Language Teaching: Linguistic Theory in Practice

Language Teaching: Linguistic Theory in Practice

Language Teaching: Linguistic Theory in Practice

Language Teaching: Linguistic Theory in Practice


How can theories of language development be understood and applied in your language classroom? By presenting a range of linguistic perspectives from formal to functional to cognitive, this book highlights the relevance of second language acquisition research to the language classroom. Following a brief historical survey of the ways in which language has been viewed, Whong clearly discusses the basic tenets of Chomskyan linguistics, before exploring ten generalisations about second language development in terms of their implications for language teaching. Emphasising the formal generative approach, the book explores well-known language teaching methods, looking at the extent to which linguistic theory is relevant to the different approaches. This is the first textbook to provide an explicit discussion of language teaching from the point of view of formal linguistics. Key features
• Deconstructs a lesson plan to show the translation of theory to classroom practice
• Provides 'For Discussion' sections at the end of every chapter
• Includes a Glossary of key terms and concepts in the field


Like many of the most difficult questions, the answer to this question may initially seem obvious because language is such a natural part of our lives. But, what is language? If you find you cannot answer this question very well, or if you find you have lots of possible answers to this question then you are one step closer to appreciating the complexity of language. As a language teacher, it is important to be able to explain what language is. Yet language – that which we are trying to teach – is not easily defined.

The first aim of this book is to discuss some of the many possible answers to the question of what is language. the second is to explore what we know about how knowledge of language develops. These ideas will provide a foundation for the ultimate aim of this book: to illustrate how an understanding of concepts in theoretical linguistics can lead to a better understanding of language teaching in the classroom. in this introductory chapter, we will briefly explore these three aims as a preview to the remainder of the book, beginning with the question of what language is.

The Form/Function Divide

Language can be characterised in terms of oppositions, a helpful exercise for teasing apart its complexity. One common opposition among researchers in linguistics is to see language as form versus language as function. Language as form is concerned with the structure of the language itself, while language as function is more interested in the work that a language does to facilitate interaction among people. the two views do not have to be seen as incompatible. in some ways they are, in fact, complementary.

Language as form is the more contemporary way of referring to a view of language that traces its roots to what was called Structuralism.

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