LINGUIST List 13.2995

Mon Nov 18 2002

Review: Applied Ling: Schmitt (2002)

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  1. Ronald Sheen, Schmitt (2002) An Introduction to Applied Linguistics

Message 1: Schmitt (2002) An Introduction to Applied Linguistics

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 09:27:39 -0500
From: Ronald Sheen <>
Subject: Schmitt (2002) An Introduction to Applied Linguistics

Schmitt, Norbert, ed. (2002) An Introduction to Applied Linguistics.
Arnold Publishers, viii+339pp, paperback ISBN 0-340-76419-8, $24.95.

Ron Sheen, Associate professor of applied linguistics and English,
University of Quebec in Trois-Rivi�res, Quebec, Canada.

[This book has not yet been announced on the LINGUIST List. --Eds.]

This volume aims to provide a 'sophisticated introduction' to the field
of applied linguistics (AL). It does so in sixteen chapters divided
into the following sections: An overview; I. Description of language
and language use containing five chapters; II. Essential areas of
enquiry in AL containing four chapters; III Language skills and
assessment containing 5 chapters. Then, there is an added chapter
providing suggested solutions to the problems posed in the 'Hands on
Activities' in chapters 2-15.

Each chapter is written by at least two applied linguists, considered
specialists in the domain of their chosen chapters. Each chapter is
written and organised in order to be maximally user-friendly given the
constraints of the subject matter. Thus, each one comprises a general
introduction to the specific subject matter pointing out areas of
importance and provides some acquaintance with the research methodology
and orientations thereof. Crucially, in my view, the editor has
insisted on all authors' devoting a section to 'pedagogical
implications'. This is where proposals stand or fall - as will be seen
from the discussion of the contents of the individual chapters Most
importantly, given the introductory nature of the book, each chapter
provides the opportunity for practical work in the form of 'Hands-on
Activities' in which readers are provided with relevant data to
consider in order to offer an analysis and interpretation which they
can then compare with the suggested solutions of the authors concerned
provided in the final chapter.

Although the book contains chapters on psycholinguistics and
sociolinguistics not directly concerned with language teaching, the
large majority of chapters do have this as the primary focus as is
indicated by having each chapter devote a section to pedagogical
implications. This concentration possibly explains the absence from
the book of chapters on such areas as 'language planning', 'evaluation
of second and foreign language programmes' and 'curriculum renewal',
areas normally included in AL.

There now follows a summary of each chapter. In each case, I will add
evaluative comments in additon to making a final critical evaluation.

Chapter 1: 'An overview of AL' by Norbert Schmitt and Marianne Celce-

This chapter first provides a definition of AL which is as follows: 'AL
is using what we know about (a) language, (b) how it is learned and (c)
how it is used, in order to achieve some purpose or solve some problem
in the real world.'. It then traces the development of AL from what it
considers its beginnings with the concern of the Ancient Greeks with
various aspects of writing, a starting point with which Germain (1993)
might not agree as he traces it back to the Sumerians. Then, omitting
to discuss the influence of the inductivism of Comenius and the
ironically practical intentions of grammar translation, it jumps to the
19th and 20th centuries to cover the swings and roundabouts of
methodological change from Grammar Translation through the Direct
Method, Audiolingualism, Communicative Language Teaching and the most
recent development of a 'focus on form'. It then examines developments
arising from holistic and integrative approaches as opposed to the more
tradional discrete-points approach.

Chapter 2: 'Grammar' by Jeanette DeCarrico and Diane Larsen-Freeman

This chapter first clarifies the differences between prescriptive,
descriptive and pedagogical grammars and then goes on to address the
problems of writing descriptive grammars posed by variant and invariant
rules. It then discusses different theoretical grammars with
particular reference to the implications on pedagogical approaches of
emphasis on form or function. It further deals with 'discourse
grammar' and 'lexicogrammar' using the latter to introduce the problem
of establishing the boundaries between lexis and grammar. Finally, it
addresses the issues of learning and teaching grammar. As far as
'learning' is concerned, it summarises the underlying learning theories
of audiolingualism and CLT and then goes on to discuss the question of
the necessity for explicit learning of grammar. It accepts this but
supports the contemporary proscription of separate grammar lessons
without, unfortunately, addressing the problem posed by the fact that
many complex rules of grammar do not lend themselves to treatment
during maximum 60 second breaks from communicative activity proposed by
Lightbown (1998). As far as 'teaching grammar' is concerned, the
authors sensibly underline its necessity providing it is supported by
productive practice in meaningful contexts.

Welcome in this chapter is the reservation expressed concerning the
value of one of the current 'buzz' concepts in SLA: 'noticing' which
has spawned countless articles recounting research using a variety of
imaginative means of having students 'notice' grammatical features.
Unfortunately, such 'noticing' has not been demonstrated to result in
effective learning bringing about improvement in productive skills, a
result which justifies the authors' position.

On a less positive note, the authors fall in line with the contemporary
rejection of the possibility that it is feasible to learn grammatical
features one after another. This, they base on the assumption of the
validity of Pienemann's (1998) developmental sequences and principles
of 'learnability' and 'teachabiility'. Unfortunately, they omit to
point out that nowhere in the literature has it been demonstrated that
the application of Pienemann's ideas to normal classrooms to be more
effective than that of syllabi based on sequential teaching of
grammatical features. Further, they fail to make clear that countless
numbers of fluent speakers of second languages began their learning
with such sequential learning. The dismal record of the application of
such theoretical ideas as those of Pienemann to the classroom is such
that applied linguists need to base their recommendations on what can
be supported by the empirical evidence available and not on the
empirically-unsupported hypotheses of applied linguists. Fortunately,
except for this one example, the authors demonstrate an eminently
sensible eclecticism which clearly derives from experience in the

Chapter 3. 'Vocabulary' by Paul Nation and Paul Meara

This chapter deals with all the relevant areas of vocabulary which have
captured the attention of applied linguists since research on
vocabulary learning gained respectability in the early 80's such as:
definition of what constitutes a word particularly in relation to
multi-word units such as 'at the end of the day' and 'good morning';
word frequency and its relevance for which vocabulary should have
priority in the learning process; dictionary use; assessing vocabulary
knowledge. However, what is given deserved prominence in the chapter
is the section on 'How should vocabulary be learned?' Here it follows
in the thankfully-non-doctrinaire approach which has characterized
vocabulary studies in the last two decades. (See, for example, Coady
and Huckin, 1997). It thus deals with learning vocabulary both from
context and through direct learning. Following Nation's (1982) lead,
it thus frees teachers from the unmotivated constraints of the 70's
which maintained that vocabulary should only be learned from context
and made teachers feel guilty for resorting to L1 equivalents, paired
lists and other strategies associated with direct learning. The
authors state quite clearly that 'Studies comparing incidental
vocabulary learning with direct vocabulary learning characteristically
show that direct learning is more effective.' They then provide a whole
range of useful strategies for implementating such learning. However,
at the same time, they also deal with situations in which context
based-learning may have a contribution to make.

