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I II 1
Volume25, Number2 1 Summer1991

A forTeachersofEnglishto SpeakersofOtherLanguages
and ofStandardEnglishas a SecondDialect
SANDRA SILBERSTEIN, Universityof Washington
Review Editor
HEIDI RIGGENBACH, Universityof Washington
BriefReportsand SummariesEditor
GAIL WEINSTEIN-SHR, Universityof Massachusettsat Amherst
Research Issues Editor
GRAHAM CROOKES, Universityof Hawaii at Manoa
DEBORAH GREEN, Universityof Washington
MAUREEN P. PHILLIPS, Universityof Washington

G. Abraham MichaelK. Legutke
Iowa StateUniversity GoetheInstitute,Munich
JoanEisterholdCarson SandraMcKay
GeorgiaStateUniversity San FranciscoStateUniversity
JimCummins David Nunan
OntarioInstituteforStudiesin Education
GrahamCrookes MacquarieUniversity
Universityof Hawaii at Manoa Teresa Pica
CatherineDoughty Universityof Pennsylvania
The Universityof Sydney N. S. Prabhu
MiriamEisenstein NationalUniversityof Singapore
New YorkUniversity ThomasRicento
Yehia EI-Ezabi JapanCenterforMichiganUniversities!
UnitedArabEmiratesUniversity/ CentralMichiganUniversity
The AmericanUniversity inCairo PatriciaL. Rounds
Universityof Oregon
ThomasHuckin May Shih
Universityof Utah San FranciscoStateUniversity
Thom Hudson JamesW. Tollefson
Universityof Hawaii at Manoa Universityof Washington
Claire Kramsch Lise Winer
Universityof California,Berkeley SouthernIllinoisUniversity
arrangedbyPattiOlson,TESOL CentralOffice,
Typesetting, andbinding
printing, byPantagraphPrinting, Illinois
DesignbyChuckThayerAdvertising,San Francisco,
Copies of articles that appear in the TESOL Quarterlyare available throughThe Genuine Article@,3501 Market Street,
Philadelphia,Pennsylvania19104 U.S.A.

Copyright? 1991
Teachers of Englishto Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.
US ISSN 0039-8322

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an international
the of
professionalorganizationfor those concerned
as a second or and of
teaching English foreignlanguage
standardEnglish as a second dialect. Benefitsof membershipinclude
fourissues of the TESOL Quarterlyand six issues of TESOL Mattersa year, plus a
varietyof otherservicesand opportunitiesforprofessionaldevelopment.Each year
TESOL holds a Convention in the spring and a Summer Institute.TESOL also
publishes and distributesa wide range of professionalresource materials,which are
available to membersat reduced rates.A TESOL MembershipApplicationis printed
in every issue of the Quarterly.For furtherinformation,contactthe TESOL Central
Office,Suite 300, 1600 Cameron Street,Alexandria,Virginia22314-2751U.S.A., (703)

TESOL QUARTERLY is publishedin Spring,Summer,Autumn,and Winter.Publisher's

is HelenKornblum,
representative DirectorofCommunications& Marketing. Subscriptionsare
not sold withoutmembership. Communications regardingback issues,singlecopies, and
permissionto reprintshouldbe addressedto the TESOL CentralOffice,Suite 300, 1600
Cameron Street,Alexandria,Virginia22314-2751U.S.A., (703) 836-0774.Contributionsshould be
sentto theEditor or theappropriateSection Editorsat theaddresseslistedin theInformationfor
Contributors,which is included in each issue of theQuarterly.

TESOL Mattersis publishedin February,April,June,August,October,and December.

TESOL Matters
newsandannouncements, and Interest
Affiliate Section
and generalinformation.TESOL Mattersis available onlythroughmembershipin TESOL or by
subscriptionthrougha regional affiliateof TESOL. All contributionsshould be directed to
Helen Kornblum,TESOL Central Office,Suite 300, 1600 Cameron Street,Alexandria,Virginia
22314-2751U.S.A., (703) 836-0774.

ANNOUNCEMENTS should be sentdirectlyto theEditor, TESOL Matters,two monthsprior

to themonthof publicationand mustbe received by the firstof thatmonth(e.g., February1 for
the Aprilissue). The TESOL Quarterlydoes not publishannouncements.

ADVERTISING in all TESOL publicationsis arrangedby PattiOlson, TESOL CentralOffice,

Suite300,1600CameronStreet,Alexandria, 22314-2751
Virginia U.S.A.,(703)836-0774.


