalwart among many competing models. It does virtually nothing to enhance a student's communicative ability in the language. It is "remembered with distaste by thousands of school learners, for whom foreign language learning meant a tedious experience of memorizing endless lists of unusable grammar rules and vocabulary and attempting to produce perfect translations of stilted or literary prose" (Richards & Rodgers 1986: 4). In another sense, however, one can understand why Grammar Translation is so popular. It requires few specialized skills on the part of teachers. Tests of grammar rules and of translations are easy to construct and can be objectively scored. Many standardized tests of foreign languages still do not attempt to tap into communicative abilities, so students have little motivation to go beyond grammar analogies, translations, and rote exercises. And it is sometimes successful in leading a student toward a reading knowledge of a L2. But, as Richards and Rodgers (1986: 5) pointed out, "it has no advocates. It is a method for which there is no theory. There is no literature that offers a rationale or justification for it or that attempts to relate it to issues in linguistics, psychology, or educational theory." As we continue to examine theoretical principles in this book, I think we will understand more fully the "theorylessness" of the Grammar Translation Method.

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Note: Items listed below are coded for either individual (Individual) work, group/pair (Group) work, or whole-class (Class) discussion, as suggestions to the instructor on how to incorporate the topics and questions into a class session.

1. (Group) In the first paragraph of this chapter, L2 learning is described as a complex, long-term effort that requires much of the learner. In small groups of three to five, share your own experiences in learning, or attempting to learn, a foreign language. Describe your own (a) commitment, (b) involvement, and (c) effort to learn. This discussion should introduce you to a variety of patterns of learning.

2. (Class) Look at the two definitions of language, one from an encyclopedia and the other from Pinker's book (page 5). Why are there differences between these two definitions? What assumptions or biases do they [{p017begin}] reflect on the part of the lexicographer? How do those definitions represent "condensed theories"?

3. (Individual/Group) Write your own "twenty-five-words-or-less" definitions of language, learning, and teaching. What would you add to or delete from the definitions given in this chapter? Share your definitions with another class-mate or in a small group. Compare differences and similarities.

4. (Group) Consider the eight subfields of linguistics listed on page 6, and, assigning one sub- field to a pair or small group, discuss briefly the type of approach to L2 teaching that might emerge from emphasizing the exclusive importance of your particular subfield. Report your thoughts to the whole class.

5. (Class) What did Twaddell (1935: 57) mean when he said, "The scientific method is quite simply the convention that mind does not exist"? What are the advantages and disadvantages of attending only to "publicly observable responses" in studying human behavior? Don't limit yourself only to language teaching in considering the ramifications of behavioristic principles.

6. (Class) Looking back at the three schools of thought described in this chapter, try to come up with some examples of activities in the language classroom that would match the three perspectives.

7. (Class) Considering the productive relationship between theory and practice, think of some examples (from any field of study) that show that theory and practice are interactive. Next, think of some specific types of activities typical of a foreign language class you have been in (choral drills, translation, reading aloud, using a vocabulary word in a sentence, etc.). What kind of theoretical assumptions underlie these activities? How might the success of the activity possibly alter the theory behind it?

8. (Group) Richards and Rodgers (1986: 5) said the Grammar Translation Method "is a method for which there is no theory:' Why did they make that statement? Do you agree with them? Share in a group any experiences you have had with Grammar Translation in your foreign language classes.

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• Mitchell, Rosamond and Myles, Florence. 1998. Second Language Learning Theories. New York: Oxford University Press.

• Skehan, Peter. 1998. A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning. New York: Oxford University Press.

• Williams, Marion and Burden, Robert L. 1997. Psychology for Language Teachers; A Social Constructivist Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [{p018begin}]

Brown's note: A number of references were made in this chapter to trends in research on applied linguistics and SLA. These three informative books offer further perspectives on the three major schools of thought described here, and are written in a user-friendly style.

• Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, published by Cambridge University Press.

Brown's note: Comprehensive and current information on various sub fields of interest within what is broadly termed "applied linguistics" is available through this annually published journal.

• Thomas Kuhn. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brown's note: This classic work describes the waxing and waning of scientific trends through history. It helps one to understand SLA research trends in a context of other scientific disciplines.

• Brown, H. Douglas. 2000. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Second Edition. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

• Richard-Amato, Patricia A. 1996. Making It Happen: Interaction in the Second Language Classroom, From Theory to Practice. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

• Richards, Jack and Rodgers, Theodore. 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown's note: These three books offer a historical overview and critical analysis of language teaching methods in a context of theoretical foundations that underlie pedagogical practices.

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In each of the ten chapters in this book, a brief set of journal-writing guidelines will be offered. Here, you are strongly encouraged to commit yourself to a process of weekly journal entries that chronicle a previous or concurrent foreign language learning experience. In so doing, you will be better able to connect the issues that you read about in this book with a real-life, personal experience.

Remember, a journal is meant to be "freely" written, without much concern for beautiful prose, rhetorical eloquence, or even grammaticality. It is your diary in which you can spontaneously record feelings, thoughts, reactions, and questions. The prompts that are offered here are not meant to be [{p019begin}] exhaustive, so feel free to expand on them considerably. The one rule of thumb to follow in writing your journal is: connect your own experiences learning a foreign language with issues and models and studies that are presented in the chapters of the book. Your experiences then become vivid examples of what might otherwise remain somewhat abstract theories.

If you decide to focus your writing on a previous experience learning a foreign language, you will need to "age regress" yourself to the time that you were learning the language. If at all possible, choose a1anguage you learned (or tried to learn!) as an adult, that is, after the age of twelve or so. Then, describe what you were feeling and thinking and doing then.

If your journal centers on a concurrent experience, so much the better, because your memory of the ongoing events will be more vivid. The journal-writing process may even prompt you to adopt certain strategies for more successful learning.

Guidelines for Entry 1

• As you start(ed) your foreign language class, what is your overall emotional feeling? Are you overwhelmed? challenged? unmotivated? Is the course too easy?

• How do you feel about your classmates? the class spirit or mood? Is the class upbeat and motivating, or boring and tedious? Analyze why you have this perception. What is causing it? Is it your own attitude, or the teacher's style, or the makeup of the class?

• Describe activities that you did in the early days of the class that illustrate (a) a behavioristic perspective on L2 acquisition, (b) a cognitive perspective, and (c) a constructivist perspective.

• Describe your teacher's teaching style. Is it effective? Why or why not? Does your teacher seem to have an approach to language teaching that is consistent with what you've read so far?