Chapter 4. Discourse Analysis by Michael McCarthy, Christian
Mathiessen and Diana Slade.

These three authors define discourse analysis as the analysis of
language in its social context, both written and oral, and demonstrate
its relevance to the classroom. They then provide an overview of the
diverse ways in which various fields have exploited it: sociology in
conversation analysis; sociolinguistics in ethnography and variation
theory, various schools of linguistics in the contributions made by
rigorous analyses based on recordings of real conversations. In a
similar context, it underlines the important contribution made by
corpus linguistics. The latter part of the chapter addressees issues
nearer to the hearts of practising teachers in dealing with differences
between the grammar of spoken and written English and in the lexical
patterns identifiable in spoken English. It concludes by discussing
pedagogical implications, proposing that they mainly lie in making both
teacher trainers, materials writers and teachers, themselves, aware of
the true nature of both written and spoken language. Thankfully, it
makes no claims, unsupported or otherwise, as to how discourse analysis
may improve the effectiveness of language teaching

Chapter 5. Pragmatics by Helen Spencer-Oatey and Vladimir Zegarac.

The authors begin by establishing the credentials for Pragmatics by
explaining the necessity to go beyond the code-model as a means of
explaining the nature of communication. It then adopts an approach
which will endear it to readers new to the field. Rather than dealing
with abstractions, it deals with an extract from a real conversation
and uses the principles of pragmatics to illustrate how enlightening it
is to compare the meaning as provided by a code-model and a pragmatics-
model. Thus, in the conversation about plans for the evening between a
Greek and English student sharing a flat in London, the authors
demonstrate, among other things, the one-up-manship manifested by the
English student in the ironic use of the expression 'Nice one' when the
Greek student mentions a club she frequents which the English student
would not be seen dead in. However, the authors would appear to have a
constrained perception of the code-model if they contend that it is
unable to provide for such analyses.

This conversation is further used as a means of explaining pragmatic
meaning, assigning reference in context, assigning sense in context,
inferring illocutionary force, and working out implicated meaning. It
then moves to the broader concerns of the field in discussing the
impact of social factors, context, conversational patterns and
structures, and research paradigms and methods.

It concludes with what again will appeal to teachers: Implications for
language teaching, learning and use. Here, teachers will find of
particular interest the issue of the 'possibility (or likelihood) of
pragmatic transfer'. That is, the transferring of pragmatic factors
from the L1 to the L2, resulting in the loss or distortion of intended
meaning. However, such readers will be disappointed for this section
provides no concrete examples to illustrate this underlying principle.
This is surprising given the authors' concern with concrete examples
shown by the initial use of an actual conversation and the myriad
examples apparent to anyone aware of bilingual contexts. It would
surely have been easy to provide such examples. One amongst many
springs to mind from my own experience here in Quebec. Here, one might
offer to do someone a favour by enabling that person to participate in
some activity or other. In an anglophone context, a normal response
would be something like, 'Gee, thanks. I'd love to.' Here, the
response more often than not is '�a ne me d�range pas.', meaning, 'I
don't mind.', which when first encountered might make the offerer wish
he had not bothered.

Chapter 6. Corpus Linguistics by Randi Reppen and Rita Simpson

The authors usefully provide the following four features as a means of
describing this field:

a) It is empirical, analysing the actual patterns of use in natural
b) It utilizes a large and principled collection of natural texts,
known as a corpus, as the basis for analysis.
c) It makes extensive use of computers for analysis, using both
automatic and interactive techniques.
d) It depends on both quantitative and qualitative techniques.

It then goes on to exemplify these features by discussing the various
uses to which corpus linguistics has been put such as in general
corpora aiming to provide a faithful representation of the language in
general as opposed to specialized corpora, something of a growth area
in the field, dealing with fascinating areas such as differences
between dialects, diachronic studies and the 'slanguage' of teenagers.

The chapter also points out the major role played by computers in
allowing analysts to carry out a myriad of procedures permitting highly
sophisticated analyses. However, at the same time, the authors rightly
make clear that although computers have now become an essential tool of
corpus linguistics, much useful work was carried out in the field
before computers became a defining feature of modern life in the new

A final section is devoted to 'How can Corpora inform Language
Teaching?' and provides a selection of uses enabling teachers to become
aware of the true nature of the language which they wish students to
learn. They also offer a number of activities allowing students to
carry out their own analyses of corpora. They perceive of this as
bringing students to a better understanding of the aspects of the
language concerned. This may well stimulate interest in the short term
thanks partly to the novelty of the task involved. However, it takes
but a moment's thought to realise that an experienced teacher can
provide the knowledge involved very efficiently in a brief explanation
whereas it would take a great deal of time to acquire the same
knowledge by means of corpus analysis.

