LINGUIST List 14.66

Thu Jan 9 2003

Review: Applied Linguistics: Gass et al. (2002)

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  1. svetlana kurtes, Pedagogical norms for second and foreign language learning and teaching

Message 1: Pedagogical norms for second and foreign language learning and teaching

Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 17:17:49 +0000
From: svetlana kurtes <>
Subject: Pedagogical norms for second and foreign language learning and teaching

Susan Gass, Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Sally Sieloff Magnan and Joel
Walz (eds) 2002. Pedagogical norms for second and foreign language
learning and teaching: studies in honour of Albert Valdman, John
Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam/Philadelphia. vi+305pp,
paperback, ISBN 1588112624, Language Learning and Language Teaching 5.

Book Announcement on Linguist: 

Svetlana Kurtes, Language Centre, University of Cambridge, UK


''Pedagogical norms for second and foreign language learning and
teaching: studies in honour of Albert Valdman'' is a collection of
articles edited by Susan Gass, Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Sally Sieloff
Magnan and Joel Walz (henceforth the editors). The volume focuses on
the concept of pedagogical norm, reexamines and redefines it, taking
Albert Valdman's (1989: 21) four identifying principles of the concept
as the platform of reference: 1) they should reflect the actual speech
of target language speakers in authentic communicative situations; 2)
they should conform to native speakers' idealised view of their speech
use; 3) they should conform to expectations of both native speakers
and foreign learners concerning the type of linguistic behaviour
appropriate for foreign learners; and 4) they should take into account
processing and learning factors (cf. p.3).

There are 13 articles grouped in 3 sections: 1) Defining pedagogical
norms; 2) Applying pedagogical norms; and 3) Extending pedagogical
norms, elaborating further the following issues: what are appropriate
goals for foreign language learning; what norms serve these goals; how
might instruction help learners appreciate, understand, and eventually
use language in its varied forms; what data do we need to make
informed pedagogical decisions; in what directions do current studies
point us. The editors and authors address the audience composed of
both researchers and practitioners in applied and educational
linguistics, ''including teachers, teacher-educators, and material
developers, who ultimately use research findings in a pedagogical
context'' (p. 1).

Section 1 opens with a contribution by Sally Sieloff Magnan and Joel
Walz entitled ''Pedagogical norms: development of the concept and
illustrations from French''. The authors start the discussion by
asserting that ''[p]edagogical norms are abstractions that mediate the
complex realities of linguistic variation and typical language
learning difficulties experienced by foreign language learners''(p.15)
and continue by giving a succinct historical overview of the evolution
of the concept over the last 4 decades: from the audiolingual times of
the 1960s, to the advent of the communicative language teaching in the
1970s, the multi-target norm of the 1980s and the sociopragmatic turn
of the 1990s and thereafter. They conclude by discussing possible
direction in the further development of the concept, particularly in
the context of a growing number of heritage language learners filling
foreign language classrooms.

Bernard Spolsky (''Norms, native speakers, and reversing language
shift'') develops the idea further by reminding us that ''foreign
language teaching had its origin in the teaching of the language of
sacred texts'' (p. 41) written in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Old
Church Slavonic, etc. He concludes by pointing out that what is really
needed in the future is ''sociolinguistically-informed language
pedagogy'' (p. 54).

''Standard, norm, and variability in language learning: a view from
foreign language research'' is the title of the article by Claire
Kramsch. The author points out that ''both second and foreign language
learning ultimately aim at enabling speakers of one language to
''organize their experience'' and communicate it to others in another
language, but they go about it in different ways'' (p. 59) and carries
on by making the distinction between a ''literate standard''
frequently used in foreign language teaching and ''native speaker
norm'' as the variety used in second language teaching. In that
context, she looks at the pedagogical reality found in the
foreign/second language curricula of the United States, France and

Julie Auger in her article ''French immersion in Montreal: pedagogical
norm and functional competence'' discusses some strong point as well
as weaknesses of French immersion programs is Canada. She gives
further suggestions how to design a curriculum that will make
English-speaking learners of French in a French-Canadian context
functionally bilingual.