President JamesDean Brown Mary Lou McCloskey
LYDIA STACK TempleUniversity Educo
Newcomer Tokyo,Japan Atlanta,GA
San Francisco,CA
D. ScottEnright JeanMcConochie
FirstVice President GeorgiaStateUniversity Pace University
MARY HINES Atlanta,GA New York,NY
E6tvos Lorind University JanetC. Fisher RobertOprandy
Budapest,Hungary CaliforniaState University Teachers College
Los Angeles,CA Columbia University
Second Vice President New York,NY
MissionCollege StateBoardforCommunity Thomas Robb
Santa Clara, CA and TechnicalColleges Kyoto Sangyo University
Olympia, WA Kyoto,Japan
ExecutiveDirector Linda Tobash
Else V. Hamayan
SUSAN C. BAYLEY IllinoisResourceCenter
Alexandria,VA LaGuardiaCommunity
Des Plaines,IL City Universityof New York
Long Island City,NY
JoyceBiagini Robert B. Kaplan
Department Universityof Southern Rita Wong
ofEducation California Foothills College
St. Paul, MN Los Angeles,CA Los AltosHills, CA

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' 'I I?
Volume25, Number2 O Summer1991


Internationalism and Our "StrenuousFamily" 231
Mary Ashworth
TESOL at Twenty-Five:Whatare the Issues? 245
H. Douglas Brown
CommunicativeLanguage Teaching:
State of the Art 261
Sandra J. Savignon
CommunicativeTasks and the Language Curriculum 279
David Nunan
English forSpecific Purposes: International
in Scope, Specific in Purpose 297
Ann M. Johnsand Tony Dudley-Evans
Second Language AcquisitionResearch:
StakingOut the Territory 315
Diane Larsen-Freeman

InformationforContributors 351
General InformationforAuthors
PublicationsReceived 355
PublicationsAvailable fromthe TESOL CentralOffice 359
TESOL MembershipApplication 367

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TESOL Quarterly
25th Anniversary
Summer and Autumn1991

Forthcomingin Autumn
MarianneCelce-Murcia on Grammar
PatriciaDunkel on Listening
Bill Grabe on Reading
Joan Morleyon Pronunciation
Ann Raimes on Writing
Pat Rigg on Whole Language

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ofEnglishto Speakers
of OtherLanguages, Inc.

26th Annual
Convention& Exposition
March 3-7, 1992
Canada organizers
MarjorieP. Knowles
SSanta Clara,California

Earl D. Wyman
Hawaii Campus

/ CapilanoCollege
SNorth Vancouver,B.C.

materialswillbe mailedin
Autumn1991 to all TESOLmembers.

SFor on registering
information and
exhibiting, write to:
1600 Cameron Street, Suite 300,
Alexandria, Virginia 22314 USA
Telephone (703) 836-0774
Fax (703) 836-7864

Celebrating 25 years of B.C. TEAL,

the Association of BritishColumbia Teachers of English as an Additional Language

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write: OrganizedbytheInstitute of
JamesO'Driscoll InternationalEducation
1ii rPlacement
I iiiiliiii i
3:i and in conjunctionwith
Special Services i
Division The
L-- Ministryof Education,
Instituteof International Youthand Sport
Education oftheSlovakRepublic
809 UnitedNationsPlaza I ComeniusUniversity,Bratislava
New York,NY 10017-3859 O HunterCollege,

212 i:i!
984-5395 Session I:
City Universityof New York

July 6-20, 1992

Session II: July 18-31, 1992

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Dictionaryof English
The BBI Combinatory
A Guideto WordCombinations

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Both books available from your bookseller or order from:

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tel. 215-836-1200 fax215-836-1204

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The TESOL Quarterly,a professional,refereedjournal,encouragessubmis-
sion of previouslyunpublishedarticleson topics of significanceto indi-
viduals concerned with the teaching of English as a second or foreign
languageand ofstandardEnglishas a second dialect.As a publicationwhich
representsa varietyof cross-disciplinaryinterests,both theoreticaland
practical, the Quarterlyinvites manuscriptson a wide range of topics,
especially in the followingareas:
1. psychologyand sociologyof language 3. testingand evaluation
learningand teaching;issues in research 4. professional
and researchmethodology preparation
2. curriculumdesign and development; 5. language planning
instructionalmethods,materials,and 6. professionalstandards
Because the Quarterlyis committedto publishingmanuscriptsthat con-
tributeto bridgingtheoryand practice in our profession,it particularly
welcomes submissionsdrawingon relevantresearch(e.g., in anthropology,
applied and theoreticallinguistics,communication,education, English
education [including reading and writing theory], psycholinguistics,
psychology,firstand second language acquisition, sociolinguistics,and
sociology) and thataddressimplicationsand applicationsof thisresearchto
issues in our profession.The Quarterlyprefersthat all submissionsbe
writtenso thattheircontentis accessible to a broad readership,including
those individuals who may not have familiaritywith the subject matter


1. The TESOL Quarterlyinvitessubmissionsin fivecategories:
Full-lengtharticles.Manuscriptsshould generallybe no longerthan20
double-spaced pages. Submitthreecopies plus threecopies of an infor-
mative abstract of not more than 200 words. To facilitatethe blind
review process,authors'names shouldappear onlyon a cover sheet,not
on the title page; do not use runningheads. Manuscriptsshould be
submittedto the Editor of the TESOL Quarterly:
Sandra Silberstein
Departmentof English,GN-30
Universityof Washington
Seattle,WA 98195 U.S.A.
Reviews. The TESOL Quarterlyinvitesreviewsof textbooks,scholarly
worksrelatedto theprofession,tests,otherinstructional
computersoftware,videotaped materials,and othernonprintmaterials),

