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UNIT 1 - Teaching a foreign language (L2)

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Teaching a foreign language (L2) The basic theory that shapes second language (L2) teaching is a broadly based field. For this reason, teachers are often unable to have a good command of all the theories which define and delimit the practice of language teaching. It has therefore been necessary to create an intermediary field to facilitate the understanding of these methods that back up the teaching practice. This instrument is called Applied Linguistics. Its role is to extract useful information from the various theories, in order to provide solutions to the potential problems that a learner may come across during the course of foreign language acquisition. Saussure (1916) divided language into the underlying system or langue (the study of language as system) and parole (the study of language in its context of use). This distinction had an enormous relevance for the scientific study of human language, as well as for the creation of new theories connected with foreign language teaching. The book Language (Bloomfield, 1933) breaks with the classic paradigm of language didactics: the study of grammatical forms. Structuralism conceives language as a combination of elements (phonemes, morphemes, words, clauses and utterances) related one to another and used for encoding its meaning. Therefore, Structuralism assumes that we have a good command of a language when we know the elements and rules which compose that language. Chomsky was primarily a linguist who rejected the structuralist conception and the conductists’ theories. Instead, he proposed a new model known as Generative Grammar to analyse the learner’s ability to understand and reproduce utterances heard with anteriority. He believed that language is rule-governed and creative, and that its acquisition is based on experiment and hypothesis testing rather than habit formation. Structuralist and generative views are opposed to each other. Structuralism conceives language as a set of elements that form a structure. The transformational-generative grammar proposed by Chomsky explains, in an explicit manner, the symbols and grammatical forms that the learner has to command, if he is to generate and understand a language. Structuralism has had a great impact on language teaching. A proof of this is the success of the Audio-oral method or Audiolingualism. The transformational-generative grammar was the origin of the Cognitive Code which was so important in the Communicative approach. Both, Cognitive Code and Audiolingualism helped to create an atmosphere of insatisfaction towards the end of the 60s. Great Britain witnessed the birth of a new discipline under the name of Educational Linguistics, which would stand in the middle, between Linguistics and Didactics. This new discipline criticised the stress given by the structuralists and transformationists to formal aspects of the language. This is why they turned their interests towards more communicative aspects of the language, i.e. discourse analysis, semantics, speaking, sociolinguistics and pragmatics, etc. without rejecting formal linguistic analysis.

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 5 seconds
Country: Spain
Language: English
Producer: Manuel Pérez Gutiérrez
Director: Manuel Pérez Gutiérrez
Views: 207
Posted by: mapegu on Nov 2, 2008

An short introduction about teaching a second or foreign language.

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