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UKT notes

Albert Marckwardt

Author of "American and British English" and "Old Paths and New Directions". The following is from www.geocities.com/ms_english101/grammar1.htm

     It is evident then that grammar did change despite the fact that traditional grammar held such prominence for so many years. In the 1950s, the studies of structural linguists began to make a major impact in the field. Their viewpoint was that the spoken form of English should be emphasized and the written form seen as derivative. Spoken was primary and written secondary. Therefore, structural grammar, placing importance on the spoken, regarded that form of usage as the measurement of what is correct and took into account the variable nature of the language, too. Albert Marckwardt remarked on this "death" of traditional grammar in his 1958 book American English, saying that those rules of grammar were "highly restrictive and unrealistic [and so] incredible portions of the body of rules . . . have disappeared."
       Today, we see that written English and spoken English are becoming very mixed-up due to the increasing use of e-mail and chat rooms on the Internet. Many people use their computers much like a telephone to communicate with friends, family, and strangers. In doing so, they write as they would speak. This is in keeping with the structural grammar philosophy with puts precedence of spoken over written. In this technological age, the style of spoken English really is a more important than the correct style of written English.
       Continuing with grammar's history, in the 1960s, another movement gained prominence in the field. First called transformational grammar, it is now known as generative grammar. Generative grammar's greatest champion is linguist Noam Chomsky who wrote the groundbreaking work on the subject in 1957, Syntactic Structures. It was his belief that grammar is generative and so is also creative; grammar is transformational "because it shows relationships between structures, that is, that way one structure is changed or transformed into another" (Nilsen 136). His was a kind of non-grammar almost.

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B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner 080219
• Operant Conditioning. http://www.psychology.org/
• Dr. C. G. Boeree www.ship.edu .
• D.G. Likely, www.unb.ca/psychology/likely

From Wikipedia

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (Mar 20, 1904 - Aug 18, 1990), Ph.D. was a highly influential American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform and poet. He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until retirement in 1974. He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism, and founded his own school of experimental research psychology — the experimental analysis of behavior. His analysis of human behavior culminated in his work Verbal Behavior, which has recently seen enormous increase in interest experimentally and in applied settings. He discovered and advanced the rate of response as a dependent variable in psychological research. He invented the cumulative recorder to measure rate of responding as part of his highly influential work on schedules of reinforcement. In a recent survey, Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century. He was a prolific author, publishing 21 books and 180 articles.

From Operant Conditioning

The theory of B.F. Skinner is based upon the idea that learning is a function of change in overt behavior. Changes in behavior are the result of an individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. A response produces a consequence such as defining a word, hitting a ball, or solving a math problem. When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond. The distinctive characteristic of operant conditioning relative to previous forms of behaviorism (e.g., Thorndike, Hull) is that the organism can emit responses instead of only eliciting response due to an external stimulus.
     Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner's S-R theory. A reinforcer is anything that strengthens the desired response. It could be verbal praise, a good grade or a feeling of increased accomplishment or satisfaction. The theory also covers negative reinforcers -- any stimulus that results in the increased frequency of a response when it is withdrawn (different from adversive stimuli -- punishment -- which result in reduced responses). A great deal of attention was given to schedules of reinforcement (e.g. interval versus ratio) and their effects on establishing and maintaining behavior.
     One of the distinctive aspects of Skinner's theory is that it attempted to provide behavioral explanations for a broad range of cognitive phenomena. For example, Skinner explained drive (motivation) in terms of deprivation and reinforcement schedules. Skinner (1957) tried to account for verbal learning and language within the operant conditioning paradigm, although this effort was strongly rejected by linguists and psycholinguists. Skinner (1971) deals with the issue of free will and social control.

From: Dr. C. G. Boeree

SKINNER, Burrhus Frederic  1904-1990.
     B. F. Skinner was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, to a lawyer-father and a strong and intelligent housewife-mother.  His upbringing was old-fashioned and hard-working. He received his BA in English from Hamilton College, New York State, but the college with its requirement of students attending chapel every day did not suit Skinner who was an atheist. After trying unsuccessfully to be a writer of short stories and poetry, he wrote newspaper articles on labor problems. He lived as a "bohemian" for sometime in the Greenwich Village, New York City. He went back to school at Harvard where he got his masters in psychology in 1930 and his doctorate in 1931. He became the chairman of the psychology department at Indiana University in 1945.  From 1948 until he died he was at Harvard doing research, guiding hundreds of doctoral candidates and writing many books.  Though not successful as a writer of fiction and poetry, he became one of the best psychology writers, including the book Walden II, which is a fictional account of a community run by his behaviorist principles. He was perhaps the most celebrated psychologist since Sigmund Freud.
     Theory. B. F. Skinner’s entire system is based on operant conditioning.  The organism is in the process of “operating” on the environment, which in ordinary terms means it is bouncing around it world, doing what it does.  During this “operating,” the organism encounters a special kind of stimulus, called a reinforcing stimulus, or simply a reinforcer.  This special stimulus has the effect of increasing the operant -- that is, the behavior occurring just before the reinforcer.  This is operant conditioning:  “the behavior is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence modifies the organisms tendency to repeat the behavior in the future.”

From: D.G. Likely

C. B. Ferster & B. F. Skinner's 1957 book, Schedules of reinforcement, provides records of thousands of operant responses. For many years thereafter, more and more complicated combinations of reinforcement schedules were tested using an increasing variety of species. There is no doubt that these experiments produced (mostly) orderly behaviour but by 1970 there was considerable question as to whether the findings could usefully be applied to situations less artificial that those obtaining in Skinner boxes. Skinner had deliberately eschewed theoretical analysis in favour of behavioural control but others mistook the operational simplicity of the operant preparation for a vastly oversimplified account of animal and human psychology. (The difficulty in analysing precisely how a reinforcement schedule controls behaviour is discussed in Mackintosh, 1974, p. 168f.)