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and other journals concerned with issues relevant to our profession.
Comparative reviews, which include a discussion of more than one
publication, and review articles, which discuss materials in greater
depth than in a typical review, are particularlywelcome. Reviews
should generallybe no longerthanfivedouble-spaced pages, although
comparativereviewsor review articlesmay be somewhatlonger.Until
furthernotice,submittwo copies of reviewsto theReview Editorof the
TESOL Quarterly:
Heidi Riggenbach
Departmentof English,GN-30
Universityof Washington
Seattle,WA 98195 U.S.A.
Book Notices. The TESOL Quarterlyalso welcomes shortevaluative
reviews. Book notices should provide a descriptive and evaluative
summaryof a recentpublication(see precedingsectionforappropriate
types of publications) and a briefdiscussionof the significanceof the
workin thecontextof currenttheoryand practicein therelevantarea(s)
of TESOL. Submissionsshould range between 350 and 500 words; any
submissionthatexceeds 500 words will be returned.Submittwo copies
of book notices to Heidi Riggenbach, Review Editor, at the address
given above.
BriefReportsand Summaries.The TESOL Quarterlyalso invitesshort
descriptionsof completed work or work in progresson any aspect of
theoryand practice in our profession.Reports of work in the areas of
curriculumand materialsdevelopment,methodology,teaching,testing,
teacher preparation,and administration are encouraged, as are reports
of research projects of a pilot nature or that focus on topics of
specialized interest.In all cases, the discussion of issues should be
supported by empirical evidence, collected througheitherformal or
informalinvestigation,and should be grounded with referencesto
similaror related work. Manuscriptsshould summarize key concepts
and resultsin a mannerthat will make the research accessible to our
diverse readership.Althoughall reportsand summariessubmittedto
thissectionwill be considered,preferencewill be given to manuscripts
of threeto seven double-spaced pages (includingreferencesand notes).
Longer articlesdo notappear in thissectionand should be submittedto
the Editor of the TESOL Quarterlyfor review. Send two copies of
reports and summaries to the Editor of the Brief Reports and
Gail Weinstein-Shr
Reading and WritingProgram
School of Education
Furcolo Hall
Universityof Massachusetts
Amherst,MA 01003-0096
The Forum. The TESOL Quarterlywelcomes commentsand reactions
fromreaders regardingspecific aspects or practices of our profession.

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Responses to published articles and reviews are also welcome. Con-
tributionsto The Forum should generallybe no longerthanfivedouble-
spaced pages. Submittwo copies to theEditor of the TESOL Quarterly
at the address given above.
Brief discussions of Research Issues in qualitative and quantitative
researchare also publishedin The Forum. Althoughthesecontributions
are typicallysolicited,readersmay send topic suggestionsand/ormake
knowntheiravailabilityas contributorsby writingdirectlyto theEditor
of Research Issues:
Graham Crookes
Departmentof Englishas a Second Language
Universityof Hawaii at Manoa
1890 East-WestRoad
Honolulu, HI 96822 U.S.A.
2. All submissionsto the Quarterlyshould conformto therequirements
of thePublicationManual of theAmericanPsychologicalAssociation
(Third Edition), whichcan be obtained fromtheOrder Department,
American PsychologicalAssociation,1200 SeventeenthStreet,NW,
Washington,DC 20036. The PublicationManual is also available in
many librariesand bookstores.
3. All submissionsto the TESOL Quarterlyshould be accompanied by
a cover letter which includes a full mailing address and both a
daytimeand an eveningtelephonenumber.Whereavailable, include
an electronicmail address and faxnumber.
4. Authorsof full-length articlesshould include two copies of a very
briefbiographicalstatement(in sentenceform,maximum50 words),
plus any special notationsor acknowledgmentsthattheywould like
to have included. Double spacing shouldbe used throughout.
5. The TESOL Quarterlyprovides 25 free reprintsof published full-
lengtharticlesand 10 reprintsof materialpublished in the Reviews,
BriefReportsand Summaries,and The Forum sections.
6. Manuscriptssubmittedto the TESOL Quarterlycannot be returned
to authors.Authorsshould be sure to keep a copy forthemselves.
7. It is understoodthatmanuscriptssubmittedto the TESOL Quarterly
have not been previouslypublished and are not underconsideration
8. It is the responsibilityof the author(s) of a manuscriptsubmittedto
the TESOL Quarterlyto indicate to the Editor the existenceof any
work already published (or under considerationfor publication
elsewhere) by the author(s) thatis similarin contentto thatof the
9. The Editor of the TESOL Quarterlyreserves the rightto make
editorial changes in any manuscriptaccepted for publication to
enhance clarityor style. The author will be consulted only if the
editinghas been substantial.


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10. The views expressed by contributorsto the TESOL Quarterlydo
not necessarilyreflectthose of the Editor, the Editorial Advisory
Board, or TESOL. Material published in the Quarterlyshould not
be construedto have the endorsementof TESOL.


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* This is the firstof two special issues celebratingthe25thanniversaryof
the TESOL Quarterly.To mark this occasion, I invited distinguished
professionalsto contributeperspectiveson definingaspects of our field.
Taken togetherthese comprise a portraitof our professionas it entersits
institutionaland intellectualmaturity.I countit a privilegeto have worked
with these authorsand to serve as stewardof thisimportantinstitution in
the fieldof applied linguistics.

