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TIL

A History of English Language Teaching

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A. P. R. Howatt. Oxford University Press. 1984, 2001.

Scanned from the printed book and edited by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.). Not for sale. Prepared for staff and students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR

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Contents of this page

Contents of this page
Preface

APR notes

UKT notes

Contents of this page

00. Preface

The history of English teaching is a vast subject, and this is a relatively short book which of necessity has had to adopt a specific and therefore limited perspective. The spread of English round the world in the wake of trade, empire-building, migration, and settlement has ensured the teaching of the language a role, sometimes central, sometimes peripheral, in the educational history of virtually every country on earth. The European focus of this book is, therefore, only a small part of the history of the subject, hence the indefinite article in the title. From time to time, the narrative touches on events and their consequences outside its immediate concern, but it can do so only briefly, since they reflect cultural and educational patterns that require to be explored in their own time and context.

The reader will also notice that, in the earlier sections of the book in particular, some of the familiar dividing lines between modern specialisms have been deliberately blurred. The teaching of languages other than English, for example, has been treated in some detail. The bilingual, or in some cases multilingual, format of language teaching manuals was a standard procedure for a long time and it was also common for such books to 'work both ways', teaching French to English speakers, for instance, and vice versa. More generally, however, it would be wrong in principle, I believe, to divorce English language teaching from its broader educational and intellectual context.

Another contemporary distinction that cannot be projected back into the past too uncritically is the separation of English 'as a mother tongue' from English 'as a foreign language', and the present book places considerable emphasis on the relationship between the teaching of English, whether to native or non-native audiences, and the need to develop linguistic descriptions which reflect the generally agreed norms of the standard language. The phoneticians and spelling reformers of the late sixteenth century, for example, addressed their proposals as much to the foreign learner as to the native, and many of the early grammars, such as Wallis's Grammatica, which eventually became major sources for the influential eighteenth-century mother-tongue grammars, were originally intended for non-native students of the language.

It is really only in the present century that we can begin to discern a separate identity for English as a foreign language which derives in part from the 'applied linguistic' principles of the late nineteenth-century [{p-roman14end}] Reform Movement, and in part also from its relative freedom from restrictions imposed by the demands of secondary school curricula and examination systems.

It is not part of the purpose of this book to explore any specific theme of historical development. It will serve, I hope, as a source book as much as anything else. Nevertheless, if there is a latent point of view beneath the surface, it is a belief that progress in the teaching of languages, as in many practical arts, is neither a function solely of the application of theoretical principle, however persuasive, nor of an unthinking reaction to the demands of the immediate market, but of the alchemy which, whether by accident or by design, unites them to a common purpose.

Contents of this page

APR notes

 

 

 

Contents of this page

UKT notes

 

 

Contents of this page
End of TIL file