Semiotics in Language Education

Semiotics in Language Education

Semiotics in Language Education

Semiotics in Language Education

Synopsis

"This book purposes that the challenges posed by classroom language learning could be studied much more profitably from the particular perspective of semiotic theory, than from the perspective of other sciences. Based on a series of research projects whose results show how powerful semiotics is as a framework for investigaing classroom language learning, it is written as an introductory text for teachers, educators, applied linguists, and anyone else interested in the contribution that semiotics can make to language education." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Students in high school, college, and university classrooms throughout the world customarily characterize their attempts to learn a new language as a monumental struggle, especially when they compare their efforts to how easily and naturally they were able to acquire their native language during infancy and childhood. Throughout the twentieth century, the question of why it is so difficult to master a second language in a classroom environment came to constitute a central preoccupation of language educators throughout the globe. Is there anything, they would constantly ask, that can be done in the classroom to make language learning less of a struggle, and more comparable to how the native language is acquired? Attempts to answer this question led to the founding of the discipline of applied (educational) linguistics which, during the last quarter of the century, developed into two branches known generally as second language acquisition research and second language teaching methodology.

The normal plan for resolving the problem of how to impart native-like fluency in the classroom was a relatively simple one; it consisted, basically, in extracting pedagogical principles from the scientific research on both language by linguists and on the learner by psychologists. These were then used to devise pedagogical practices and instructional materials that teachers were expected to adapt to their specific situations. The underlying assumption was that the degree of success of language learning was proportional to the degree to which the practices and materials were compatible with the prevailing linguistic and psychological theories, regardless of who was doing the teaching. But after a century of such practices, surveys continue to show that only a small fraction of all language students exposed to structured classroom instruction eventually achieve native-like proficiency. The vast majority of students, it would seem, are probably going to have to be content with learning approximations of the language, no matter how they are taught it.

As a teacher of Italian as a second language for over a quarter of a century, I too have been annoyed constantly by the many persistent . . .

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