In thisIssue
* The anniversaryissues begin with a slightlyrevised versionof Mary
Ashworth'sclosing plenary address, delivered at the 25th Annual
TESOL Conventionin New York. Borrowingits titlefroma Robert
Louis Stevensonpoem, the paper exploresthe concept of internation-
alism in the contextof TESOL's "strenuousfamily,"characterizedby
Ashworthas active, determined,eager, and spirited.Acknowledging
our diverse perspectives, Ashworth argues that we can unite
internationallyto advocate (for peace, literacy,language rights,and
education), we can work to protect multiculturalism, and we can
networkto supportinternational goals.
* H. Douglas Brown'spaper surveyscurrenttrendsin TESOL and serves
as an introductionto subsequentarticles.Brownidentifiesfourthemes.
Focusing on the learner,he sees an emphasis on issues of motivation
and empowerment.In the areas of sociopolitical and geographical
concerns, the paper notes an internationalrange of language policy
issues. Turningto subject matter,Brown highlightseffortsto develop
content-centeredand task-based curricula, and emphases on the
human issues of peace and environmentaleducation. Addressing


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* This is the firstof two special issues celebratingthe25thanniversaryof
the TESOL Quarterly.To mark this occasion, I invited distinguished
professionalsto contributeperspectiveson definingaspects of our field.
Taken togetherthese comprise a portraitof our professionas it entersits
institutionaland intellectualmaturity.I countit a privilegeto have worked
with these authorsand to serve as stewardof thisimportantinstitution in
the fieldof applied linguistics.

In thisIssue
* The anniversaryissues begin with a slightlyrevised versionof Mary
Ashworth'sclosing plenary address, delivered at the 25th Annual
TESOL Conventionin New York. Borrowingits titlefroma Robert
Louis Stevensonpoem, the paper exploresthe concept of internation-
alism in the contextof TESOL's "strenuousfamily,"characterizedby
Ashworthas active, determined,eager, and spirited.Acknowledging
our diverse perspectives, Ashworth argues that we can unite
internationallyto advocate (for peace, literacy,language rights,and
education), we can work to protect multiculturalism, and we can
networkto supportinternational goals.
* H. Douglas Brown'spaper surveyscurrenttrendsin TESOL and serves
as an introductionto subsequentarticles.Brownidentifiesfourthemes.
Focusing on the learner,he sees an emphasis on issues of motivation
and empowerment.In the areas of sociopolitical and geographical
concerns, the paper notes an internationalrange of language policy
issues. Turningto subject matter,Brown highlightseffortsto develop
content-centeredand task-based curricula, and emphases on the
human issues of peace and environmentaleducation. Addressing


This content downloaded from on Fri, 21 Jun 2013 01:19:12 AM

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current teaching practice, the paper argues that classrooms are
"increasinglyorientedtoward cooperative,learner-centeredteaching
in which learnerstrategytrainingplays a significantrole."
* Sandra Savignon explores the state of the art in communicative
language teaching (CLT) from an internationalperspective. Her
historicaldiscussion argues that CLT "can be seen to derive froma
multidisciplinary perspective that includes, at least, linguistics,
psychology, philosophy, sociology, and educational research." Her
explorationof currentissues focuses on the implicationsof CLT for
existingprogramsand includes a discussionof the role of grammar.
The paper concludes by detailing"promisingavenues of inquiry."
* David Nunan's paper reviewstheconceptual,curricular,and empirical
bases of task-based language teaching (TBLT). Afteroutliningthe
characteristicfeaturesof the approach, Nunan reviews its conceptual
basis, locating its originsin the educational mainstream.Examining
task-based curricula,the discussionnotes conceptual shiftsin the way
language and language learningare viewed. A detailed summaryof the
research base of TBLT is followed by a call to extend the research
* Ann Johnsand Tony Dudley-Evans, Coeditors (with JohnSwales) of
EnglishforSpecificPurposes:An InternationalJournal,survey30 years
of ESP. Their initial discussion details principal approaches to the
teaching of English for specific purposes. The "internationalnature
and scope of themovement"are emphasized next;indeed thediversity
of approach is such thateven the termESP is not universal.Johnsand
Dudley-Evans predictan increasingneed forresearchon thenatureof
writtenand spoken discourse, the insightsof which will increasingly
linkESP withotherdisciplines.
* Diane Larsen-Freeman'spaper documents20 yearsof second language
acquisitionresearch.The paper is organized around two foci: learning
and the learner.Larsen-Freemanargues thatearly work in each area
was essentiallydescriptive(focusingon what learnersdo) followed by
attemptsat explanation(how theylearn to do it). Two subthemesalso
emerge in this discussion:an alternatebroadening and narrowingof
perspective.The paper predictsthatthenextphase of researchwill be
distinguishedby a union of the research foci on learning and the
Sandra Silberstein


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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1991

Internationalismand Our
University Columbia

Thispaperexploreswhatinternationalism can meaninthecontext

of TESOL's "strenuous"(active,determined, eager,and spirited)
and as individual
family.As an organization we can
advocate-forpeace,literacy,languagerights, and education;we
can workto protectmulticulturalism withinand outsideNorth
America;and we cannetwork to supportinternationalgoals.

