The Study of Different Language Views Prevalent in Teaching a Second Language: Evidence from Iranian Efl Learners

By Sherafat, Zahra; Vahdany, Fereidoon et al. | Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, June 2014 | Go to article overview

The Study of Different Language Views Prevalent in Teaching a Second Language: Evidence from Iranian Efl Learners


Sherafat, Zahra, Vahdany, Fereidoon, Arjmandi, Masoomeh, Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods


Abstract

The present study investigates the distinction between two language views prevalent in English institutes: "language as system" vs. "language as discourse". Finding out the dominant linguistic approach in the teaching method at intermediate level was the goal of the study. To investigate the dominant approach in teaching method, 15 intermediate English classes were surveyed. Based on a questionnaire that all of the English learners of Rezvanshahr institutes (Guilan province, Iran) answered it, 15 teachers who got the best scores, were chosen for this study. Two checklists were developed the items of which represented the views of "language as system" and "language as discourse" to survey the views in the teachers' method of teaching. The data retrieved from the observations was analyzed through the nonparametric test namely Wilcoxon. The results indicated that the means of the two language views were significantly different and the prevalent language view in teaching was language as system.

Keywords: System, Discourse.

1. Introduction

Language teaching came into its own as a profession in the twentieth century. The whole foundation of contemporary language teaching was developed during the early part of the twentieth century, as applied linguists and others sought to develop principles and procedures for the design of teaching methods and materials, drawing on the developing fields of linguistics and psychology to support a succession of proposals for what were thought to be more effective and theoretically sound teaching methods. Language teaching in the twentieth century was characterized by frequent changes and innovations and by the development of sometimes competing teaching ideologies.

Many researchers in the field of applied linguistics have been trying to find out teaching methods, classroom techniques, and instructional materials that would promote better language instruction. The theoretical concepts already discussed have helped applied linguists to derive useful conceptual guidelines about language teaching. They are aimed at addressing questions such as what is language, and what does it mean to know and use a language. They form the bases for effective language teaching. Kumaravadivelu (2006) observed:

Knowing an L2 may be considered as having linguistic knowledge /ability and pragmatic knowledge/ ability required to use the language with grammatical accuracy and communicative appropriacy (p24)

The task of the teacher in the context of classroom-based L2 learning and teaching, is to help learners reach a desired level of linguistic and pragmatic knowledge. That addresses their needs and wants. In order to carry out such a task, the teacher should be aware of the factors and processes that are considered to facilitate L2 development an important aspect of L2 development is the conversion of language input into learner output.

2.1 Language as System

Over recent years, there has been considerable work in attempting to understand various aspects of speech and language in terms of dynamical systems. Some of the most elegant and well-developed work has focused on motor control, particularly within the domain of speech. One of the principal challenges has been whether or not these dynamical systems can deal in a satisfactory way with the apparently recursive nature of grammatical structure.

Unlike Chomskey who, as we all know, focused on the "ideal" speaker-hearer and abstract body of syntactic structures, Hymes, one of the critics of Chomskey, focused on the "real" speaker-hearer who operates in the concrete world of interpersonal communication.. As Kumaravadivelu (2006) wrote:

Hymes maintains that in order to operate successfully within a speech community, a person has to be not just grammatically correct but communicatively appropriate also, that is, a person has to learn what to say, how to say it, when to say it and to whom to say it (p.117)

Crucial to understanding language is the idea of systematicity. …

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