The example they give is of interest here. They take the uses of
'turn', 'go' and 'come' as meaning 'become'. They point out that
though dictionaries often consider the three words as synonyms in this
sense, corpus analysis reveals that 'turn' is used when a change of
colour is involved (He turned green at the thought of eating snails.),
'go' when a negative result is meant. (The meat went bad after being
left out of the fridge.) and 'come' indicating a change to a more
active state. (He came alive at the thought of seeing her again.).
However, the first dictionary I turned to on reading this was Harrap's
Essential English Dictionary which gives the use of 'turn' with colours
but also provides counter-examples such as 'The weather turned stormy';
'He suddenly turned nasty' . Moreover, nowhere did I find any
dictionary contending that these three words were synonyms when meaning
'become'. Further, resorting to the antithesis of corpus analysis,
introspection, I came up with several counter-examples in a few minutes
of thinking about the problem. For example, one says: 'His legs turned
to jelly at the thought of taking the deciding penalty.'; 'The milk
turned sour'; 'After talking animatedly all evening, he suddenly went-
turned all quiet when his boss came in.'. As to the use of 'come'
meaning 'become', it has an extremely limited number of uses; however,
I could find no counter-examples off the top of my head. Nor could I
find any in the dictionaries I consulted.

The lesson here for practitioners of corpus analysis is not to be so
dazzled by the potential of computer analysis to forget the
achievements of dictionary-makers. The case in point is not to the
credit of the authors even though they were repeating an example from
elsewhere. They should surely have done a little more work before
stating 'Most dictionaries provide no clues to how these words might
differ in meaning'.

Apart from this, however, the chapter provides a very complete account
of corpus linguistics which will serve readers well.

Chapter 7 Second Language Acquisition by Nina Spada and Patsy Lightbown

This chapter provides a thorough account of the expanding field of SLA
dealing with: theories of L2 learning; universal grammar; monitor
theory; psychological perspectives including behaviourism, cognitive
psychology, connectionism and the multidimensional model going on to
devote a good deal of space to developmental sequences and L1 influence
in a section on learner language. It concludes with a section on what
will most interest teachers: instruction and second language
acquisition. Here it provides an adequate account of current issues
concerning the nature of instruction. Unfortunately, it chooses not to
address the issue underlying their conclusion that instructional input
has greater value when it is explicit. This begs the question for the
burning issue concerns the degree to which it needs to be explicit.
The position of Lightbown (1998) is that most instruction should be
carried out in no more than 60-second breaks from communicative
activity. Others such as Doughty and Williams (1998) and Lyster
(1998:186) are more circumspect. The latter states that the issue of
the explicitness of instruction remains "...the centre of much
debate.", revealing that his research justifies no conclusion in favour
of "focus on form" over a "focus on formS". Others, such as myself,
contend that Lightbown's prescription is wholly unjustified based on
the available empirical evidence and, more importantly, wholly
inadequate given the nature of the pedagogical rules involved and the
practicalities of the classroom.

This is an issue where one would like to have been able to promote the
helpful role of AL in L2 language teaching. Unfortunately, this is not
possible. Advocacies of language teaching approaches presented by
applied linguists have been largely motivated by doctrinaire positions
on the nature of SLA and NOT by the available empirical evidence and,
most importantly, NOT by the positive trialling in real classrooms -
which possibly explains the failure of such advocacies. Unfortunately,
the authors omit to address this issue and, therefore, continue to
present the relationship between AL and language teaching as being far
rosier than it actually is.

To conclude this account of this chapter, I'll make some comments on
the authors' treatment of 'developmental sequences' and this, because
it reveals something of a syndrome of the relationship between SLA
research and L2 language teaching and learning.. As previously stated,
in this book, AL is defined as a field using what we know about (a)
language, (b) how it is learned and (c) how it is used, in order to
achieve some purpose or solve some problem in the real world. In the
case of studies in SLA, there are two broad groups: those whose aim is
to construct a theory of SLA without being concerned with its immediate
relevance to the real world of classroom language learning. Then there
are those such as the two authors who are very much concerned with this
real problem and have rightly based much of their work on classroom-
based research.

 No problem here. Academics are largely free to pursue their research
wherever their interests take them. A major problem arises, however,
when applied linguists such as the authors endeavour to apply to the
real world of classroom language learning concepts such as
'developmental sequences' which contend that in acquiring certain
grammatical features such as negatives and interrogatives, L2-learners
are constrained to pass through developmental stages as, though
instruction may accelerate passage through a stage, it does not permit
learners to miss one out. The authors contend that the existence of
such stages 'is widely accepted' (p. 122). This does not reflect
reality. Further, even the research findings in the authors' own work
do not justify the relevance of developmental sequences to classroom
language learning as indeed Lightbown recognises elsewhere (Lightbown,
1998). Such sequences derive from Pienemann's processability theory.
(See, particularly, Pienemann 1998.) However, rather than being widely
accepted, it has provoked the expression of serious reservations on the
part of such well-known figures in AL such as Schachter, Kempen,
Hulstjin, and de Bott, published in the same volume in their responses.

Further, even though the authors in their chapter present the stages
through which learners 'must pass' in the acquisition of
interrogatives, their own work provides no supportive evidence. Spada
and Lightbown (1993) conducted a study on the development of questions
by 10-12 year old ESL learners in Quebec. The report on the study
provides scant evidence of the production of any question forms at all,
there being no more than ten in the whole article and none of these is
linked to a single learner. There is, therefore no evidence whatsoever
of developmental sequences. More importantly, in Lightbown et al.
(2002) there is an account of a six-year longitudinal study of ESL in a
comprehension-based programme in New Brunswick, Canada. Somewhat
surprisingly, there is no provision of the actual oral production of
the learners concerned and, therefore, no evidence of learners passing
through any developmental stages. This is partially supported by my
own study (Sheen, 2003) which explored the production of questions by
students similar to those in Spada and Lightbown (1993). At the
beginning of the study, the students had been exposed for two years to
strong communicative language teaching and, therefore, had had no
explicit instruction. At that point, most were producing what is
termed 'wh-fronting, no inversion' (e.g. Where the boy go?) which is
classed as stage 3 in terms of developmental sequences. However,
according to the teacher, this is a form that some students used when
they first began asking questions. Then, eight months after the study
began, the students in the control group who had had no instruction,
continued to produce those same forms. On the other hand, the students
in the experimental group who had received explicit instruction on
question forms demonstrated an ability to produce orally forms such as
' Where does your father work?' one month into the study. Of
importance is also the fact that in grammaticality judgment tests at
the end of the study (not included in Sheen, 2003), only about 5% of
the EG as opposed to over 25% of the control group still considered the
no-inversion structure as being correct. Supporters of the existence
of developmental sequences might respond to this by contending that it
supports the hypothesis that instruction accelerates passage through a
stage. However such a riposte loses much of its force when one
realises that in studies carried out on Quebec secondary graduating
students (Sheen, 1999) the large majority of ordinary students are
still producing questions with no inversion. That is, in many cases
such students have been producing the same no-inversion interrogative
structure for between six and eight years. Further, much to the dismay
of professors, a good number of students in TESL programmes at
university are still unable to spontaneously produce third person
interrogatives with correct inversions. Surely, such a finding must be
considered valid counter evidence against the existence of
developmental sequences - at least in Quebec.