More yearsago thanI care to remember,when I closed the door

on high school teaching and crept through the back door to
universityteaching,I left with one deep regret:that I would no
longerbe able to read poetryto a captive audience. But as I gained
courage and confidenceas a university professor,I dropped a little
poem in here, a longer one there,and then as I received more
invitationsto speak in public, I decided that,provided I didn't
overdo it, I could continue to engage my pleasure-or as Joseph
Campbell (1988) mighthave put it-to "follow [my] bliss" (p. 118).
I don't do it because I like the sound of my voice-indeed, I don't
always like the sound of my voice-but because the poet can say
succinctly,yetwithpassion,thecore of whatI wantto say and what
will take me much longerto say.
The titleof my address is "Internationalism and Our 'Strenuous
Family"' and "strenuous family" is in quotation marks for a
reason-it is a quotation froma poem by Robert Louis Stevenson
(1918), whom you will recall was a sickly youth, the son of a
lighthouseengineer,a professionhe was expected to follow.But his
rebelliousspiritand his urge to writesenthim around theworld. In
one poem he expressesconcernthatpeople may thinkpoorlyof him
because he "fled the sea . . . to play at home with paper like a
child." He goes on,
*This is a slightlyrevisedversionof the closingplenaryaddress delivered at the25thAnnual
TESOL Convention, New York, March 1991; the oral character of the text has been


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In theafternoonoftime
A strenuous
The sandsof granite,
and beholdingfar
Andtallmemorials catchthedyingsun
The Parallel")

Perhaps TESOL too is in "the afternoonof time"and may smile

"well content"at its achievementsso far,at "the pyramidsand tall
memorials"it has built,but thereremainsmore to be done. But let
me take a few momentsto look at the strenuousfamilyof TESOL
before I move on to the wider world, and from there to an
examinationof the future,and what it may hold forus and require
Strenuoushas at least 16 synonyms.No, I won't listthemall-just
four:active, determined,eager, and spirited;these fourcharacter-
ized TESOL in its early days, along with vision. As a result the
TESOL familygrew quickly, both in North America and around
the world. The aims and objectives of TESOL were such thatthey
appealed to ESL/EFL individuals and associations. The first10
non-U.S. associationsto affiliatewithTESOL were based in Puerto
Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, British
Columbia, Quebec, Italy,Spain, Ontario,and Japan.
Today there are about 18,000 individual members, 43 U.S.
affiliates and 30 non-U.S. affiliates worldwide. You should
understandthatTESOL does not proselytize.NeitherthePresident
nor the Executive Director travelaround the world sellingTESOL
as if it were a product everyone ought to have. They provide
informationwhen asked-but TESOL sells itself.It sells itselfon its
Mission Statement,its past performance,and its potential-what it
can do forits presentand futuremembers.
Many now referto TESOL as TESOL International.But how do
we define that word international?What does it mean placed in
juxtapositionto TESOL? I want to begin by exploringthreepos-
sible quasi synonymsforinternationalism: advocacy, multicultural-
ism, and networking.

In 1984 Peter Strevenssuggested that a professionpossesses six
attributesnot shared by all occupations. The firstfour are (a)
selective entry,(b) mandatory training,(c) intellectual/practical
balance, and (d) standards.But it is thelast two thatI want to draw


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your attentionto. These are internationalinterdependence and
social responsibility,which togethersuggest that a professionhas
some responsibilityfor its members and for those they come in
contactwitharound the world. Social responsibility demands some
kind of advocacy; internationalinterdependencedemands thatthis
be a global advocacy. Now thiscreatessome problems,as the old
League of Nations and the new United Nations organizationfound
out. Nations prize themselveson theirindependence and do not
want others interfering in their internalaffairs.So what can an
organizationlike TESOL do? Obviouslyit cannotwriteto a head of
stateand say, "We don't like what you are doing,so change!" No, it
can do two things:(a) It can set an example, and (b) It can concern
itselfwithglobal issuesratherthanparticularissues.
Let us take thefirst-settingan example. I rememberwhen I was
a highschool teacherand I worked undera very,veryconservative
principal.WheneverI suggesteda change in the way theschool or
my departmentwas organized-which was fairlyfrequently-he
would ask if any otherschool in the districtwas doing it the way I
proposed. If I said yes, he was likelyto go along withmy idea; if I
said no, thatwas theend of the conversation.I spenttimesearching
forexamples,or near examples.Change may come when one group
in TESOL is able to pointto anothergroup in TESOL and advocate
thatsimilarchangesbe made in theirorganization,or institution, or
community, region, which places theresponsibilityon those who
are able to act as leaders in various aspects of TESOL-research,
workingconditions,teachertraining,etc.-to do so. In the October
1990 edition of the TESOL Newsletter,Rick Orem wrote: "The
harshreality,however,seems to confirmthatin orderforTESOL to
have an impact on employmentconditionsand sociopoliticalcon-
cernsworldwide,we mustbegin to exertourselvesmore forcefully
in the U.S." (p. 10). As theoldest,largest,and wealthiestmemberof
the TESOL family,the U.S. affiliates(taken as a singlegroup) do
have-have always had-a responsibilityto set an example, a
responsibility whichtheyhave accepted and carriedout for25 years
withcourage and common sense.
And elsewherein the world non-U.S. affiliates,whethernational
or regional,are providingexcellentexamplesthatothersmay follow
as they advocate improvement in areas that affect ESL/EFL
teachers and theirclients-but too oftenwe do not know about
them in spite of articlesin the TESOL Newsletter,or the TESOL
Quarterly,or at sessions at a convention. These examples may
be of many kinds: methodology,organization,in-service train-
ing, finances.Let me mentionan example fromWesternCanada:
TEAL's CharitableFoundation. Five years ago it was a thoughtin