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Charles Fries (1887-1967)

From A P R Howatt's A History of English Language Teaching: Biographical notes
Oxford University Press, Copyright 1984, 2001.  www.oup.com/elt

     ... doctorate in 1922 (Univ. of Michigan). ... he helped to found the famous English Language Institute ... published ... English for Latin-American Students (1942) ... An Intensive Course in English for Chinese Students (1946), written in collaboration with Yao Shen ... his most influential pedagogical work, Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language (1945), ... to teach the basic patterns of English 'within approximately three months'. ... the most salient features of his approach were its stress on intensive, short-course study and on training in the spoken language. His own term 'The Oral Approach', as well as his links with the school of thought that had produced the well-known Army programme (the ASTP), underlined these impressions in the profession at large. ... the application of modern linguistic research in the production of teaching materials, and the contrastive studies that preceded the creation of these materials. His frustration at being misunderstood is evident in an article for Language Learning called 'American linguistics and the teaching of English' (1955). He was the first applied linguist in the modern sense and used the term 'applied linguistics' in the subtitle of Language Learning -- A Quarterly Journal of Applied Linguistics (1948). The first editorial board consisted of Fries himself, W. F. Twaddell, and K. L. Pike. ... Under Fries and his successors as Directors of the English Language Institute, Robert Lado and Albert H. Marckwardt, the work and prestige of the Institute continued to grow. Language laboratory techniques were pioneered from the late forties and, in particular, the teaching technique known by everyone in the profession as 'pattern practice'. More important than methods, however, were the descriptive linguistic analyses that preceded them. Fries produced two important studies, American English Grammar (1940) and The Structure of English (1952), two of the most influential analyses of the English language in the twentieth century. ... Although the Structural Approach, as the Fries-Lado model is normally called, was rather unenterprising methodologically, the new rigour that Fries brought to the linguistic content of teaching materials carried the art of writing pedagogical grammars to an altogether different level of professional expertise from anything it had attained before.

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Charles Hockett (1916-2000)

From Margalit Fox, http://courses.smsu.edu quoting Charles Hockett, Linguist With an Anthropological View, Dies at 84, http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/13/national/13HOCK.html
November 13, 2000

     Charles F. Hockett, one of the last great champions of structural linguistics, an approach to the study of language upstaged by the "Chomsky Revolution" of the 1950's, died Nov. 3 at the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 84 and lived in Ithaca.
     Before his retirement in 1982, Dr. Hockett was the Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at Cornell University. His many books included "A Course in Modern Linguistics" (1955), which remained the standard introductory work for nearly two decades, and the anthropology text "Man's Place in Nature" (1973).
     Dr. Hockett, whose goatee and deliberate manner of speaking contributed to his professorial mien, was one of the most prominent linguists of the post-World War II era, recognized for his meticulous analyses of languages from Chinese to Fijian to Potawatomi, a lifework he once described as "anthropology wrapped around linguistics." He was later known for his stinging criticism of Chomskyan linguistics, which he called "a theory spawned by a generation of vipers."
     Until the late 1950's, structural linguistics held sway as the field's reigning methodology. Closely allied with behavioral psychology, it viewed language as a social phenomenon and the linguist's task as the compilation of minutely detailed grammatical inventories of individual languages.
     But in 1957 the young linguist Noam Chomsky redirected the course of the field from behavior to biology, arguing that human language ability is the product of an innate, universal cognitive faculty. The task of the linguist, then, should be to characterize this inborn faculty by means of abstract, quasi-mathematical rules. Dr. Chomsky's work, originally known as transformational-generative grammar, continues to be the dominant force in linguistics.
     Dr. Hockett, however, remained a lifelong adherent of structuralism, lamenting what he viewed as the Chomskyans' ripping of language from its social context. "In the form of an aphorism that paraphrases Stalin and Einstein," he wrote in 1979, "linguistics without anthropology is sterile; anthropology without linguistics is blind."
     Charles Francis Hockett was born Jan. 17, 1916, in Columbus, Ohio, where his father, Homer Carey Hockett, taught American history at Ohio State University. Charles entered Ohio State in 1932 at the age of 16, receiving his B.A. and M.A. in ancient history jointly in 1936. He received his doctorate in 1939 from Yale, where he was a student of the renowned linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir.
     As a United States Army officer during World War II, Dr. Hockett prepared foreign-language instructional materials for military personnel ("In 1944 I could say `Where is the toilet?' in 28 languages," he recalled), and on returning to civilian life he worked briefly on the American College Dictionary ("Many of the nontechnical definitions in the B's are mine, and I am especially proud of the entry on 'bubble' "). He joined the Cornell faculty in 1946.
     Dr. Hockett is survived by his wife, the former Shirley Orlinoff, a retired professor of mathematics at Ithaca College; his daughters, Alpha Walker of Los Angeles, Amy Rose of Detroit, Rachel Youngman of Cambria, Calif., and Carey Hockett of London; a son, Asher, of Ithaca; and five grandchildren. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science, and a past president of the Linguistic Society of America.
     In 1968, Dr. Hockett published "The State of the Art," a book-length denunciation of the transformational grammarians. "Their studies are as worthless as horoscopes," he told The New Yorker in 1971. "They have rejected the scientific approach to the study of the human mind and human behavior, and retreated into mysticism."
-- The New York Times on the Web http://www.nytimes.com

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Charles Osgood  

From A. Lock in Part 2. The Nature of Human Learning, a series of lectures on Sociobiology offered in 2001 at Massey University, New Zealand. www.massey.ac.nz . E-mail address of Andrew Lock: A.J.Lock@massey.ac.nz :

     "Charles Osgood commented (1956): the great advantage of this solution is that, since each stage is an S-R process, we can simply transfer all the conceptual machinery of single-stage S-R psychology into this new model without new postulation'. All learning occurred by S-R association, in Osgood's view, but human learning involved internal associations as well as external ones."

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Read A. Lock From Behaviourism to Cognitivism in Part 2. The Nature of Human Learning, a series of lectures on Sociobiology offered in 2001 at Massey University, New Zealand. www.massey.ac.nz . E-mail address of Andrew Lock: A.J.Lock@massey.ac.nz

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From: G.Kearsley, Explorations in Learning & Instruction, TIP database. http://tip.psychology.or

