The Relationship Between Linguistics and Language Teaching.
Fiona Le Maitre
This paper is an attempt to analyze the relationship between linguistics and language teaching. Linguistics is a science and teaching while technical is also an art yet they are closely related to each other in the case of language teaching. The foreign language teachers need to include ‘selection’, ‘grading’ and ‘presentation’ as their main steps. Linguistics plays an important role in the whole process of teaching by helping to facilitate a teacher’s understanding of the workings and systems of the language they teach. Applied Linguistics is really about the melding of these 2 actions.
The Relationship between Linguistics and Language Teaching.
Linguistics is defined as the scientific study of language. Linguistics is then divided into several branches which study different accepts of its use. Descriptive linguistics, historical and comparative linguistics, which it is based on methodology. Synchronic and Diachronic linguistics, which it is based on the aspect of changes over time. Phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, which is based on a language as a system. Sociolinguistics this is related to or combined with the disciplines of linguistics and sociology. Its interest is in the relationship between language and society. It works to explains why people Use different speech in different social contexts. It’s area of study is the social functions of language to convey social meaning.
The social relationships in a community, and the way people signal aspects of their social identity through their language (Jenet Holmes, 2001). Sociolinguistics also is concerned with the interaction of language and settings. (Carol M. Eastman, 1975; 113). The other expert defines it as the study that is concerned with investigating the relationship between language and society with the goal of a better understanding of the structure of language and of how languages function in communication ( Ronald Wardhaugh, 1986 : 12)
Psycholinguistics relates to the combined disciplines of psychology and linguistics. Psychology is defined as the systematic study of human experience and behavior or as the science that studies the behavior of men and other animals. Knight and Hilgert in Abu Ahmadi,(1992). It covers language development. (Lim Kiat Boey). The other definition of psycholinguistics is that it is the study of human language-to-language comprehension, language production, and language acquisition (E.M.Hatch)
The research done on the relationship between linguistic theory and language teaching can be traced back to the late 19th century. Its relationship has been discussed and debated for many years and researched extensively. Since this time different research proposed by different scholars has been disputable and found to be largely inconclusive. In the 1960s it was decided that there needed to be a reassessment. The conclusion that was formed went in two two main directions of thought with differing points of view. One viewpoint was that linguistics is not as relevant as it was first thought to be, and its importance was overrated.
Such linguists as Lamendella (1969) and Johnson (1967) expressed their disagreement to regard linguistics as the basis of a strategy of learning. Lamendella (1969) thought that it was a mistake to look to transformational grammar or any other theory of linguistic description to provide the theoretical basis for second language pedagogy. What is needed in the field of language teaching are not applied linguists but rather applied psychologists.
The other point of view was to recognize that the general contribution of linguistics was important. This came though with a proviso that teaching language was not to be bound to only follow one theory alone. The idea being that different linguistic theories can offer different perspectives on language, and they can all be treated as equivalent resources useful for teaching. Levenson (1979 ) once said, ‘no one school of linguistic analysis has a monopoly of truth in the description of the phenomena of speech…traditional school grammar, TG grammar, …all these and more can be shown to have their own particular relevance to the language teaching situation.
By1960 the United States, reached its peak of the influence of structural linguistics upon language Teaching. Structural linguistics stressed the importance of language as a system and investigates the place that linguistic units such as sounds, words and sentences have within this system. This then associated with behaviorism provided the principal theoretical basis of the audio lingual theory. This then influenced language teaching materials, techniques and the teachers educations.
Behaviorism led to theories, which explained how an external event, causes a change in the behavior, without any kind of mental interaction. It also stressed the importance of repetition and practice in learning a second language, this I think is a vital factor in learning a foreign language. If we look at the audio-lingual method, it emphasizes:
(1) The teaching of speaking and listening before reading and writing; (2) The use of dialogues and drills;
(3) The avoidance of the use of the mother tongue in the classroom. Audio-lingual method regards speaking and listening as the basic skills, this is in line with today’s English teaching situation.
The Mentalist Approach In the 1960s Chomsky formulated the mentalist approach. The hypothesis was considered that human behavior is much more complex than animal behavior. Chomsky, felt that we are born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), which enables a child to make a hypotheses about the structures of a language in general, and also the structure of the language being learned more importantly.
By the end of the sixties’, there were new developments in teaching language starting to occur. The TG theory had a big impact resulting in a change in teaching methods. It was opposed to the empiricist theory, that is, teaching audio linguistics, linguistically structuralism and psychologically behaviorism. TG theory.
1 It stresses mental activity.
2 It postulates that all human beings have an innate ability to learn a language. 3 That it is an inborn instinctual ability and not practice that made human beings obtain the rules of a language and understand and can produce countless numbers of sentences.
The Natural Method was successfully used in various language schools in the USA and Europe in the late 19th and the early 20th century. In the post-World War I decades, the direct method was adopted into English language teaching (ELT) this laid a solid intellectual and practical foundation for developing ELT as an autonomous profession.
Some linguists, like Diller (1970), openly declared his preference for the cognitive position; while others, like Chastain (1976) and Rivers (1981:25-27) held that the two theories were complementary and served different types of learners or teachers or represented different phases of the language learning process.
