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Language Learning

In: English and Literature

Submitted By trungngankhoa
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Crossing Boundaries – an interdisciplinary journal
VOL 1, No 3 - Fall 2002

From Communicative Competence to Language Awareness: An Outline of Language Teaching Principles
MANUEL SINOR
Department of Linguistics, University of Alberta

This essay offers a critical review of some key theoretical issues relevant to second language acquisition and considers the practical implications of these issues on language teaching. The discussion advocates a renewed communicative approach to language pedagogy, which entails the educators’ readiness to act as teacher-researchers, their cautious considerations of individual learner differences, their familiarity with some defining aspects of human learning, and their willingness to encourage the learners’ discovery of formal language properties in a reflective and autonomous manner.

1

Introduction

This essay reviews some of the key theoretical notions associated with second language acquisition and considers the pedagogical relevance of these notions. In order to relate the discussion to the practicalities of language teaching, we refer to the hypothetical case of ten adult learners of English, freshly arrived from Japan for a six-month course at a Canadian language school. These learners have earned their title of “mature students” not only from their middle age range, but also because their country’s Foreign Office selected them for their motivation to study English in Canada. Despite this promising background, two burning questions haunt the teacher: “how good is their English?” and “how much can I hope to improve it?”. We attempt to address these common concerns in light of contemporary theory of second language acquisition, by successively discussing the prevailing communicative approach to second language proficiency, the individuality of language learners, and some defining characteristics of the language...

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