Constructivist Theory (J. Bruner).
A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given".
     As far as instruction is concerned, the instructor should try and encourage students to discover principles by themselves. The instructor and student should engage in an active dialog (i.e., Socratic learning). The task of the instructor is to translate information to be learned into a format appropriate to the learner's current state of understanding. Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned.
     Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information.
     In his more recent work, Bruner (1986, 1990) has expanded his theoretical framework to encompass the social and cultural aspects of learning.
     Scope/Application: Bruner's constructivist theory is a general framework for instruction based upon the study of cognition. Much of the theory is linked to child development research (especially Piaget ). The ideas outlined in Bruner (1960) originated from a conference focused on science and math learning. Bruner illustrated his theory in the context of mathematics and social science programs for young children (see Bruner, 1973). The original development of the framework for reasoning processes is described in Bruner, Goodnow & Austin (1951). Bruner (1983) focuses on language learning in young children.
     Note that Constructivism is a very broad conceptual framework in philosophy and science and Bruner's theory represents one particular perspective. For an overview of other Constructivist frameworks, see http://www.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/constructivism.html or http://www.mcgill.ca/douglas/fdg/kjf/17-TAGLA.htm.
     Example: This example is taken from Bruner (1973): "The concept of prime numbers appears to be more readily grasped when the child, through construction, discovers that certain handfuls of beans cannot be laid out in completed rows and columns. Such quantities have either to be laid out in a single file or in an incomplete row-column design in which there is always one extra or one too few to fill the pattern. These patterns, the child learns, happen to be called prime. It is easy for the child to go from this step to the recognition that a multiple table , so called, is a record sheet of quantities in completed multiple rows and columns. Here is factoring, multiplication and primes in a construction that can be visualized."
1. Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness).
2. Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student (spiral organization).
3. Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps (going beyond the information given).

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David Ausubel

From Educational Psychology: David Ausubel, by Barbara Bowen  http://web.csuchico.edu/~ah24/ausubel.htm

     The Person and His Time: Ausubel was influenced by Piaget’s cognitive development theory. He was very active in his field in the 1950’s to 1970’s. He developed his instructional models based on cognitive structures.
     His Theory: Ausubel’s theory is involved with how individuals learn large amounts of "meaningful" material from verbal/textual lessons in school. This is in contrast to theories developed in the laboratory.
     In Ausubel’s subsumption theory, he contended that "the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows." (Ausubel, 1968) A primary process in learning is subsumption in which new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structures. A major instructional mode proposed by Ausubel is the use of advance organizers. He emphasizes that advance organizers are different from overviews and summaries which simply emphasize key ideas and details in an arbitrary manner. Organizers act as a "subsuming bridge" (Ausubel, 1963) between new learning material and existing related ideas.
     Scope/Application: Ausubel specifies that his theory applies only to reception (expository) learning in school settings. He states that there are differences between reception learning and rote and discovery learning. Rote learning does not involve subsumption (i.e., meaningful materials) and in discovery learning the learner must discover information through problem solving.
     Principles: 1. The most general ideas of a subject should be presented first and them progressively differentiated in terms of detail and specifics. 2. Instructional materials should attempt to integrate new material with previously presented information through comparisons and cross-referencing of new and old ideas.
     How Theory Can Help Teachers: 1. We need to remember that inputs to learning are important. 2. Learning materials should be well organized. 3. New ideas and concepts must be potentially meaningful to learner. 4. Anchoring new concepts into the learner’s already existing cognitive structure will make the new concepts recallable.
Ausubel, David P. (1968). Educational Psychology, A Cognitive View. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
• Ausubel, David P. (1967). Learning Theory and classroom Practice. Ontario: The Ontario Institute For Studies In Education.
• Ausubel, David P. (1963). The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York: Grune & Stratton.
• Radical School Reform: Critique and Alternatives, edited by Cornelius J. Troost (1973). Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

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Edward Sapir (1884-1939)

From A P R Howatt's A History of English Language Teaching: Biographical notes
Oxford University Press, Copyright 1984, 2001.  www.oup.com/elt

     Sapir was born in Lauenburg in Pomerania, but his family emigrated to the U.S. when he was five years old. ... 1904 ... graduated from Columbia University where he  ... (met) ... Franz Boas. ... (studied) ... Sapir ...(worked) on descriptions of various American Indian ...  In 1910 he ... (worked) ... at the Canadian National Museum ... published ... Language, an Introduction to the Study of Speech (1921). Some of his optimism returned when he resumed direct contact with students first at the University of Chicago and, from 1931, at Yale. ... he became increasingly interested in the broader relationships between language, culture, and personality, and in particular the exploration of a view that the 'real-world' is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality .The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached'. Later this notion was pursued in detail by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941), and it became common practice to refer to it as the 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis'. Unlike Bloomfield (q.v.) Sapir was never directly involved in language teaching activities. Nevertheless, the influence of his work has been profound, particularly concerning the educational role of language in society, reflected in part through the writings of modern sociolinguists like William Labov and Dell Hymes.

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Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)

From A.P.R.Howatt Biographical Notes in A History of English Language Teaching, Oxford University Press 1984. ISBN 0-19-437075-5

     "Born into a family with a distinguished record in the natural sciences, Saussure began his academic career by studying physics and chemistry in his native Geneva. He switched to linguistics, however, in 1876 and entered Leipzig University, the centre of the Junggrammatiker ('Neo-grammarian') movement in historical linguistics which greatly influenced Vietor (q.v.) and others in the Reform Movement. In 1880 he was awarded his doctorate summa cum laude for a thesis on a topic in Sanskrit studies. After teaching in Paris, he became Professor at Geneva and began his famous lecture series in 1907. The third series ended in 1911 and he died in 1913. His seminal Cours de linguistique générale was compiled from students' lecture notes by two colleagues Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye (who had not themselves attended the lectures), and were published in 1916.
     "Saussure's unchallenged eminence as 'The Father of Modern Linguistics' has ensured that the influence of his work has been felt, directly or indirectly, in every branch of linguistic studies including language teaching. His emphasis on the (synchronic) study of language as a social fact revolutionized linguistics which had hitherto been preoccupied with (diachronic) processes of historical change. More specifically, his fundamental distinction between the language system (langue) and actual speech events (parole) has conditioned much of the thinking in theoretical linguistics this century. In the applied field, however, he remained a somewhat remote figure until Chomsky's analogous distinction between competence and performance focused renewed attention on the relationship between 'real' data and 'underlying systems'. (See Culler (1976).)"

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Freeman Twaddell

From: www.lsadc.org/web2/presidents.html

W. Freeman Twaddell (1906-1982) was a distinguished linguist at Brown University in the 1930's and 1940's. He was the president (1957) of Linguistic Society of America (LSA). --

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Grammar Translation Method

UKT: This method has been in use even before the days of the Gautama Buddha in India, and it is still the traditional monastic method of teaching in Myanmar. In this method memorising Pali passages and {a.nak a.Deip~pèý} or "official" translations is the main requirement. Having the experience of going to a monastic school as a child, I have a first hand experience of this language. The success of the method depends on the phonetic nature of the scripts used: Devanagari, Myanmar and Lanka. A Myanmar monk can master Pali in a matter of months, and can easily communicate verbally with his counter parts in Sri Lanka and India. -- 080220

• Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammar_translation 080220
• Poerwarno : http://purwarno-linguistics.blogspot.com/2006/01/grammar-translation-method_13.html  080220

From Wikipedia:

In applied linguistics, the grammar translation method is a foreign language teaching method derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method of teaching Greek and Latin.   The method requires students to translate whole texts word for word and memorize numerous grammatical rules and exceptions as well as enormous vocabulary lists. The goal of this method is to be able to read and translate literary masterpieces and classics.