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the mind of a past president,Nick Collins. Today it is a fund of
$161,000 which provides scholarships,visitorships,and in-service
trainingto the 1000membersof the Associationof BritishColumbia
Teachers of English as an Additional Language. As a result,the
national organization, TESL Canada, is setting up a national
foundation along similar lines, following TEAL's example, and
Alberta TESL is consideringa foundation.You may not need a
fund,and ifyou do, you may notbe able to develop itas TEAL did,
but the example is there for those who are interested.Within
TESOL are many examples of actions othersneed to hear about.
Later I will be talkingabout the importanceof networking,which
provides a mediumthroughwhich examples thatsupportadvocacy
can become known.
The second way in which TESOL can act as an advocate is by
supportingglobal ratherthanparticularissues: thatis, TESOL will
have more impactby seekingto improveliteracyworldwide,ifthat
is an issue it considers of value, if it refrainsfromcondemninga
particularcountryforitslow literacyrateand tellingitwhatitought
to do. TESOL's task is ratherto identifythose global issues, about
which,because of itsspecificexpertisein second language learning
and teaching,it has the rightto speak out upon and to act upon in
a way thatwill neitheroffendnoralarmvariousauthorities, but will
help to put right what may be wrong. What mightsome of those
issues be?

Misunderstandingsand miscommunicationslie at the root of
many quarrels, whether between individuals, communities, or
nations.Part of Canada's recentconstitutional crisiscentredaround
the currentmeanings placed upon the words distinctsociety by
French- and English-speakingCanadians, and what those words
mightmean in the futurein societaland legal terms.We TESOLers
are in the business of communication.We mustbe aware of those
factorsin the structureof language,in theeffectsof translation,and
in theprocess of communication thathinder the coming realityof
a vision-a vision of a betterorganization,a better society,a better
world. Darlene Larson rightlysays thatwe should view peace as a
process, not as a state. If we are going to become advocates for
peace we mustridourselvesof warlikelanguage; we mustadvocate
the language of mediation,cooperation,and negotiation.There is a
lot of materialwaitingto be researchedcontained in the language
used duringthe recentGulf War. What does TESOL have to say


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about the language of war, the language of peace? What does it
have to say about peace education?'

A world which promotesthe developmentof a sound economy
forall, and theappreciationof otherculturesand religions,depends
to a large degree on literacy. While elementaryideas can be
exchanged throughthe spoken word and pictures,it is the written
word, which is carried around the world in books and computers,
thatprovides a permanentrecord thatcan be examined time and
time again as dreamers tryto turna vision into reality.Literacy
opens the door of opportunity-butcontrolof language, firstand/
or second, is the pathwayto thatdoor. In her 1976 book The Home
of Man, Barbara Ward, the economist,wrote: "The world's poor
increasinglyknow thattheirconditionis not an act of God but the
choice of man [sic]" (p. 263). What does TESOL have to say about

The development of language skills in children,in their first
language and, if necessary,in a second or even thirdlanguage, is
theirright;withoutcontrolof language, childrenwill go nowhere.
One of Canada's nativeMembers of Parliamentwas told as a child
thathe mustmasterthe "white man's" speech so thathe could talk
to him on equal terms.He did and became a very respected and
influentialmember of the Canadian government.Without that
control of one of Canada's two official languages, he would
probably stillbe on thereserve.The Lau v. Nichols case in theU.S.
in 1974 was a landmarkcase in establishingthe rightof childrenin
California to assistance in masteringEnglish, the language of
instructionin the schools. Should childrenhave the rightto begin
school in theirfirstlanguage? Should immigrantshave the rightto
maintaintheirfirstlanguage in theirnew country?Should English
be the only officiallanguage of the U.S. and of parts of Canada?
KeithSpicer, Commissionerof OfficialLanguages in Canada in the
1970s, put his fingeron part of the problem we have in Canada
when he said: "We are theonlynationin theworldwhichthinksthat
learning another language is a pain in the neck instead of an
1 In the wake of the GulfWar, the professionhasbegun to look seriouslyat thisissue. A pre-
sessionat the 1991 GeorgetownRound Table on Languages and Linguisticsaddressed Lan-
guage and War. The 26thAnnualTESOL Conventionin Vancouver,B.C., has scheduledan
academic sessionon DiscourseAnalysis,Language,and Peace: A ChallengeforTESOL.


