LINGUIST List 13.1742

Wed Jun 19 2002

Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)

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  1. Ronald SHEEN, Re: 13.1737, Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)

Message 1: Re: 13.1737, Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)

Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 17:35:43 -0400
From: Ronald SHEEN <Ronald_Sheenuqtr.uquebec.ca>
Subject: Re: 13.1737, Disc: Review: Applied Ling: Hinkel (2002)



My thanks to Georgette Jabour for her response. Ideally, Hinkel would
be responding to these queries; however, as GJ appears to agree with
her approach, I'll continue to ask questions of her, hoping that
Hinkel will participate in the discussion.

Applied linguists concerned with SLA tend to divide into two groups.
There are those who pursue it as a largely theoretical activity and
refuse all responsibility in terms of the possible implications for
the improvement of classroom language learning (Schwartz, Eubank,
Gregg, for example). Then, there are those who argue both implicitly
and explicitly that their research has direct implications for the
classrooms and indeed base advocacies thereon. (Long, Lightbown,
Krashen, for example). There are some who adopt a middle ground
(Sharwood-Smith, for example) who raise issues of pedagogical choice
purely for the purpose of discussion between applied linguists.

Given that according to GJ, Hinkel intends her findings to constitute
a contribution to the improvement of the design of teaching texts, one
can assume that she is part of the second group. As such, her
findings need to be held up to scrutiny. Such scrutiny necessarily
entails the provision of examples of her findings and some form of
demonstration of how their integration into teaching texts lead to
improvement in the learning process. In fact, Hinkel (and GJ) can
only satisfy the first of these two. They cannot possibly satisfy the
second for no attempt has been made to trial some form of integration.
Consequently, no convincing claims can be made for it. This, however,
does not appear to have prevented Hinkel and GJ from broaching such
claims.

It was because of this restriction that I simply asked GJ to provide
examples which Hinkel perceives as future candidates for such
integration. Unfortunately, she puts forward a very unconvincing
theoretical argument to justify her failure to provide any substantive
examples. Yet, she states "The first level looks at corpus
linguistics research performed on "expert" or "reference" corpora to
derive items of interest in the literature, while the second reports
on native students' writing versus non-native writers regarding the
use of those derived items."

Given this may I ask her once again to provide a series of examples of
"items of interest in the literature" and other examples demonstrating
systematic differences between native students' writing versus
non-native writers regarding the use of "those derived items". Would
she then clarify whether she considers that these findings will cause
producers of teaching texts to take into account problems that have
been previously ignored and if so would she exemplify.

Some may consider that my approach smacks of nit picking. If they do,
I suggest that they investigate the history of innovation in language
teaching promising improvement as do GJ and Hinkel. That history is a
sad= one for it demonstrates that those innovations have largely
failed to deliver the promised goods. (see Adams & Chen, 1981;
Brumfitt, 1981; Germain, 1993; Howatt, 1984; Markee, 1993). In fact,
some have even had a detrimental effect. (Valette, 1991:325)

There is, therefore, a pressing reason for making advocates of
innovation accountable for their claims, and this, to prevent that
innovation becoming yet one more bandwagon leading to nowhere.

Ron Sheen U of Q in TR, Canada.

Refs:

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

Brumfitt, C. (1981). "Notional syllabuses revisited", A response."
Applied Linguistics, 2, 90-92.

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

Germain, C. (1993). Evolution de l'enseignement des langues: 5000 ans
d'histoire. Paris: Hurtubise HMH, Lt=E9e.

Howatt, A.P.R. (1984) A History of English LanguageTeaching. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

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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