re: Foreign Language Acquisition

From: yochanan bitan (
Date: Thu Jan 27 2000 - 13:01:43 EST

on foreign language acquistion
SCM wrote:
<<I'm interested in reading something on second-language acquisition
research. How should one learn a second language? How does one learn a
second language? Etc. Obviously, I would be happy to read someone who
discusses the learning of "dead languages" (e.g., ancient Greek or Latin;
for those who object to the phrase "dead languages," please note that I've
placed this phrase in quotations), but I'm also looking for general
information on this subject. If anyone has recommendations, or better yet,
a book review, I would greatly appreciate such information.>>

A lot is available.

One nice collection of studies is Harris Winitz, ed. The Comprehension
Approach to Foreign Language Instruction (Rowley, Massachusetts and London:
Newbury House Publishers, 1981). This includes several articles based on
experimentation, as well as one or two from those who worked at the
Monterrey Institute for the DoD. (See especially the articles by Asher and
by Postovsky (sp?).

Stephen Krashen has produced quite abit about the 'natural approach' to
language acquisition and has contributed a phrase for the academic field,
"comprehensible imput". Krashen currently puts on seminars for language

If you have access to a university, I would call up the linguistics
department and get two of three recommended practical surveys on language

I remember reading a book, 80's?, devoted to the study of teaching reading,
but i can't remember the title or author. Some of that has direct
application to 'dead languages', though much of the discussion 'assumes' a
basic fluency in a language, first. Funny huh?

The story I put out on this list about dear professor Gouin and Berlitz
legacy came from the appendix of a 'survey' type book written around 1990
by Brown (?). (The book is still in unpacked book boxes from my summer

Another book, Rebecca Oxford, Language Learning Stragegies, 1990, (Heinle
and Heinle) collects a lot of hands-on critique of techniques for more
situations than you can shake a stick at. But the book is diffuse and
probably not the place to begin.

Finally, make sure you learn about Total Physical Response, J.J. Asher.
While many of his insights were published in journals in the 60's and 70's,
his methods have recently (c. 1995) been introduced in an innovative
program in the LA school system at special, selected schools.

Randall Buth

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