History and Philosophy
Throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, the education system was formed primarily around a concept called faculty psychology. In brief, this theory dictated that the body and mind were separate and the mind consisted of three parts: the will, emotion, and intellect. It was believed that the intellect could be sharpened enough to eventually control the will and emotions. The way to do this was through learning classical literature of the Greeks and Romans, as well as mathematics. Additionally, an adult with such an education was considered mentally prepared for the world and its challenges. In the 19th century, modern languages and literatures begin to appear in schools. It was believed that teaching modern languages was not useful for the development of mental discipline and thus they were left out of the curriculum. As a result, textbooks were essentially copied for the modern language classroom. In America, the basic foundations of this method were used in most high school and college foreign language classrooms and were eventually replaced by the audiolingual method among others.

Classes were conducted in the native language. A chapter in a typical textbook of this method would begin with a massive bilingual vocabulary list. Grammar points would come directly from the texts and be presented contextually in the textbook, to be explained elaborately by the instructor. Grammar thus provided the rules for assembling words into sentences. Tedious translation and grammar drills would be used to exercise and strengthen the knowledge without much attention to content. Sentences would be deconstructed and translated. Eventually, entire texts would be translated from the target language into the native language and tests would often ask students to replicate classical texts in the target language. Very little attention was placed on pronunciation or any communicative aspects of the language. The skill exercised was reading, and then only in the context of translation.

The method by definition has a very limited scope of objectives. Because speaking or any kind of spontaneous creative output was missing from the curriculum, students would often fail at speaking or even letter writing in the target language. A noteworthy quote describing the effect of this method comes from Bahlsen, who was a student of Plötz, a major proponent of this method in the 19th century. In commenting about writing letters or speaking he said he would be overcome with "a veritable forest of paragraphs, and an impenetrable thicket of grammatical rules." Later, theorists such as Vietor, Passy, Berlitz, and Jespersen began to talk about what a new kind of foreign language instruction needed, shedding light on what the grammar translation was missing. They supported teaching the language, not about the language, and teaching in the target language, emphasizing speech as well as text. Through grammar translation, students lacked an active role in the classroom, often correcting their own work and strictly following the textbook.

From: Poerwarno (Indonesia?)

The Grammar Translation Method is the oldest method of teaching in India. It is as old as the international of English in the country. A number of methods and techniques have been evolved for the teaching of English and also other foreign languages in the recent past, yet this method is still in use in many part of India. It maintains the mother tongue of the learner as the reference particularly in the process of learning the second/foreign languages. The main principles on which the Grammar Translation Method is based are the following:
(i) Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best possible manner.
(ii) The phraseology and the idiom of the target language can best be assimilated in the process of interpretation.
(iii) The structures of the foreign languages are best learnt when compared and contrast with those of mother tongue.
   In this method, while teaching the text book the teacher translates every word, phrase from English into the mother tongue of learners. Further, students are required to translate sentences from their mother tongue into English. These exercises in translation are based on various items covering the grammar of the target language. The method emphasizes the study of grammar through deduction that is through the study of the rules of grammar. A contrastive study of the target language with the mother tongue gives an insight into the structure not only of the foreign language but also of the mother tongue.

1. The phraseology of the target language is quickly explained. Translation is the easiest way of explaining meanings or words and phrases from one language into another. Any other method of explaining vocabulary items in the second language is found time consuming. A lot of time is wasted if the meanings of lexical items are explained through definitions and illustrations in the L2. Further, learners acquire some short of accuracy in understanding synonyms in the source language and the target language.
2. Teacher’s labour is saved. Since the textbooks are taught through the medium of the mother tongue, the teacher may ask comprehension questions on the text taught in the mother tongue. Pupils will not have much difficulty in responding to questions on the mother tongue. So, the teacher can easily assess whether the students have learnt what he has taught them. Communication between the teacher and the learners does not cause linguistic problems. Even teachers who are not fluent in English can teach English through this method. That is perhaps the reason why this method has been practiced so widely and has survived so long.

1. It is an unnatural method. The natural order of learning a language is listening, speaking, reading and writing. That is the way how the child learns his mother tongue in natural surroundings. But in the Grammar Translation Method the teaching of the second language starts with the teaching of reading. Thus, the learning process is reversed. This poses problems.
2. Speech is neglected. The Grammar Translation Method lays emphasis on reading and writing. It neglects speech. Thus, the students who are taught English through this method fail to express themselves adequately in spoken English. Even at the undergraduate stage they feel shy of communicating through English. It has been observed that in a class, which is taught English through this method, learners listen to the mother tongue more than that to the second/foreign language. Since language learning involves habit formation such students fail to acquire habit of speaking English. Thus, they have to pay a heavy price for being taught through this method.
3. Exact translation is not possible. Translation is, indeed, a difficult task and exact translation from one language to another is not always possible. A language is the result of various customs, traditions, and modes of behaviour of a speech community and these traditions differ from community to community. There are several lexical items in one language, which have no synonyms/equivalents in another language. For instance, the meaning of the English word ‘table’ does not fit in such expression as the ‘table of contents’, ‘table of figures’, ‘multiplication table’, ‘time table’ and ‘table the resolution’, etc. English prepositions are also difficult to translate. Consider sentences such as ‘We see with our eyes’, ‘Bombay is far from Delhi’, ‘He died of cholera’, He succeeded through hard work’. In these sentences ‘with’, ‘from’, ‘of’, ‘through’ can be translated into the Hindi preposition ‘se’ and vice versa. Each language has its own structure, idiom and usage, which do not have their exact counterparts in another language. Thus, translation should be considered an index of one’s proficiency in a language.
4. It does not give pattern practice. A person can learn a language only when he internalizes its patterns to the extent that they form his habit. But the Grammar Translation Method does not provide any such practice to the learner of a language. It rather attempts to teach language through rules and not by use. Researchers in linguistics have proved that to speak any language, whether native or foreign entirely by rule is quite impossible. Language learning means acquiring certain skills, which can be learnt through practice and not by just memorizing rules. The persons who have learnt a foreign or L2 through this method find it difficult to give up the habit of first thinking in their mother tongue and than translating their ideas into the L2. They, therefore, fail to get proficiency in the L2 approximating that in the L1. The method, therefore, suffers from certain weaknesses for which there is no remedy