I have spent some time on this point as it illustrates a tendency
amongst applied linguists such as Spada and Lightbown who present the
situation concerning the relationship between studies in SLA and
classroom language learning in a far more favourable light than it
deserves (See Spada, 1997 and Lightbown, 2000). The reality is that
applied linguists would be hard put to identify any empirically-
verifiable improvement which has accrued from the influence of SLA
research concerns on classroom language learning. In fact, the
opposite may be the case. (See Valette, 1991) Given this, it is
unfortunate that applied linguists have not manifested more
accountability in terms of this failure. Therefore, though one would
not want the authors to display all the dirty laundry of AL in such an
introductory text, one has the right to expect an account of the
relevance of such issues as developmental sequences to second language
learning to be presented in a way which at least bears some resemblance
to reality.

Chapter 8. by Kees de Bot and Judith F. Kroll
The authors begin with a succinct definition of psycholinguistics:
'...the study of the cognitive processes that support the acquisition
and use of language.', adding that it may include studies of language
performance in both normal and abnormal circumstances. However, given
the nature of the book, they justifiably devote the chapter to the
treatment of psycholinguistics as it relates to bilinguals, defining
that term in the broad sense as 'individuals who are acquiring or
actively using more than one language'. Though this approach would in
a longer work require treatment of a myriad of issues, the authors
focus on 'the way in which psycholinguists construct cognitive models
to characterize the representations and processes that underlie
language performance.'

One might question this choice of focus as a means of introducing the
role applied linguistics has played in studies in bilingualism given
that it has already achieved much in addressing such fundamental
questions as 'Is L2 acquisition different from L1 acquisition?' or 'To
what extent does the L1 play a role in using the L2?'. It might,
therefore, have been preferable to discuss the achievements of AL
rather than throwing readers into the deep end, so to speak, in
discussing more cutting-edge issues. However, the choice the authors
have made does have the advantage of introducing readers to intriguing
questions concerning how bilinguals keep their two languages separate
and how they do manage not to use words from one language while
speaking the other. They do this by introducing the performance model
of Levelt (1999) and explain how it helps in answering the above
questions by using components such as the 'conceptualizer' and the
'formulator' in describing the process of performance from the pre-
verbal stage to actual utterance.

The final part of the chapter is devoted to illustrative research in
SLA and bilingualism, introducing domains such as the 'non-selective
nature of lexical access', 'developing lexical proficiency in a second
language' and the fascinating issue of 'language attrition' an area
with which I seem to be acquiring more and more first-hand knowledge by
the day.

The chapter concludes with a brief glance at the implications of the
theoretical research described. Here it suggests that research on
bilingualism may finally put an end to the myth that being bilingual
will have a negative effect on cognitive processing. In my view, no
such myth should be allowed to discourage parents from giving to their
off-spring the inestimable gift of natural bilingualism and, failing
that, encouraging them to become post-puberty bilinguals to escape from
the confines of monolingualism.

Chapter 9. Sociolinguistics by Carmen Llamas and Peter Stockwell

The chapter begins by addressing the tricky question of arriving at an
informative definition of the field beyond 'the study of language in
society'. After discussing the difficulty of rendering compatible the
desirable objectivity of sociolinguistic description with the ethical
questions inextricably involved in questions of culture and social
class, the authors offer the definition, 'the study of language
variation and language change'.

They proceed to a discussion of issues in sociolinguistics such as
'idiolect and sociolect', 'standard, non-standard and codification',
prestige, stigmatization and language loyalty', 'dialect, accent and
language planning' and 'speech communities'. They then devote an
important part of the chapter to the issue of language variation
without which the field would, of course, not exist. To do this, the
authors first describe the descriptive tools of sociolinguistic
variation in terms of linguistic sub-disciplines and related language
elements such as pragmatics and utterance, syntax and phrase and
morphology and morpheme and their necessity to account for any
linguistic variable i.e., 'any single feature of language which could
be realised by different choices.'.

To exemplify this, the authors then discuss variation at the levels of
phonology without, however, providing an actual example, grammar, the
adding by some British school children of third person 's' to all
present tense verb forms, lexis, the use of 'block' by New Yorkers for
what Philadelphians call a 'square', discourse, again without providing
a concrete example, and of language itself as in bilingual situations
in Canada, Belgium and Switzerland. The chapter then addresses the
essential issue of correlation between such examples of linguistic
variation and social factors as 'geographical and social mobility',
'gender and power', 'age', 'audience' and 'identity'.

The chapter concludes with issues related to the collection of
sociolinguistic data and provides detailed descriptions of actual
sociolinguistic research as exemplified by work called The Teeside
Study conducted by one of the authors, Carmen Llamas. The study
provides an excellent introduction for newcomers to the field and
partly explains why, as the authors maintain, that sociolinguistics has
practical applications to government policy on language planning and

Chapter 10. Focus on the Language Learner: Motivation, Styles and
Strategies by Andrew D. Cohen and Zolt�n D�rnyei.

This chapter tackles the crucial area of learner features, first
providing brief descriptions of the features over which teachers have
no control: Age, gender and language aptitude. It then comes to the
heart of the chapter which will appeal to teachers: those features upon
which that actions of teachers may have both positive and negative
effects: motivation.

