Students of foreign languages in classroom settings customarily characterize their learning experience as a monumental struggle, especially when they compare it to how easily and naturally they learned how to speak their native language. Throughout the twentieth century, this question came to constitute a central preoccupation of language educators throughout the world. Using insights from psychology and linguistics, the normal plan of language educators for resolving the problem of how to impart native-like fluency in the classroom was a relatively simple one - it consisted in devising pedagogical practices and instructional materials based on these insights. Teachers were then expected to adapt these to their specific situations. But after a century of working under this plan, surveys continue to show that only a small fraction of all language students exposed to "scientifically-designed" classroom instruction eventually achieve native-like proficiency. The vast majority of students continue to struggle.
This book purposes that the challenges posed by classroom language learning could be studied much more profitably from the particular perspective of semiotic theory, than from the perspective of other sciences.
Based on a series of research projects whose results show how powerful semiotics is as a framework for investigating classroom language learning, it is written as an introductory text for teachers, educators, applied linguists, and anyone else interested in the contribution that semiotics can make to language education.
The opening chapter provides a brief historical analysis of the main trends in second language education in the twentieth century; the second introduces the notion of network theory and the semiotic principles upon which it is based; the third, fourth, and fifth chapters then deal respectively with denotative, connotative, and metaphorical concepts and the pedagogical implications that these entail. Network theory is drafted in this book to provide a framework for discussing student discourse in comparison to native-speaker discourse. It is based on the idea that concepts form associative connections based on sense and on inference.
In the book the notion of conceptual fluency is also developed as a framework for describing learner errors, modes of discourse, and typical representations in the foreign language.
Table of Contents
LANGUAGE TEACHING AND SEMIOTICS
Language education in the 20th century
Semiotics and language education
Revisiting the SLT dilemma from a semiotic perspective
Connotation in discourse