Linguistic approach to language study Why study linguistics? Study human languages from a scientific perspective Understand structures and processes underlying student errors Increase learners’ interest in language Help learners develop a new approach to understanding native and foreign language Fundamental linguistic concepts Every language is amazingly complex All languages are highly systematic Systematicity is not transparent to native speakers Speech is primary; writing secondary Children are not explicitly taught language, but they acquire it fluently by the age of 5 Three aspects of language learning Learning language – Teaching any subject involves teaching the language Learning through language – L is the medium of instruction Learning about language – Academic (explicit) • Grammar, vocabulary, spelling, phonics, etc. – Social/political (implicit) • Value All 3 aspects affect L acquisition Descriptive vs. theoretical linguistics Theoretical: study of linguistic universals. What is human language and how do we manage to acquire it? Descriptive: scientific study of a particular L (or comparison Ls) – Phonetics/phonology • Units of sounds and how they’re organized – Morphology • Units of meaning and how they’re organized – Syntax • Units of speech and how they’re organized Linguistic conundrum Complexity of language Ease of acquisition on L1 Relative difficulty of acquisition of L2 Difficulty of understanding what we already intrinsically know about language from a scientific/linguistic perspective! – Computer analogy – LAD (language acquisition device) Complexity of language Same message – different forms – Hey Joey, what’s up? – Hello Joey, good to see you. Same forms – different message – Is Rosa there? (yes/no) Lexical ambiguity – Why is the baby ant confused? • All his uncles are aunts! – “Kids Make Nutritious Snacks” – “Prostitutes Appeal To Pope” Complexity of language (continued) Structural ambiguity – I saw her[DO] duck[v]; I saw her[DET] duck[N] – Sears is having a [big stereo sale] • [[big] [stereo sale]] • [[big stereo] [sale]] “Meaningless” messages – Contradiction • “I’m my own grandpa” • Colorless[A] green[A] ideas[N] sleep[V] furiously[ADV] – Anomaly • Harry’s cat called me on the phone. Prescriptive vs. descriptive approach to language Prescriptive – Rules – “correct” Descriptive – Rules – describe • SAE (irregular) • Correct reflexive – Himself; themselves – Himself; themselves • Incorrect reflexive – Hisself; theirselves – Teach, practice, drill – Ideal L use – Traditional L pedagogy • AAE – Hisself; theirselves – – – – Observe Real L use Linguistic approach New L pedagogy? • You decide.