It begins this section by proposing that L2 motivation is qualitatively
different from that involved in other subject matter, basing the
argument on the assumption that learning an L2 involves 'an alteration
in self-image, the adoption of new social and cultural behaviors and
ways of being, and therefore has a significant impact on the social
behavior of the learner.'. As it would not be difficult to imagine
other subject matter such as 'drama' which have the same requirements
and as such 'make-overs' hardly apply to many L2 language courses, this
is probably stretching things a bit but the point is taken.

Be that as it may, the authors make the significant point that
motivation entails a dynamic process which makes it susceptible to the
intervention of teachers thanks to which they can generate it, maintain
and protect it, and encourage learners to reflect on the affect of
their motivation on their learning. The authors then base their
taxonomy of motivation on Gardner's (1985) model and on the work of one
of the authors, Zolt�n D�rnyei. There are, therefore, the expected
categories of 'integrative motivation', instrumental motivation' and
'integrative motive', to which are added a variety of factors related
to the learners' environment such as 'novelty', 'pleasantness', goal or
needed significance' etc. This strikes me as having a touch of the
'reductio ad absurdum' about it so one might welcome the following
section on 'Motivating Learners' except for the fact that it remains on
the level of abstractions such as '...enhancing the L2-related

It is all very well regaling us with all types of motivational factors
which may have an effect on learners' performance. However, this is a
book about applied linguistics which is supposed to use what we know
about (a) language, (b) how it is learned and (c) how it is used, in
order to achieve some purpose or solve some problem in the real
world.'. Readers, therefore, might have expected a chapter on
motivation to tell us how the two authors think that all this taxonomy
has resulted in helping teachers being able to increase the motivation
of learners, an expectation bolstered by the rhetorical question asked
by the authors: 'How can motivation research help classroom
practitioners?'. Unfortunately, in the ensuing section, all we get is
further classification. Nowhere do the authors provide any empirical
evidence which demonstrates that teachers who altered their behaviour
in accordance with what the authors recommend have brought about
identifiable improvement in students' learning. This failure is
resonant of the record of applied linguists who are quick to recommend
how teachers should teach but painfully slow in providing empirical
evidence to back up their recommendations, often because no such
evidence exists.

The chapter subsequently deals with 'learning styles' and 'learner
strategies'. As to the former, it deals with the well-trodden ground
of the dichotomies of 'visual-auditory', 'extrovert-introvert',
abstract-concrete', 'openness-closure orientedness', 'global-
particular' and 'synthetic-analytic'. It then usefully illustrates how
these style factors may function in a reading comprehension task and in
doing so provide a clearer understanding of those factors. As to the
latter, 'learner strategies', the chapter provides a comprehensive
account of the wide range of strategies which have been revealed in the
literature and though the omission of the seminal work of Naiman et al.
(1975) is puzzling.

In the concluding section, the authors address the important issue of
pedagogical implications which they uncontroversially suggest partly
lie in learners' becoming aware of their own learning styles and the
strategies compatible therewith. However, they do not address the most
pressing problem for both schools and teachers. Given that it is
virtually impossible to homogenise classes in terms of learning style,
how do schools and teachers maximise their use of what is known about
this domain of research?

Chapter 11. Listening by Tony Lynch and David Mendelsohn.
After making clear the complex and interpretive nature of listening,
involving factors related to context and non-linguistics variables, the
authors introduce the models of listening known as: the communicative
theory model, the information processing model, the social-contextual
model, the situated action model. They point out these models are
'complementary rather than mutually exclusive' and draw elements
therefrom to classify the two different types of listening: one-way
listening as in the receiving of information and two-way listening in
which interaction is dominant. They then provide a taxonomy of the
many factors involved in listening skills noting the contributions of
Richards (1983) and Rost (1990) in creating a taxonomy of the elements
involved in the micro-skills of listening.

In the latter section, the authors deal with how all the theorising on
the nature of listening might be applied in practice to the classroom.
Here they justifiably make much of the necessity of skills training in
teaching students how to listen and to therefore exploit pre- and post-
listening activities as a necessary complement to listening itself.

In this comprehensive account of both the theoretical and practical
factors involved in the activity of listening, there is one omission
which manifests a problems which besets so many sub-fields of applied
linguistics. That is a certain apparent parochialism which leads to an
unfortunate compartmentalisation of which so many of us are guilty.
Thus, the case in point concerns my own focus of interest, methodology
and optimal means of teaching grammar in the communicative classroom.
Listening is, therefore, peripheral to my interests which probably
explains why the work of the two authors of this chapter was largely
unknown to me before doing this review even though they both have some
prominence in their own sub-field. At the same time, I hazard the
guess that they may be equally unaware of what is happening in my sub-
field. How else can one explain their failure to refer to work such as
that of VanPatten in VanPatten and Sanz (1995) who in the last decade
or so has made listening an essential part of grammar instruction. He
has rightly proposed that listening comprehension (termed 'processing
instruction') be an essential step between explicit instruction and
oral production. In other words, learners need to be taught how, while
listening to texts, to recognise the grammar elements learned, thus
bridging the gap between the fields of listening and grammar
instruction. However, as the authors make no mention of VanPatten's
work, I assume they are unaware of it. I do so as VanPatten's research
findings demonstrate a positive effect on learning of the listening
process he proposes, findings which are significantly absent from the
research cited by the two authors.

Chapter 12 Speaking and Pronunciation by Anne Burns and Barbara
The authors base much of their chapter on an analysis of recorded
conversation between two Australian friends. This is as welcome here
as it is in Chaper 5 on Pragmatics for it provides the necessary
contextual exemplification. This is particularly necessary as the
authors choose to adopt as their model of speaking one based on 'text
and function' rather than the one that is the prevailing model based on
'sentence and form'. As their chosen context is second language
teaching, they justify this approach by arguing that natural
conversation occurs in context which sentence-based analysis cannot
account for.

Given their model, the authors' choice of approach is that of discourse
analysis. This in turn leads them to the inevitable classification of
genres of speaking, generic structure, exchange, turn-taking and turn
types and topic management Then, in discussing 'issues in
pronunciation', their approach is once again classificatory as they
examine the function of 'tone units', 'chunking', 'prominence', 'turn
taking', 'introducing and ending topics', 'social meaning and roles-
degrees of involvement' 'stress and unstress' and 'sound segments'.
The discussion provides enlightening examples of these multiple factors
manifest in pronunciation.