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opportunity"(cited in McLeod, 1979, p. 80). And he went on,
mixinghis metaphorssomewhat: "Maybe all of us who have our
snoutsin the linguistictroughoughtto be doing a lot of missionary
work with the general public about the value of languages"
(McLeod, 1979, p. 84). What does TESOL have to say about
language rights?

No one doubts the importanceof education to the well-beingof
the individualand the community,but any advocacy of the values
of education musttake into account the political and pedagogical
questionsthatface people in different partsof the world,questions
which are not easy to ask, let alone answer, particularlyin regions
where speech is muzzled. Similarly, the tools of our trade-
methodologyand materials-cannot be exportedfromone country
to another in the belief that what works in country A will
automaticallywork in countryB-it won't. Ideological, attitudinal,
and organizationaldifferencesbetween two countriesmay cause
country B to reject methods and materials used successfully
elsewhere. A teacherwho wrote home to Canada thather students
were "freaked out" by her teachingmethods had not learned the
meaning of culturalimperialism.What does TESOL have to say
about the value and process of education?
There are otherglobal issues whichmay come to yourmind such
as the environment,but my intentionis to focus on those issues
which draw on our expertiseas second language teachers.So farthe
resolutionspassed at TESOL's LegislativeAssemblyover the years
which have somethingto do withtheinternationalscene have dealt
with bilingualism,nuclear disarmament,and refugees.What other
issues mightTESOL speak out upon? One of our tasksas members
of TESOL is to present resolutionsin the internationalsphere,
resolutionsthatwill carryout TESOL's missionworldwide.
In his book The PrimeImperatives,Wittenberg(1968) wrote:"As
faras governmentis concerned,thisis itsresponsibility to listen.But
a governmentalso has a responsibilityto speak: to inform,to
enlighten,and to a certainextent,to guide public opinion;as well as
to make itselfaccountable to it" (p. 59). Can we insertTESOL for
government?Does TESOL have a responsibilityto listen and to
speak, to inform,to enlighten,and to a certain extent,to guide
public opinion, as well as to make itselfaccountable to it? Yes, I
thinkit does if it is to fulfilthose two attributesof a professionset
out by Peter Strevens-internationalinterdependenceand social
responsibility-butit mustbe prepared to listento all its members,
those near and thosefaraway, thoserichand those poor.


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I gave as my second synonym of internationalismthe word
It'sa bigwordinCanada-we useitallthetime,
thoughfew are sure exactlywhat it means or exactlyhow it works
out in practice.I findsomewhatintriguing,
perhapsbecause it is
a definitionof societyofferedby RobertArdrey(cited in
Bullivant,1981) some twentyyears ago: "A society is a group of
unequal beings organized to meet common needs. . . . The just
society . . . is one in which sufficient order protects members,
whatever their diverse endowments, and sufficient disorder
provides every individual with full opportunityto develop his
genetic endowment,whateverthatmay be" (p. xii). Perhaps a just
societyis one in whichthereis sufficientorderto
protectmembers regardless of theirrace,religion,
or creedand
disorderto givethemtheopportunity to developtheir
individuality, theymay decidethattobe.
I wanttobreakmulticulturalism intotwoparts:multiculturalism
inNorthAmerica andmulticulturalism outsideNorthAmerica.

The authors
language (English) is not replacing other languages; it is
supplementingthem" (Naisbitt & Aburdene, 1990, p. 139). That
would suggestthatbilingualismis on the increase, but more than
that,that the people of the world favourbilingualism.But in the
U.S. and Canada there are those who would keep our citizens
monolingual. In Canada we have a group called APEC-The
Alliance forthe Preservationof Englishin Canada-a sillytitle,for
English is in no danger of being lost. In both the U.S. and Canada
thereare places declaringthemselves"Englishonly"municipalities,
and while I can understandtheirconcernif offeringservicesin two
languages costs more than the taxpayerscan bear (and I question
that), I suspect the real reason lies deeper in the inability to
recognizethatin NorthAmericait is possibleto be bilingualand
and thatthisdoesnotconstitute
a threat
to societybut
a benefit.
an appreciationof the wealth of our human resources.Is it trueas
Megatrends2000 states,"It is the habit of Americans[and perhaps
Canadians] to brag about previous immigrantsand to complain
about currentones" (p. 40)? Is it just luck thatthe U.S. has become
one of the mostpowerfulnationsof theworld-the nationto which


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otherslook when theythinkof democracy and economics? Or is it
at least in part due to the richnessof thehumanmix thatsomehow,
by a process which perhaps we do not fullyunderstand,produces
the creativityand innovationthat has made the U.S. successful?
And the authorsof Megatrends2000 have somethingto say about
that human mix: "The more homogeneous our lifestylesbecome,
the more steadfastlywe shall cling to deeper values-religion,
language,art,and literature.As our outerworldsgrow more similar,
we will increasinglytreasurethe traditionsthatspringfromwithin"
(p. 120). And elsewhere: "The trendtoward a global lifestyleand
the countertrendtoward cultural assertion representthe classic
dilemma: how to preserve individualitywithin the unityof the
familyor community"(p. 153). Here in TESOL we too mustensure
that we preserve the individualityof the cultural and linguistic
groups thatmake up our "strenuousfamily."

