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The University of Southampton
Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research

Theoretical linguistics and the scientific method in the language classroom Seminar

16:00 - 17:30
2 May 2018
Building 65 Lecture Theatre C Avenue Campus SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Prof Roumyana Slabakova at .

Event details

Part of the annual seminar series for CLLEAR.

In this talk, I pursue the view defended in recent work (Bosque 2018, i.a.) that the way we teach language has traditionally been based on labelling (“this is a noun”; “this is a predicate...”), rather than on actual analysis. This contrasts starkly with what happens in scientific disciplines, where students look at evidence, glean generalisations, formulate hypotheses/theories and then make predictions about what will happen. I contend that such a pattern-enchanted approach can be beneficial in the language classroom when it comes to the teaching of grammar, as in addition to finding generalisations about how the grammatical system works, students also develop a number of lifelong transferable skills.

In the second part of the talk, I argue that the findings of theoretical research can aid language teaching, since the quality of the input that we expose our learners to can improve significantly. This is because research on theoretical linguistics has come up with more precise generalisations than those typically found in pedagogical grammars (Rothman 2010, i.a.). In fact, there is no need for teachers or students to be trained in linguistics (i.e., there is no real need to overload students with metalanguage or with too many technicalities). To this end, I provide a number of practical examples suggesting that the gap between theoretical research and pedagogical practice in the language classroom can actually be bridged.

Speaker information

Julio Villa-García, University of Manchester. Lecturer in Spanish Linguistics and Syntax

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