Then we come to 'pedagogical implications' where I would contend that
the house of cards built up by the previous classifications tumble to
the table if, that is, we take seriously the purpose of applied
linguistics provided by the editor, Norbert Schmitt. That is, in this
case, solving the problem of learning how to speak on the part of
second language learners.

Here they stack the not-yet-fallen cards in their favour by suggesting
that their discourse analysis approach is preferable to following ''
'recipe' type models in a slavish fashion''. Nothing like objectivity
in discussing such matters. Of course, their approach would pose no
problem had they provided empirical evidence to demonstrate the greater
effectiveness of what they propose. To do so, they would have to
demonstrate that such greater effectiveness was manifest in making L2
learners aware at the macro-level of the 'functional purpose', 'generic
structure' and 'gate-keeping context' of the discourse involved and at
the micro-level of the 'exchange structure', 'turn-taking' and
'conversational moves' involved.

So what empirical evidence do the authors offer in support of their
advocacy? Absolutely none. Why is this? Very simple. There is none.
Who with any experience of normal classrooms could possibly think that
making learners aware of the above classification whilst ignoring the
concerns of 'slavish recipe-type models' will lead to any improvement
in speaking ability. Apart from this fundamental objection is one I'll
characterise as 'trying to teach your granny to suck eggs'. Have the
authors not considered the possibility that what they suggest learners
be made aware of, they already know implicitly because they are already
speakers of their own language. True, there may be minor pragmatic
differences between, say, French and English but the idea of having
teachers spend time on teaching such matters as classifiying discourse
as either transactional or interactional, or teaching the principles of
'turn-taking' while neglecting the fundamentals of actually learning to
say accurately what one wishes to say is exactly what has created the
abyss between the classroom and the ivory tower which many applied
linguists inhabit. When will applied linguists learn that before they
advocate teaching strategies, they are ethically obliged to provide
supportive empirical evidence for the greater effectiveness of what
they propose over the strategies they choose to stigmatise.

Chapter 13 Reading by Patricia L. Carrell and William Grabe
The authors initially identify the various purposes of reading such as
scanning, skimming, reading for general understanding, reading to
learn, reading to integrate information and reading how to evaluate
critically. However, given the book's emphasis on L2 learning, it
concentrates on 'reading for understanding' and 'reading to learn' and
devotes some time to underlining the differences between L1 and L2
reading in terms of cognitive resources, background knowledge and
language competence. It then proceeds to discuss key linguistic and
processing differences such as those related to lexical, grammatical,
and discourse knowledge and key individual and experiential differences
related to such variables as level of L1 reading skill, differing
motivation and varying degrees of exposure to L2 texts and differing
socio-cultural background of L2 readers.

The chapter also identifies various issues in L2 reading such as
'automaticity and word recognition', 'differences in L2 word
recognition as a function of the L1' and then, specifically concerned
with vocabulary, issues such as 'size of vocabulary', 'the role of
context in learning', 'the role of dictionaries', 'the manner in which
L2 learners acquire vocabulary', 'the role of pleasure reading in the
incidental acquisition of vocabulary' and 'the role of instruction in
L2 development.

The chapter then moves on to the question of factors involved in L2
learners reaching a level at which L1 reading strategies become
applicable. Here they deal with questions of reading rate, language
threshold, knowledge of both background, text structure and discourse
cues, meta-cognition and reading strategies, and the impact of
extensive reading. Further, they discuss the implications of these
factors for success in reaching L1 reading levels.

Finally, the chapter addresses the issue of the implications of L2
research for instruction. Here the authors display an admirable
circumspection. They make clear that no recommendation for a reading
curriculum can be made without specific knowledge of relevant local
factors and a needs analysis. However, on a general level they suggest
the necessity to include therein concern for the factors already
summarised such as word recognition automaticity, a large recognition
vocabulary, the need for extensive reading, motivation and a supportive
classroom environment.

Chapter 14 Writing by Tony Silva and Paul Kei Matsuda
The two authors begin by informing us that before the 1960's, writing
was considered as a mere representation of speech. This comes as news
to me as at that time when grammar-translation was the current method,
the reverse was surely the case. In fact if one takes a typical book
of the period, (Morris, 1954), one finds the reverse of the authors'
perception. He writes (pp.125-126) of traditional practice as
exaggerating the importance of writing and writes of 'the supremacy of
the productive skill of writing' as one of the skills to be mastered.
It was only when the influence of structural linguistics extended to L2
teaching in the 50's and 60's that the primacy of speech was accepted
in the classroom and writing began to take a back seat. However, even
then, writing as a skill was never considered as a mere representation
of speech.

The authors also inform us that writing only began to receive attention
as a legitimate field of inquiry in AL in the second half of the
20thcentury. Well, it could hardly have received any in the first half
as the field of AL only came into existence in the latter part of the
40's.. Further, the authors might find it enlightening to look back
to, say, the Coleman report of the 20's or even nearer home to one of
the chapters in this book to realise that the Greeks had a thing or two
to say about the art of writing..

It would be reassuring to think that these two solecisms were one-offs;
unfortunately, this misreading of the past continues. In attempting to
demystify writing and in dealing with its various aspects such as the
relationship between the writer, the reader, the text and reality, the
chapter continues to contend that 'the traditional view is the notion
of writing as transcribed speech'. They neither provide a
bibliographical reference nor a date; it is, therefore, difficult to
know to which period they are referring . They do, however, imply that
it was in the early years of AL. As they begin the chapter by implying
that those early years go at least as far back as the 40's and 50's,
one has to assume that they are referring to then. However, at that
time, in schools and universities, writing, rather than being
considered as transcribed speech was considered rather a different
means of communication. In fact, students were more exhorted to avoid
the colloquialisms of speech in order that they should learn to write
acceptably good prose. (See Morris, 1954)

