LINGUIST List 13.1518

Fri May 24 2002

Disc: Review, Applied Linguistics, Larsen-Freeman

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Ronald SHEEN, Re: 13.1434, Review: Applied Linguistics: Larsen-Freeman (2000)

Message 1: Re: 13.1434, Review: Applied Linguistics: Larsen-Freeman (2000)

Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 18:22:49 -0400
From: Ronald SHEEN <>
Subject: Re: 13.1434, Review: Applied Linguistics: Larsen-Freeman (2000)

In P. Llangoven's review of Larsen-Freeman's book "Techniques and
Principles in Language Teaching", it would appear that 'techniques'
are far more important than "principles". The question is then: "Does
this represent the priorities in the actual book? Possibly it does but
is it possible that she has produced a book concerned with the
principles underlying methods without addressing the issues related to
implicit-explicit learning, focus on form-focus on formS , the
learning-acquisition dichotomy, attention and noticing - of which the
reviewer makes no mention. At the very least, one has to relate any
principle underlying a method to its position on the
learning-acquisition dichotomy (Dulay et al., 1982). If one does not
do so, the principle underlying the method remains rather unclear.
Unfortunately, this is what has occurred in this review for in most
cases the reviewer seldom makes very clear what are the underlying
learning principles of each method. Does this also apply to the

To take two examples, The Direct Method and CLT are partly based on
some similarity between first language acquisition and SLA. Their
underlying principle is, therefore, that exposure to meaningful
language will trigger some form of the LAD and result in the
internalisation of grammatical systems. Yet, the reviewer does not
address this issue. He contends that "The chief tenets of this
approach are: using authentic language, unravelling a speaker's or
writer's intention, working with language at the discourse level ,
playing games..." These are certainly elements of the method..." but
without the underlying principle, they mean little. This particularly
applies to the strong version of CLT which the reviewer does not
mention. Did Larsen-Freeman not deal with it either?

As to task-based teaching, the reviewer makes no mention of Long's
important contribution to the developing of the doctrinaire principles
of this approach (Long, 1991; Long & Crookes, 1992). As
Larsen-Freeman produced an important book on applied linguistics with
him, (Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991) it would be very surprising had she
not mentioned his important role in TBT.

As to "learning" as opposed to "acquisition", this again is a
component of the principles underlying methods which it is essential
to address. All methods ascribe either implicitly or explicitly some
role to it. Defining this role is a necessary part of defining the
underlying principles of any method. It is impossible to faithfully
represent the principles of any method without making clear what that
role is.

As to the critical evaluation, it is surprising that the reviewer does
not point out the imbalance in terms of representation of methods in
the book. Methods which afford emphasis to learning as opposed to
acquisition are under-represented. There appears to be no mention in
the book of "cognitive-code learning" (Chastain, 1988) or "a
skills-learning approach" (DeKeyser, 1998). This constitutes a major
omission which seems difficult to explain. It is odd that the
reviewer has not noted this, particularly as in spite of many
innovations, most teachers in the world use exponents of these two
related methods.

Finally, to what I consider the most important aspect in any treatment
of methods: their success in the classroom. Innovations have largely
proved to be unsuccessful in terms of improvement in the effectiveness
of classroom language learning (Adams & Chen, 1981; Fullan, 1982;
Markee, 1993; Valette, 1991). Therefore, as it appears that
Larsen-Freeman advocates innovation, I would have expected the
reviewer to address this issue. The fact that he does not do so is
consistent with the rest of the review.


Adams, R. and Chen, D. (1981) The process of educational innovation: An 
international perspective. London: Kogan Page in association with the 
Chastain, K. (1988) Developing Second-Language Skills: Theory and Practice. 
New York: Harcourt Brace & Jovanovich.

DeKeyser, R.M. (1998). "Beyond focus on form: Cognitive perspectives on 
learning and practising second language grammar" in C. Doughty & J. Wlliams 
(Eds.) Focus on Form in Classroom Language Acquisition, (pp. 42-63) 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dulay, H., M. Burt & S. Krashen (1982) Language Two. New York: OUP.
Fullan, M. (1982) The meaning of educational change. New York: Teachers 
College Press.
Larsen-Freeman, D., & Long, M. H. (1991) An introduction to second language 
acquisition theory and research. London: Longman.

Long, M. H. (1991) "Focus on form: A design feature in language teaching 
methodology" In K. de Bot, R. Ginsberg, & C. Kramsch (Eds.) Foreign 
language research in cross-cultural perspective (pp. 39-52). Amsterdam: 
John Benjamins
Long, M.H., and Crookes, G. 1992. "Three approaches to task-based syllabus 
design". TESOL Quarterly 26/1, 27-56.

Markee, N. (1993). "The diffusion of innovation in language teaching" 
Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 13, 229-243

Valette, R.M. (1991) "Proficiency and the prevention of fossilization - an 
editorial" The Modern Language Journal, 75/3, 325-336.
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