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Review of  Pedagogical Norms for Second and Foreign Language Learning and Teaching

Reviewer: Svetlana Kurteš
Book Title: Pedagogical Norms for Second and Foreign Language Learning and Teaching
Book Author: Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig Susan M. Gass Sally Sieloff Magnan Joel Walz
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
Issue Number: 14.66

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Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 16:24:44 -0800 (PST)
From: svetlana kurtes
Subject: Applied: Review of Gass, Bardovi-Harlig, Magnan and Walz (eds) (2002), Pedagogical norms

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.

Reviewed by 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 Germany.

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 purposeful.

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

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 proficiency.

The volume ends with Harry L Gradman's article "Albert
Valdman, the compassionate shepherd" in which the
author pays tribute to ^Ñthe 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.