Bill Van Patten's article ''Communicative classrooms, process
instruction, and pedagogical norms'' opens Section 2 (''Applying
pedagogical norms''). The author elaborates further the question how
pedagogical norms are constructed in foreign language instruction,
taking the United States as an example. He identifies 5 major tenets
of communicative language instruction: meaning should always be the
focus; learners should be at the cenre of the curriculum;
communication is not only oral but written and gestural as well;
samples of authentic language should be available from the beginning
of the instruction; communicative events in the classroom should be

James F Lee (''The initial impact of reading as input for the
acquisition of future tense morphology in Spanish'') presents the
results of a research project, demonstrating how second language
learners can benefit from exposure to Spanish verbal morphology
without prior explicit introduction to the subject.

''Treating French intonation: observed variation and suggestions for a
pedagogical norm'' is the title of Laurie Anne Ramsey's contribution,
discussing a model of pedagogical norm for French intonation suitable
for learners at various levels of proficiency.

Helene Ossipov (''Dislocated subjects in French: a pedagogical norm'')
observes a variant word order in French by presenting the results of a
corpus-based analysis and giving further instructions how to
facilitate the acquisition of the structure in question.

In ''Variant word-order constructions: to teach or not to teach?
Evidence from learner narratives'' Betsy J Kerr examines further some
pragmatically based constructions, such as left dislocation in French,
pointing out the discrepancy between what is taught in textbooks and
what can be found occurring naturally in the spoken language.

Section 3 (''Extending pedagogical norms'') opens with Cynthia A Fox's
article entitled ''Incorporating variation in the French classroom: a
pedagogical norm''). The author argues that learners of French should
not be exposed only to, what she calls, Standard Metropolitan French,
but also be aware, at least receptively, of its international
dimension represented by other standard varieties, e.g. the one spoken
in Quebec.

In their article ''A pedagogical norm for circumlocution in French'',
Sarah Jourdain and Mary Ellen Scullen discuss circumlocution, the act
of compensating for gaps in the linguistic repertoire, in the
pedagogical context, explaining how the learners may benefit from a
proper instructional input that engage them in circumlocution.

''Between orality and literacy: developing a pedagogical norm for
narrative discourse'' is the title of Carl Blyth's contribution in
which he explains the pedagogical importance of narrative discourse,
made up of many grammatical and rhetorical components that are highly
variable. The author proposes a pedagogical sequence progressing in
complexity that would help the learners develop their oral

The volume ends with Harry L Gradman's article ''Albert Valdman, the
compassionate shepherd'' in which the author pays tribute to ^�'the
consummate gentleman and scholar'', a French-born Rudy Professor of
French, Italian and Linguistics at Indiana University, Albert
Valdman. Professor Valdman's detailed bibliography is also appended
(pp. 281-297).


The present volume is a valuable contribution to our understanding of
one of the major concepts in language pedagogy and will no doubt
become an indispensable reference tool for researchers and
practitioners in the fields of applied and educational linguistics.
Taking Professor Valdman's legacy as its theoretical foundation, the
volume elaborates further the concept of pedagogical norm, superbly
illustrating its overall importance and role in mediating the
relationship of the closely related disciplines' descriptive
linguistics, second language acquisition and language pedagogy. The
editors splendidly succeeded in making the volume extremely readable,
thematically rich, but highly coherent, with a right proportion of
purely theoretical and more empirically-based contributions.

It is with pleasure that we recommend it to the attention of its
intended readership, composed primarily of applied linguists and
educationist, who will most certainly welcome the appearance of this
volume. But it should also without hesitation be brought to the
attention of a wider scholarly audience, including in particular
younger generation of applied linguistic and educational scholars and
practitioners, who might find its exhaustive bibliography on the topic
a very good starting point for further research.


Valdman, A 1989. ''The elaboration of pedagogical norms for second
language learners in a conflictual diglossia situations''. In
Variation in Second Language Acquisition, vol. 1: Discourse and
Pragmatics, S Gass et al (eds), Multilingual Matters, Clevedon, 15-34.


Svetlana Kurtes holds a BA in English Philology and an MA in
Sociolinguistics from Belgrade University and an MPhil in Applied
Linguistics from Cambridge University. She worked as a Lecturer in
English at Belgrade University and is currently affiliated to
Cambridge University Language Centre. Her research interests involve
contrastive linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics/stylistics,
translation theory and language pedagogy.
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