Re-Evaluating Traditional Approaches to Second Language Teaching and Learning

Authored by: Lixian Jin , Martin Cortazzi

Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning

Print publication date:  January  2011
Online publication date:  January  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415998710
eBook ISBN: 9780203836507
Adobe ISBN: 9781136863950


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Traditional approaches (TAs) to teach and learn second or foreign languages have been around for many years. They are often thought of as “grammar-translation”: a cluster of practices including explicit grammatical explanations, detailed examples illustrating grammatical rules, bilingual vocabulary lists and translation exercises, and perhaps a focus on reading literary texts. For years they have been widely criticized on the grounds that they do not develop learners’ communication skills. However, paradoxically traditional approaches have continued in some ways and in some contexts. In many second language (L2, which also covers foreign language learning) classrooms in different countries some elements of these traditions persist, especially those that are more teacher-led or focus on explicit explanations of the L2 grammar and the classroom uses of learners’ first language (L1), translation between L1 and L2, or bilingual vocabulary lists and memorization.

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