Challenging Hidden Assumptions in Language Teaching

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Vivian Cook

Abstract

Much language teaching still depends on assumptions established in the nineteenth century, namely the priority of speech over writing, the maximal use of the target language in the classroom, the rejection of explicit explanation of grammar and the use of the native speaker as the role model for the student. None of these assumptions are supported by contemporary view of second language acquisition: written language has its own characteristics and functions; however much the first language is banned, it is still active in the students’ minds; grammar is a central component of language learning, whether explicit or otherwise; students should aim to be successful second language users, not imitation native speakers. The assumptions need then to be re-examined in the light of current ideas of second language learning.

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