When the authors come to address second language writing, they continue
to have a singular perception of the past. They cite Fries (1945) as
support for the argument that writing was then 'regarded as essentially
reinforcement for oral habits'. Again, no citation is provided to
support this. This may be understandable as I can find nothing in
Fries (1945) to substantiate this contention. In fact, the reverse may
be the case. On page 6, Fries writes 'The practice which the student
contributes must be oral practice.'. True, he writes 'The speech is
the language. The written record is but a secondary representation of
the language.'. (p. 6) But this says nothing about writing as a skill
itself. And, nowhere in the fourteenth printing I have read, is there
any mention of writing as a means of providing 'reinforcement for oral
habits' as the authors argue on page 258. Anyway, given the primacy
and desired spontaneity of speech and the mim-mem procedures of ALM,
the authors' perception of writing in ALM makes little sense. As to
Rivers' approach (Rivers, 1968) to writing which the authors imply is
similar to that of Fries, it is exactly the opposite of what the
authors suggest. In fact, she has always been at pains to emphasise
the difference between speaking and writing. In Rivers (1978), for
example, she uses Vygotsky's work to underline the fact that speaking
is to writing as arithmetic is to algebra.

Their misrepresentation of what applied linguists have said about
writing does not stop here. In supposedly demystifying writing on page
252, they state 'Another problematic assumption is that writing is
'decontexualised'.' To support this, they cite Ellis (1994:188). Their
statement is actually a distortion of what Ellis writes and is, in
fact, nothing whatsoever to do with the skill of writing. Ellis is
discussing contextualised illocutionary acts but is pointing out the
ability of students to learn by means of decontextualised definitions
and that such learning is, therefore, not a function of 'communicative
adequacy'. (p. 188)

How is one to explain such a misperception of the past. Well, it would
appear that the authors wish to use this argument to criticise the
'controlled composition' and 'paragraph pattern approach' in which
there is 'negligible concern for audience or purpose'. This is
resonant of chapter 12 in which the authors castigate an approach they
term 'the sentence and form' approach and promote a concern with higher
things such as interactional and transactional discourse. In other
words, forget the bricks and mortar of construction and think about the
more abstract design features. I will return to this issue in the
final critical evaluation.

In the latter part of their chapter, the authors provide a summary of
the process approach to writing developed as a reaction to the
controlled composition approach and to the issues involved in providing
English for academic purposes. They conclude with a discussion of
issues which 'transcend traditions' and go into the necessity for
writing professionals 'to seize the opportunity to escape the confines
of a particular tradition'. This may constitute sound advice.
However, for the sake of us all, before they escape, may they take the
trouble to fully understand the nature of the tradition they are

Chapter 15 Assessment by Carol A. Chapelle and Geoff Brindley
In this final content-chapter, the two authors provide an excellent
account of how applied linguists work on this area has made it into the
sophisticated matter it has now become.

The authors begin by differentiating testing from assessment but adopt
a unifying approach in concentrating on 'the process of making
inferences about learners' language on the basis of observed
performance'. They then proceed to address the various issues which
have preoccupied professionals in this field in recent decades such as
'construct definition', which entails rigorous definitions of ability
as opposed to performance and specificity as opposed to generality of
purpose in test construction.

They then move on to what interests teachers most: test methods and, in
particular, underline the fact that the three important components of
testing: test performance, the underlying capacities responsible for it
and how the necessity to evaluate performance free from outside
influence. From there, they use this desired objectivity to introduce
the discussion of the degree to which testing methods are susceptible
to 'test method influence' and point out the important work of applied
linguists such as Bachman (1990) in developing analytical tools
necessary for the validation of tests.

In discussing the issue of validity, the authors underline the shift in
the latter part of the 20th century away from measurement and
statistical analysis towards 'a process of constructing an argument
about the inferences and uses made of test scores and the importance of
both quantitative and qualitative considerations'. Here they provide
illuminating examples drawn from actual tests creation in the world of
ESL. Though they emphasise the importance of this shift away from
relying too heavily on statistical analysis, they do not neglect this
important component in the field of assessment, providing a brief but
informative account of the role of such analysis in testing.

Finally, the chapter provides some discussion of what might be
considered matters peripheral to the problems involved in actual
assessment. Here they deal with aspects such as 'washback', the effect
of testing of teaching; 'alternative assessment' , the use of the
teachers, themselves, to provide information about their students by
means of observation and the use of portfolios and self-assessment
provided by the students. However, the authors necessarily emphasise
the problems associated with both validity and reliability, and
administrative feasibility and cost effectiveness of such alternatives.

Chapter 16 Suggested Solutions
This chapter provides the authors' solutions to the 'Hands-on
Activities' provided in each content-chapter. Space limitations
prevent discussion of the quality and usefulness of both the activities
and solutions. Suffice it to say that these are excellent features of
the volume rendering it desirably practical as a counter-balance to the
preponderance of theoretical discussion which characterise most of the

In spite of the critical comments concerning some of the chapters, I
consider this volume a very good introduction to AL particularly for
those involved in classroom teaching. In fact, somewhat ironically,
even those aspects which I have criticised serve a positive purpose for
they add to the accuracy of the picture of AL as presented by the
overall impression of the book.

I have included in my treatment of each chapter varying doses of
critical comment rather than putting it in this final section because
the comment is always related to the discussion at hand and is,
therefore specific thereto. Such comment only belongs in a final
summary if it is possible to discern a general trend manifest in a
number of the chapters. This, I believe there is and will deal with it

As a 'sophisticated introduction' to the field of applied linguistics,
this volume achieves its aims in a more than satisfactory manner. It
has chosen to focus on applied linguistics as it functions in the world
of L2 language teaching. This renders the work more accessible to
teachers but also, from my point of view, reveals major failings in
this field, failings emphasised by the editor's admirable decision to
insist on there being a section on 'pedagogical implications' in each

