01 March 2013

Learning acquisition

I am of the opinion that both acquisition and language are essential to achieving fluency in a second language. I believe the two are interdependent, that there must be both conscious and unconscious practice of language and that the one feeds the other in a big ol' Ouroboros. I believe that there probably are people who do perfectly fine--better than they would otherwise--with strictly immersion, TPRS, or TCI and no grammatical analysis until at least Novice High. I also believe that there are those, myself included, whose acquisition is accelerated by the scaffolding of grammatical analysis.

For me, it comes down to brain theory. For years as an English teacher and through the New Schools Project, I was assured that scaffolding was essential for learning to take place and that graphic organizers were pretty keen ways to help the brain out. This was borne out by my reading of John Ratey's A User's Guide to the Brain. I consider conjugation charts a kind of graphic organizer that helps place new information in accessible files for our brain clerks.

Not all of my esteemed colleagues, or #langchat buddies, agree with me. And so we duked it out on a post-#langchat Friday night.


  1. You're not going to convince the TPRS camp and the CI camp that its learning and acquisition. TPRS is akin to a cult; if you don't agree with them fully, you're thrown under the bus. As far as CI, it's a compromise for those who don't want to do TPRS entirely.

    The grammar undergirds the language. The problem with TPRS is that their "results" are anecdotal. I would like to see some hard, published evidence. As far as Krashen, I don't think his theories are as useful and valuable as we've made them out to be.

  2. I don't know about "cult." I mean, the TPRS camp is certainly very enthusiastic about the results they've seen and the methods for achieving. And has there really been no quantitative research on the matter yet?