LINGUIST List 12.1019

Wed Apr 11 2001

Disc: Review: Morgan & Cain/FL and Culture Learning

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Ronald SHEEN (UQTR-Langues modernes), Re: 12.987, Review: Morgan & Cain, Foreign Lg & Culture Learning

Message 1: Re: 12.987, Review: Morgan & Cain, Foreign Lg & Culture Learning

Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 17:40:16 -0400
From: Ronald SHEEN (UQTR-Langues modernes) <Ronald_SheenUQTR.UQuebec.CA>
Subject: Re: 12.987, Review: Morgan & Cain, Foreign Lg & Culture Learning

Stephen Bird in his review of
Carol Morgan, and Albane Cain (2000) Foreign Language and Culture
Learning from a Dialogic Perspective (Modern Languages in Practice 15),
Multilingual Matters, viii+160 pp., ISBN 1-85359-499-7, hardback, GBP
39.95. A paperback edition is also available, ISBN 1-85359-498-9.


> This 'decoding' of the students' work appears to be serving two purposes
> - as some kind of
>evidence that the project engaged the students in dialogues, hence learning

**In my review of Kelly & Verplaetz (who also adopted a dialogic approach),
I pointed out their and their contributors' continual contention that
learning was taking place. However, scant in the book was any empirical
evidence demonstrating that learning took place. In the case above, what
empirical evidence was presented to show that learning had taken place
because of the dialogues and if that learning resulted in the ability to
produce orally accurate language. I ask the question because there is much
empirical evidence available demonstrating that interaction ALONE will not
result in such an ability.

Ron Sheen U of Quebec in Trois Rivieres, Canada.

Further to my comment and question concerning the nature of the empirical 
evidence offered by the authors which Stephen Bird partly answers, a 
comment concerning the following from SB's review

>"But, as has already been said, the claim that authentic
>dialogue leads to learning really does not need any supporting evidence,
>and highly questionable evidence does nothing but make the text

Elsewhere in his review, SB appears to believe it unlikely to find a 
practising teacher-applied linguist who would not accept this as a truism 
almost. Well, he's found one. Clearly, nobody would deny that something 
rubs off after a certain quantity of dialogue, authentic or otherwise. The 
essential question concerns the nature of what is learned.
Those advocating the dialogic approach implicitly accept some degree of 
equivalence between the acquisition of the L1 and the target 
language. However, in the light of ubiquitous fossilisation, the high 
failure rate, the pidgins which develop from the exposure to interaction 
alone and the possibility that no post-puberty learner is capable of 
acquiring native speaker competence (see Bley-Vroman 1989 - "The logical 
problem of second language learning" and Foster 1998 - "A classroom 
perspective of the negotiation of meaning"), such a position is by no means 

Ron Sheen U of Quebec in Trois Rivieres, Canada.
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