The application of reflection on the nature of classroom language
learning began with teachers themselves writing about it and in
offering advice to practising teachers. (See Howatt, 1984; Germain,
1993). As such, the advice was practical and not theoretical. Since
the beginning of applied linguistics, university academics have
monopolised the field. Consequently, theorising on the nature of
language learning has replaced basing practical advice on practical
experience. Nothing whatsoever wrong with this providing the
theorisers realise that whatever proposals arise from their theorising
need to be trialled in long-term classroom situations before that
theorising can be used as support for advocating pedagogical
intervention. Unfortunately, this has not occurred. The large
majority of educational reforms including those in the domain of L2
teaching have resulted largely from theorising in the absence of
positive practical experience. As a result, most reforms in education,
in general, and foreign-second language learning, in particular, have
proven to be failures (Adams and Chen 1981; Brumfitt 1981; Fullan
1982). In fact, Markee (1993:231), given the high risk of failure,
argues that "...innovations should be resisted rather than promoted
because their adoption may be more harmful than beneficial." Valette
(1991:325), indeed, argues, with supportive test scores, that the
innovations of the previous twenty-five years had resulted in the
worsening of the proficiency standards of seniors graduating from

Given this past record of failure, it would have been encouraging had
the contributors to this volume shown some sign of having learned
lessons from the past and applied them to the present. There is,
indeed, some evidence of this particularly in the chapters on Grammar,
Vocabulary, and Reading where the authors retain a sensible balance
between past practices and present proposals. Unfortunately, however,
a recurring theme in the chapters on SLA, Speaking and Pronunciation,
and Writing is to cast doubt on the effectiveness of practical and
direct strategies of the past in favour of more holistic and
integrative approaches. This would be acceptable had the authors, and
applied linguists, in general, demonstrated that what they propose has
proven to be more effective than what they dismiss. This, they fail to
do and in doing so unintentionally demonstrate the little that has
accrued to effective language teaching from the field of AL.

Finally, I would have very much appreciated the addition of
biographical data on each author. Whether one agrees wholeheartedly
with what is written or violently disagrees therewith, it is always
enlightening to read about the authors. Anyway, though curiosity may
have curtailed the final lives of numerous cats, it has not yet proven
fatal to applied linguists.

Adams, R. and Chen, D. (1981). The process of educational innovation:
An international perspective. London: Kogan Page in association with
the UNESCO Press.

Bachman, L. E. (1990) Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brumfitt, C. (1981). "Notional syllabuses revisited", A response."
Applied Linguistics, 2: 90-92.
Coady, J. and Huckin, T. (1997) (Eds.), Second language vocabulary
acquisition (pp. 174-200). New York: Cambrdge University Press.

Cohen, A. D. (1998) Strategies in Learning and Using a Secod Language
Harlow: Longman.

de Bott, K. (1998). Does the formulator know its LFG? A reaction to
Pienemann. In Bilingualism - Language and Cognition. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Doughty, C. & Williams, J. (Eds.) (1998a). Focus on Form in Classroom
Second Language Acquisition, Cambridge: CUP.

Ellis, R. (1994) The study of Second Language Acquisition Oxford: OUP

Fries, C. (1945) Teaching and Learning English as a Second Language Ann
Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Fullan, M. (1982). The meaning of educational change. New York:
Teachers College Press.

Gardner, R. C. (1985) Social Psychology and Language Learning: The Role
of Attitudes and Motivation. London: Edward Arnold

Germain, C. (1993). Evolution de l'enseignement des langues: 5000 ans
d'histoire. Paris: Hurtubise HMH, Lt�e.

Howatt, A. P. R. (1984) A History of English LanguageTeaching. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Hulstijn, J. (1998) Semantic/Informational and formal processing
principles in processability theory. In Bilingualism - Language and
Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kempen, G. (1998). Comparing and explaining the trajectories of first
and second language acquisition: In search of the right mix of
psychological and linguistic factors. In Bilingualism - Language and
Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Levelt, W. (1999) 'Producing spoken language' In Brown, C., Haargoord,
P. (eds) The Neurocognition of Language. Oxford: Oxford University
Pres; 83-122.

Lightbown, M. P. (1998). "The importance of timing in focus on form."
In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.) Focus on Form in Classroom Second
Language Acquisition, (pp, 177-196) Cambridge: CUP

Lightbown, P. (2000). "Anniversary article: Classroom SLA research and
second language teaching". Applied Lingustics, 21: 431-462.

Lyster, R. (1998). "Negotiation of form, recasts, and explicit
correction in relation to error types and learner repair in immersion
classroom" Language Learning, 48:183-218.

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

Morris, I. (1954) The Art of Teaching English as a Living Language
Tate: London.
Nation, P. (1982) "Beginning to learn foreign language vocabulary" RELC
Journal 13, 14-36.

Naiman, N, Frohlich, Stern, H.H., and Todesco, A. (1978) The Good
Language Learner Research in Education Series No 7. Toronto: The
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Pienemann, M. (1998). 'Developmental dynamics in L1 and L2 acquisition:
Processability theory and generative entrenchment'. In Bilingualism -
Language and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C. (1983) 'Listening comprehension: approach, design,
procedure' TESOL Quarterly, 17: 219-208.

Rivers, W. (1968) Teaching Foreign Language Skills Chicago, IL: Chicago
University Press.

Rivers, W. and Temperley, M.S. (1978) A practical guide to the teaching
of English as a second or foreign language New York: Oxford University

Rost, M. (1990) Listening in Language Learning London: Longman.

Schachter, J. (1998) Commentary on "A brief sketch of processability
theory" by M. Pieneman. In Bilingualism - Language and Cognition.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sheen, R. (1999) "A success story" SPEAQ OUT, 27/4: 14-16.

Spada, N. (1997). Form-focussed instruction and second language
acquisition: A review of classroom and laboratory research.. Language
Teaching ,30, 73-87.

Spada, N., & Lighbown, P. M. (1993). "Instruction and the development
of questions in the L2 classroom" Studies in Second Language
Acquisition 15: 205-221.

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

VanPatten, B., and Sanz, C. (1995) "From input to output: Processing
instruction and communicative task." In F. Eckman, D. Highland, P. Lee,
J. Mileham, and R. Weber (eds.), SLA theory and pedagogy (pp. 169-185).
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ron Sheen has been in second and foreign language teaching since the
late 50's. He has taught in various parts of the world and has
published widely in a variety of AL journals. He teaches courses in AL
and English. His research lies in the domain of the search for optimal
teaching strategies in terms of marrying grammar instruction to the
improving of accurate speech production.
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