中学英语教学法 Unit 1 Language and Learning
主讲教师:陈道明 (华南师范大学外文学院)
Unit 1 Language and Learning

Views on language Views on language learning What is a good language teacher, and how can one become such?

  1.1 How do we learn language? Task 1 on pp. 1-2


How many foreign languages can you speak? Did you find learning a foreign language easy? What difficulties did you experience? Why? Which skill did you find more difficult to learn? Did you focus on knowledge or skills? Why? Why did you learn the foreign language(s)? Did you find it interesting to learn the foreign language(s)? What were your most common learning activities? Did you like the way you learned the foreign language(s)?
Conclusions of the task
People learn a foreign language for different reasons; People learn languages in different ways; People have different understandings about language learning; and People have different capabilities in language learning.

  1.2 Views on language
The answer to the question ‘What is language?’ is the basis for: syllabus design, teaching methods, teaching procedures, and teaching techniques
Task 2 (p.
  2) What is language?
Sample definitions of “language” (p. 1
  77) Language: is a system/set of symbols; is (primarily) vocal; is arbitrary and conventional; consists of a set of rules (and is rule-governed); is related to culture; is used for human communication or interaction.
Three different views of language
The structural view, The functional view, The interactional view
The structural view
The structural view sees language as a linguistic system.
The system of language = the system of sounds + the system of words + the system of grammar
The structural view
System of Language
Sounds Words Grammar
3 sub-systems
The structural view
Sentences phrases Words Morphemes (the smallest meaningful unit) Phonemes (the smallest unit)
The structural view Syntactic system (phrases & sentences) …
Morphological/Lexical system (morphemes & words)
Phonological system (Phonemes )
The functional view (The functional-notional view)
The functional view sees language as a linguistic system and as a means for doing things.
Functions of language
e.g. offering, suggestion, advising, apologizing, etc.
To perform functions, rules and vocabulary are needed to express notions.
e.g. present time, past time, and future time; certainty and possibility; agent and instrument; relationship between people and objects
The interactional view The interactional view sees language as a communicative tool (to build up and maintain relations between people).
Two things are needed for communication:
Rules of language form (grammar & vocabulary) Rules of language use in a context (Is it appropriate to use this language item in this context?)
Views on the nature of language have an impact on the teaching/learning method of a person.

  1.3 Views on language learning
Views on language learning involve two questions:
  1. What are the psycholinguistic and cognitive processes of language learning?
  2. What are the conditions for the learning processes to be activated?
The Process-oriented theories and The Condition-oriented theories
The Process-oriented theories
The Process-oriented theories concern how the mind processes new information. e.g. habit formation, induction, making inference, hypothesis testing, generalization
The Condition-oriented theories
The Condition-oriented theories concern the nature of the human and physical context in which language learning takes place. e.g. number of students, what kind of input learners receive, learning atmosphere
The Behaviourist theory and The Cognitive theory
The Behaviourist theory
Watson an Raynor:
a stimulus-response theory of psychology
The Behaviourist theory
According to the theory: Forms of bebaviour such as motions, habits, etc. are seen as elements that can be observed and measured.
The Behaviourist theory
“You can train an animal to do anything (within reason) if you follow a certain procedure which has three major stages, stimulus, response, and reinforcement.” (Harmer. 1983:
The Behaviourist theory
Reinforcement (behavior likely to occur again and become a habit) No Reinforcement (behavior not likely to occur again )
Stimulus → Organism → Response Behavior
The Behaviourist theory
Skinner: Language is also a form of behaviour. USA: The Audio-Lingual Method (the “listen-and-repeat” drilling activities). Mistakes were immediately corrected.
The Cognitive theory
Chomsky’s question:
If all language is a learned behaviour, how can a child produce a sentence that has never been said by others before? e.g. 五岁女孩:“中国队加油!外国队漏 油!”(20
Chomsky: Language is not a form of behaviour. It is an intricate (complicated) rule-based system. (Language is rule-governed.) There are a finite number of grammatical rules in the system and with knowledge of these rules an infinite number of sentences can be produced.(Language is generative. )
The impact of Chomsky’s theory on language teaching
One influential idea is that students should be allowed to create their own sentences based on their understanding of certain rules. This idea is clearly in opposition to the Audio-Lingual Method.

  1.4 What is a good language teacher?
Ethic devotion Professional quality Personal style
kind, dynamic, authoritative, speaking clearly, creative, patient, well-informed, hardworking, resourceful (having the ability to find a way round the difficulty), attentive, warmhearted well-prepared, flexible, intuitive, accurate, enthusiastic, humourous, caring, disciplined, professionally-trained (Parrot. 19

  1.5 How can one become a good language teacher?
Teaching: is it a craft, or is it an applied science? If we take teaching as a craft, then we would believe that a novice teacher can learn the profession by imitating the experts’ techniques, just like an apprentice. If we take teaching as an applied science, then we would believe that knowledge and experimentation are necessary.
A compromise between the two views by Wallace (19
Stage 1: Language training Stage 2: 3 sub-stages:
  1) learning;
  2) practice;
  3) reflection Stage 3: Goal (professional competence)
What does the double arrow between Stage 1 and Stage 2 mean? In which stage does this course take place? Why are Practice and Reflection connected by a circle?
Summary of Unit 1
Views on language
The structural view, the functional view, and the interactional view
Views on language learning
The Process-oriented theories and the Conditionoriented theories The Behaviourist theory and the Cognitive theory
Qualities of a good language teacher
Ethic devotion, professional quality, and personal style The three stages of becoming a good language teacher
End of Unit 1
Thank you!



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