Applied Linguists brought about the situational approach and the notional/functional method. It is based on a broader framework for the description of language use called communicative competence proposed by Hymes, This brought about the communicative approach to language teaching came into being. In 1970s, a group of scholars including Oller (1970) and Widdowson (1978), were linguists but at also closely in touch with teaching practice. They gave language teaching and language pedagogy the linguistic direction they regarded as necessary.
Since they were in touch with language teaching practice and linguistic so had a two-way view of the problem, they placed emphasis on real language and its communication and use. To take Oller’s interest in pragmatics as an example. Oller (1970:507) claimed that pragmatics has implications for language teaching; it defines the goal of teaching a language as prompting the students not merely to manipulate meaningless sound sequences, but to send and receive messages in the language.
The students in China start English when they are in primary school. In the past, more attention was paid to the grammar, the result was very disappointing: Now the emphases is on speaking and listening. The audio-lingual method is now used in the classroom. In China, more people need to learn English in order to have the ability to communicate with foreigners. In this case, speaking and listening is much more important than being able to read and write. They are not expected to have a high level of English and their aim is simple, they need to communicate with a foreigner so they can understand their words and express themselves well. This is based on simple daily conversation. A market sale and business or being able to work in the tourism industries. Basic conversation and understanding can be very helpful in everyday conversation exchanges.
The Audio-lingual method stressed the repetition and it theorizes that a language is learnt through the formation of habits. To speak English fluently, without constant practice, is impossible. So in our English teaching, we must help our students speak and listen well. Expressing ourselves properly is not always an easy thing, especially if it’s an emotionally charged topic. Even an English major may sometimes find it problematic to express exactly what they mean so it is understood by the other person in a way that is understood by all.
When I go to Cambodia I find the generally that the population though not taught English in school has good English conversation capacity. They may not read or write but I feel if they had the opportunity to learn now they have grasped the basic language that they would with more ease. There is a need for them to talk and sell to foreigners so they have had a need and incentive to learn and the fact that their using it every day also helps. Though there are of course talented students I find in Thailand the communication level is not good as a lot of emphases is but on reading, writing and grammar, that many times, is not really understood or comprehended.
Thai students learn form primary but they do not always have a reason to speak out of the classroom. One lesson a week in speaking and 3 of grammar I find makes the students scared to use the language. I teach with Thailand teachers and due to a some general pronunciation problems the students are confused about the sounds of the words and how to string them together. Confidence helps a lot just talking even if it is wrong. I always attempt to inspire confidence as I feel it is very important for speech.
In my opinion, linguistics and language teaching relationship is a dual one. There are some theories of linguistics that can be applied to language teaching, i.e. linguistics guides in development of language teaching theory. On the other hand, a language teaching theory expresses or implies answers to questions about the nature of language. It is necessary for a language teacher has some knowledge about, the systems of languages. A teacher should understand how the language works and expresses meaning and the structures that are used in the language being taught. A teacher needs to know how to make the phonic sounds and the mechanics to produce these sounds.
This helps with pronunciation problems that students will encounter. By studying linguistics a teacher will have a deeper insight into the nature of language and the language the student speaks as they’re first language.
If we agree that the use of a language is a matter of habits and practice, then a teacher needs to implant the habit of using it for communication until it becomes second nature.
Linguistic theory is continually developing and teaching theories are constantly changing as is the language itself. This alone demands a permanent study of languages and the relationships between linguistic theory and language teaching methods. There are many techniques and theories but no one concept or technique can take in the Different needs student may have and the differing ways people learn. This is a science in its self. There can be many differences in understanding between the L1 and L2 language from different cultural understandings and different sounds that may be new to the learner. There are many ways a culture will express its self along with idiosyncrasies and local knowledge of the everyday life in the culture.
They say when you understand humor you start to know a language. If one could take every student as an individual and teach them the best way they learnt one would be assured of good results. Knowing the basic individual attributes the child had can enable to teacher to create classes designed for their individual needs. This is a luxury that tutors can give their students but in the classroom one dose not have so much control. A practical framework designed to suit the most students and the context that is the most appropriate.
The Relationship of Linguistic Materials for the Second Language Teacher.
Because of political, economic and also technical changes, English has become widely taught as an official business language worldwide, also as a second language to immigrants in English-speaking countries to gain entry and work, and as a foreign language in many non-English-speaking countries. This is also largely due to the computer so there is a universal language for coding and business. There are many theories on different ways to teach and different scholarly thoughts on the best process. I feel that this depends on the type of English you are teaching. Since there are many different needs a student may have. In China the emphases is on communication with foreigners on a daily basis like selling them something in a market or doing business.
In other countries such as Thailand the emphases is put on Grammar and writing and reading and only a small part into communication. So while there are still many theories on the best way to teach I feel in my knowledge so far that it is best to learn as many ways as possible and how they work in the
different environments. Applied Linguistics is really about the melding of these two actions but not the scope of this essay. One of the most fantastic Linguistic help I think the corpus is one of the best ways to get relevant vocabulary for your students. This is helpful for Syllabus and curriculum planning and for all areas of language teaching.
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