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Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget 080218
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From Wikipedia

Jean Piaget [ʒɑ̃ pjaʒɛ] (Aug 9, 1896 – Sep 16, 1980) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemological view called " genetic epistemology". He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and directed it until 1980. According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget is "the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing"[

From www.xrefer.com

Swiss psychologist noted for his studies of thought processes in children and widely regarded as one of the most important psychologists of the twentieth century. His descriptions of the development of perception, reason, and logic changed the current views of children's intelligence and greatly influenced methods of child education, particularly in the USA.

Piaget began to observe behaviour patterns at an early age, publishing his observations of an albino sparrow when he was ten years old. At fifteen his writings on molluscs were known internationally and at twenty-two he obtained his doctorate from the University of Neuchâtel. After two years at the Sorbonne he was appointed director of the Institut J.-J. Rousseau in Geneva and in 1929 became the professor of psychology at the University of Geneva; in 1955 he was made director of the International Centre of Genetic Epistemology, Geneva.

Piaget had intended to study the development of thought processes in children in order to elucidate the inherent mental structures of humans. His earliest research, which focused on why children fail reasoning tests, led to the long-term study of child intelligence. He suggested that mental growth was determined by interplay of both developing innate structures and environmental influences, an interaction he termed 'equilibration'. Equilibration supposes that when a new experience is assimilated into a child's concept of the world, the concept becomes inadequate and a new, more complex, concept must be invented to accommodate the new information. Equilibrium is then maintained until further experiences require another change of concept. Such a precept requires the existence of logic from early infancy, with intelligence being developed by progressive refinement of cognitive ability by a flexible process of trial and error. Piaget defined the development of children's thinking as a four-stage process, beginning with the sensorimotor stage in infants, who learn from experience by connecting new with older experiences. In the preoperational stage (two to seven years), a child can use words and manipulate them mentally. From seven to twelve years a child begins to think logically and can compare and differentiate, and from twelve to adulthood begins to experiment with formal logic and can think flexibly.

In his later work, Piaget attempted to describe the interactions of cognitive and emotional factors within his four-stage framework. He was a prolific writer, publishing many articles and over thirty books, including The Origin of Intelligence in Children (1954) and The Early Growth of Logic in the Child(1964).
     Who's Who in the Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press, © Market House Books Ltd 1999

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la langue

From www.lacan.com.

     In French the English term "language" can be rendered in two ways: langue and langage. Langue designates an actual, specific language system: English, French, German. It's approximately equivalent to the English "tongue," and emphasizes the everyday employment of language. On the other hand, langage is near in meaning to the English "discourse" (it isn't close to the French discours, especially as Lacan uses discours)(1). Instead of stressing the phenonmenal side of concrete articulations, as in langue, langage refers to a structural system, grammar, or style that governs the formation of statements: scientific discourse, religious discourse, poetic language. Julia Kristeva, directly addressing the role of language in psychoanalysis, words it thus:
     "... the language of dreams and unconscious ... is not identical to la langue studied by linguistics, it is however, made in this langue ... At once ultralinguistic and supralinguistic, or translinguistic, the signifying system studied by Freud has a  universality that "traverses" constituted national languages, for it is definitely a question of a function of language belonging to all languages. (2)
     (1) Lacan, Jacques, The Seminar, Book XX: Encore, On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge, NY: Norton, 1998, p.48.
     (2) Kristeva, Julia, Language: The Unknown, N.Y: Columbia University, 1989, p.272.

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Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949)

From A P R Howatt's A History of English Language Teaching: Biographical notes
Oxford University Press, Copyright 1984, 2001.  www.oup.com/elt

     Born in Chicago into a distinguished family of academics and artists, his uncle Maurice was a noted Sanskrit scholar and President of the Linguistic Society of America, Bloomfield's early work was in Germanic linguistics and he studied at Leipzig and Gottingen. At the age of 34, he became Professor of German and Linguistics at Ohio and in 1927 moved to the University of Chicago. His last appointment was as Sterling Professor of Linguistics at Yale from 1940 till his death in 1949.
     An early work, An Introduction to the Study of Language (1914), greatly influenced Harold Palmer (q.v.), providing a link between the British and American schools of language teaching. Bloomfield's interest in applications of linguistic science is evident in the final chapter of his classic Language (1933) and the influential pamphlet Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Languages (1942), which became a set text for the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). He also produced a beginners' course in German (1923), two of the Spoken Language Series (Dutch and Russian) and materials for the teaching of reading in primary schools. Bloomfield was by nature an unassuming, even slightly withdrawn man, but his influence on the whole field of linguistics -- though temporarily 'out of fashion' -- has been immense.

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Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotsky 080218
•  www.xrefer.com

From Wikipedia

Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (Russian: Лев Семёнович Выготский) (November 17 (November 5 Old Style), 1896 – June 11, 1934) was a Soviet developmental psychologist and the founder of cultural-historical psychology.

From www.xrefer.com

Vygotsky, Lev Semenovich (1896 - 1934)
Innovative Russian psychologist and philosopher who argued that only by understanding the role of culture in psychological development can we attain an account of consciousness that overcomes the shortcomings of behaviourism and reductionism without embracing dualism.
     While human beings are endowed with elementary mental functions that can be explained naturalistically, the higher mental functions are mediated by psychological tools, such as language and other externalized systems of representation, which the individual acquires, not naturally, but through the internalization of social activity. Each child therefore attains consciousness as she is inaugurated into human culture. Shortly after Vygotsky's death from tuberculosis in 1934, the Stalin regime blacklisted his works for many years, but his ideas were preserved by his collaborators, especially A. R. Luria and A. N. Leontiev, and formed the foundation of Soviet 'socio-historical psychology'. His thought has also been influentual in the West, particularly among educationalists.
Bibliography  David Bakhurst, Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy (Cambridge, 1991), ch. 3.
 L. S. Vygotsky, Thought and Language (Cambridge, Mass., 1986).
     The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, © Oxford University Press 1995

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Noam Chomsky

From www.xrefer.com

     American linguist and philosopher whose pioneering work on language, Syntactic Structures (1957), and devasting 'Review of B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behaviour' (in Language (1959)) led to the cognitive revolution, and the demise of behaviourism, in psychology.
     Languages are largely identified by their structure, so, for Chomsky, linguistics is the study of the structure of human languages. He also argues that the theory of language is the theory of a speaker's knowledge of language -- knowledge represented in the mind of the individual. So linguistic theory becomes the study of those linguistic structures represented in the minds of speakers which constitute their knowledge of language. Thus linguistics is a branch of cognitive psychology which studies the mental structures responsible for linguistic competence. Linguistic competence is just one of the interacting components which contribute to the production of linguistic behaviour, so the latter can provide only a rough guide to the speaker's linguistic knowledge. A theory of competence aims to factor it out from the performance data of language use by eliciting judgements from speakers about which strings of words belong to their language (i.e. which strings they find grammatical), then constructing a grammar that generates all and only those grammatical strings.
     Chomsky uses the term 'grammar' to mean both the theory formulated by the linguist and an internal component of the speaker-hearer's mind. This is legitimate so long as the grammar provides a model of the speaker-hearer's competence: a finite means for generating the potential infinity of linguistic forms a speaker-hearer can produce or recognize. Part of the task in explaining what the speaker knows is to account for this creativity: that by the age of 4 most children can produce and recognize a huge range of sentences they have never heard before, by rearranging familiar words into new but legitimate configurations. The best available hypothesis is that they have mastered a system of grammatical knowledge which it is the task of the linguist to describe. Because the grammatical rules or principles are not consciously known and cannot be explicitly stated by the speaker-hearer, Chomsky infers that they must be unconsciously, or tacitly, known. This mentalist hypothesis serves to explain why speaker-hearers conform to complex generalizations that go beyond what could be picked up from the available linguistic evidence.
     The philosopher Quine has criticized Chomsky's position claiming that all we have to go on is behavioural dispositions of speakers, and that these do not discriminate between different descriptively adequate grammars speakers could be using to assign structure to sentences they recognize as belonging to their language. But although the evidence is behavioural, the theoretical constructs posited to explain it do not have to be. By postulating the grammars that underlie linguistic behaviour, Chomsky can formulate generalizations which explain speakers' linguistic judgements and use, including the gaps we find in the data.
     Another task is to explain how children with such different cultural backgrounds, intelligence, and experience learn, without explicit training, and at much the same age, to speak their native language. How do speakers acquire knowledge of language? In Chomsky's view, a large part of this knowledge is innate, a matter of a biological endowment specific to humans. Speakers move from an initial state of the language faculty, which they share, to an attained state, which they develop on exposure to the primary linguistic data. The initial state is characterized by the principles of universal grammar: a finite set of interactive principles which allow for parametric variation within a certain range. The variety of human languages is explained by the different vocabularies and parameter settings of the universal principles which characterize the attained states of the language faculty in different speakers. Chomsky distinguishes E-language -- the common notion of languages like Dutch, English, German -- which is hopelessly vague, and I-language -- the internal language of an individual speaker-hearer -- which is the proper object of scientific study.
     In addition to his work in linguistics, Chomsky has been an active critic on the left of the political spectrum and has published far-reaching criticisms of US domestic and foreign policy.
Bibliography  N. Chomsky, Deterring Democracy(London, 1992).
N. Chomsky, Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin and Use (New York, 1986).
A. George (ed.), Reflections on Chomsky (Oxford, 1989).
W. V. Quine, 'Methodological Reflections on Current Linguistic Theory', in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Language (Dordrecht, 1972). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, © Oxford University Press 1995

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paradigm n. 1. An example that serves as pattern or model. 2. A list of all the inflectional forms of a word taken as an illustrative example of the conjugation or declension to which it belongs. [Middle English example from Late Latin paradīgma from Greek paradeigma from paradeiknunai to compare para- alongside; See para- 1 deiknunai to show; See deik- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD

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Skinner Box

From:  www.biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg/genetics/behaviour/learning/SkinnerBox.html  This article is mentioned by A. Lock in Part 2. The Nature of Human Learning, a series of lectures on Sociobiology offered in 2001 at Massey University, New Zealand. www.massey.ac.nz . E-mail address of Andrew Lock: A.J.Lock@massey.ac.nz :

     "A Skinner box typically contains one or more levers which an animal can press, one or more stimulus lights and one or more places in which reinforcers like food can be delivered. The animal's presses on the levers can be detected and recorded and a contingency between these presses, the state of the stimulus lights and the delivery of reinforcement can be set up, all automatically. It is also possible to deliver other reinforcers such as water or to deliver punishers like electric shock through the floor of the chamber. Other types of response can be measured -- nose-poking at a moving panel, or hopping on a treadle -- both often used when testing birds rather than rats. And of course all kinds of discriminative stimuli may be used."

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Steven Pinker

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Pinker 080219
www.mit.edu Excerpts:

From Wikipedia

Steven Arthur Pinker (born Sep 18, 1954) is a prominent Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science. Pinker is known for his wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Pinker’s academic specializations are visual cognition and language development in children, and he is most famous for popularizing the idea that language is an "instinct" or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection rather than a by-product of general intelligence. He is the author of five books for a general audience, which include The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1999), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007). Pinker's books have won numerous awards and been New York Times best-sellers.

From: www.mit.edu Excerpts:

Steven Pinker, BA (McGill, 1976) (PhD in psychology, Harvard, 1979) is a native of Montreal, . Served in Harvard and Stanford universities, and is now (2001) in MIT as the Professor of Psychology in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. His research on visual cognition and on the psychology of language has received awards from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association. He has also received awards for his popular science books The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works.
     From the jacket of The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language: " Why do immigrants struggle with a new language, only  to have their fluent children ridicule their grammatical errors?  Why can't computers converse with us? Why is the hockey team in  Toronto called the Maple Leafs, not the Maple Leaves? ... Have scientists really reconstructed the  L1 spoken on earth? Are there genes for grammar? Can  chimpanzees learn sign language? ... Does our language control  our thoughts? How could language have evolved? Is language  deteriorating? ... In The Language Instinct, Steven  Pinker, ... explains ...  language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes,  how the brain computes it, how it evolved.

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Thomas Kuhn

From: Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996). www.marxists.org/glossary/people

American historian of science noted for The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, one of the most influential works of history and philosophy of the 20th century. Kuhn introduced the idea of a “Paradigm” which allows only certain kinds of questions to be asked about a science while excluding others, until contradictions build-up to a point where a sudden change of Paradigm takes place, and the whole science is rapidly reconstructed under the “new paradigm”. Kuhn developed a kind of sociology of scientific community to study how these paradigms both constrained and promoted the development of scientific knowledge.
     After studying Physics at Harvard, Kuhn did his PhD in the history of science and subsequently taught and wrote on the history and philosophy of science at Harvard, the University of California (Berkeley), Princeton and M.I.T. until his retirement in 1991.
     In his first book, The Copernican Revolution (1957), Kuhn studied the development of the heliocentric theory of the solar system during the Renaissance. In his landmark second book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he generalised what he described in the first book. In a conception which is strongly reminiscent of Hegel’s conception of the development of knowledge, he argued that scientific research always works within a certain “paradigm,” or closed system of concepts and methods which exclude dissident views which cannot be fitted into the system. During such a period of ‘normality’, researchers simply refine theories and develop their implications; puzzling or anomalous results or facts are simply excluded. Over time, however, the weight of these anomalies builds up and eventually trigger a crisis in which attention is suddenly turned to what was previously ignored, basic assumptions and long-held opinions are overthrown and eventually some new way forward emerges and the old system of ideas falls into disrepute and the whole science is again reworked under the new “paradigm”.
     Kuhn was a part of a widespread movement interested in Cognitive Science in the post-World War Two period. While sharing an element of social-relativism with Structuralism and Functionalism, Kuhn's theory has the great benefit of disclosing the inner dynamic hidden within an social structure.

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Universal Grammar (UG)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_grammar 080220
UKT: This is first topic my daughter had asked for me to explain. Since it was the first time I had heard it, I had to find it myself and it had led me into this field of applied linguistics. -- 080220

From Wikipedia

Universal grammar is a theory of linguistics postulating principles of grammar shared by all languages, thought to be innate to humans (linguistic nativism). It attempts to explain language acquisition in general, not describe specific languages. Universal grammar proposes a set of rules intended to explain language acquisition in child development. The application of the idea to the area of second language acquisition (SLA) is represented mainly by the McGill University linguist Lydia White.
   Some students of universal grammar study a variety of grammars to abstract generalizations called linguistic universals, often in the form of "If X holds true, then Y occurs." These have been extended to a range of traits, from the phonemes found in languages, to what word orders languages choose, to why children exhibit certain linguistic behaviors. as they considered issues of the Argument from poverty of the stimulus to arise from the constructivist approach to linguistic theory.
   The contrasting school of thought is known as functionalism.

The idea can be traced to Roger Bacon's (1214?-1292) observation that all languages are built upon a common grammar, substantially the same in all languages, even though it may undergo accidental variations, and the 13th century speculative grammarians who, following Bacon, postulated universal rules underlying all grammars. The concept of a universal grammar or language was at the core of the 17th century projects for philosophical languages. Charles Darwin described language as an instinct in humans, like the upright posture.
   The idea rose to notability in modern linguistics with theorists such as Noam Chomsky and Richard Montague, developed in the 1950s to 1970s, as part of the " Linguistics Wars".

Chomsky's theory
(Further information: Generative grammar Language acquisition device, and  Principles and parameters )
Linguist Noam Chomsky made the argument that the human brain contains a limited set of rules for organizing language. In turn, there is an assumption that all languages have a common structural basis. This set of rules is known as universal grammar.
   Speakers proficient in a language know what expressions are acceptable in their language and what expressions are unacceptable. The key puzzle is how speakers should come to know the restrictions of their language, since expressions which violate those restrictions are not present in the input, indicated as such. This absence of negative evidence -- that is, absence of evidence that an expression is part of a class of the ungrammatical sentences in one's language -- is the core of poverty of stimulus argument. For example, in English one cannot relate a question word like 'what' to a predicate within a relative clause (1):
   (1) *What did John meet a man who sold?
Such expressions are not available to the language learners, because they are, by hypothesis, ungrammatical for speakers of the local language. Speakers of the local language do not utter such expressions and note that they are unacceptable to language learners. Universal grammar offers a solution to the poverty of the stimulus problem by making certain restrictions universal characteristics of human languages. Language learners are consequently never tempted to generalize in an illicit fashion.
   The presence of creole languages is cited as further support for this theory. These languages were developed and formed when different societies came together and devised their own system of language. Originally these languages were pidgins and later became more mature languages that developed some sense of rules and native speakers.
   The idea of universal grammar is supported by the creole languages by virtue of the fact that all or most of these languages share certain features. Syntactically, they use participles to form future and past tenses and multiple negation to deny or negate. Another similarity among creoles is that a question can be implemented by changing inflection rather than changing words.

Some linguists oppose the universal grammar theory. It is outspokenly opposed by Geoffrey Sampson, who maintains that universal grammar theories are not falsifiable, arguing that the grammatical generalizations made are simply observations about existing languages and not predictions about what is possible in a language.
   Some feel that the basic assumptions of Universal Grammar are unfounded. Another way of defusing the poverty of the stimulus argument is if language learners notice the absence of classes of expressions in the input and, on this basis, hypothesize a restriction. This solution is closely related to Bayesian reasoning. Elman et al. argue that the unlearnability of languages assumed by UG is based on a too-strict, "worst-case" model of grammar.
   Critics argue that the postulate of a "language acquisition device" essentially amounts to the trivial claim that languages are, in fact, learnt by humans, and that the LAD isn't a theory so much as the explanandum looking for theories.

The Pirahã language has been claimed by the linguist Daniel Everett to be a counterexample to Universal Grammar, showing properties allegedly unexpected under current views of Universal Grammar. Among other things, this language is alleged to lack all evidence for recursion, including embedded clauses, as well as quantifiers and color terms. Some other linguists have argued, however, that some of these properties have been misanalyzed, and that others are actually expected under current theories of Universal Grammar. While most languages studied in that respect do indeed seem to share common underlying rules, research is hampered by considerable sampling bias. Linguistically most diverse areas such as tropical Africa and America, as well as the diversity of Indigenous Australian and Papuan languages have been insufficiently studied. Furthermore, language extinction apparently has affected those areas most where most examples of unconventional languages have been found to date.

Neurological evidence
Recent evidence suggests part of the human brain (crucially involving Broca's area, a portion of the left inferior frontal gyrus), is selectively activated by those languages that meet Universal Grammar requirementse.

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