Megatrends 2000 reportsthat more than 80% of all information
stored in more than 100 millioncomputersaround the world is in
English; thatEnglish is the language of internationalbusiness;that
English prevails in transportationand media; that English is
becoming the world's firsttrulyinternational language; and finally,
that one of the greatestappeals of English as a world language is
thatit is easy to speak badly! (Naisbitt& Aburdene,1990,pp. 140-
141). This would suggestthatas the 21st centuryprogresses,more
and more people will speak English, that it will become the
language in which all the affairsof the world will be conducted.
Perhaps, but perhaps not. Afterwatching the incredible changes
thathave takenplace in Eastern Europe recently,forecastingwhat
may happen even a decade ahead is risky.Yet if we in TESOL do
not have some sense of where we want to go, we will never build
the road thatleads there.
Marshall McLuhan (1962), before TESOL was born, coined the
phrase the "global village" (p. 31). Justas in a village one person's
actionsaffectothers,so in our world todayone country'sactionscan
affect many others. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq is a recent
example. TESOL mustlistento itsnon-U.S. affiliatesand learnhow
they view currentworld changes, learn what theirneeds are in
language training,learn what theycan offerto othersin TESOL.
Together we must all try to understand the various forces
affectingus-industrialization,urbanization,science and technol-
ogy, economics, political and religious dissension, and always
everywherethestruggleforfreedomand power. But as Megatrends


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2000 states: "By identifyingthe forces pushing the future,rather
than those thathave contained the past, you possess the power to
engage withyourreality"(p. 309). Elsewhere theauthorscomment:
"The most excitingbreakthroughsof the21stcenturywill occur not
because of technologybut because of an expanding concept of
what it means to be human" (p. 16). Whatdoes itmean to be human
in today's world,in a world of rapid change? How do we deal with
our internationalhuman neighbours?Does "being human" mean
interfering withothers,or encouragingthemto do what we believe
to be right,or leaving themalone? How ready are any of us to try
to understandotherpeople in theirterms?To listento theirvoices?
To silence our own?

My last synonymfor internationalismwas networking.I am
indebted to Darlene Larson (personal communication,1990) for a
phrase which I hope will stickin yourminds.She refersto TESOL
as "a global professionalnetwork" (p. 21) and that is as fine a
definitionof internationalism and our strenuousfamilyas you will
find-a global professionalnetwork.
In September 1990,the Executive Board went on a retreatduring
which time it decided to draw up a set of objectives forTESOL.
You are no doubt aware thatTESOL has a MissionStatementand
a Long Range Plan in the making.The objectives tryto place these
in a context,to provide some guidelineswhich can serve to govern
the growthand developmentof TESOL. The firstthreeobjectives
deal with professionaldevelopment,scholarship,and leadership.
The fourthreads as follows:
The Associationexiststo provideopportunities
fornetworking notonly
amongthe membersof TESOL but also amongthe membersof the
and withthemembership of otherlocal,national,and
professionalassociationswith which TESOL sharesa
This conferencehas given a wonderfulopportunityto all of us to
networkas individuals-that is, for those of us who are here. Not
everyonecan affordto come, not everyaffiliatecan affordto send
a delegate to networkwithdelegatesof otheraffiliates,but TESOL
has helped and is planningto continuehelping affiliateswho lack
the fundsto send delegates long distances.When Dick Allwright,
Presidentof TESOL 1988-1989,asked in the TESOL Newsletterof
April 1988 how TESOL could become more international,an
answer thatcame throughloudly was thatmanypeople outside the


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U.S. would like to become members but found the fees beyond
their capacity to pay. From time to time TESOL's bimonthly
general publication (formerlyTESOL Newsletter,as of February
1991 TESOL Matters) publishes the names and addresses of
affiliateswho have linked or who are seeking to link with other
affiliates.Colorado TESOL, forexample,has a partnershipwithan
in thePeople'sRepublicof Chinaby whichit pays the
institution'smembership in TESOL and exchanges information.
TESOL itselfnetworkswith otherlike-mindedorganizations;that
is, organizationsconcerned with language teaching issues such as
research,textbookreviews, professionalstandards,methodology,
job opportunities, collaborationbetween theoristsand practitioners;
or organizations concerned with global issues that TESOL has
identifiedas importantto it. In the springof 1990 TESOL became
officiallyan NGO (nongovernmentorganization) of the United
Nations Departmentof Public Information.This will give TESOL
easy access to informationon the objectives and projects of the
United Nations and its agencies. But TESOL is expected to
reciprocateby (a) providinga channel throughwhich information
concerningthe United Nations reaches the public; (b) playing a
crucial role in mobilizingpublic opinion and buildingunderstand-
ing for the United Nations,its related agencies and programs;and
(c) monitoringand promoting policies of various countries in
supportof United Nations goals and resolutions.("TESOL and the
United Nations,"1990) If we are serious,that'squite a responsibil-
Darlene Larson, TESOL's liaison to the United Nations, wrote
about the importanceof TESOL knowingwhat its message is to
other agencies and of timelyand efficientinformationsharing.In
her February 1990 article in the TESOL Newsletter,she suggests
that the various parts that make up TESOL-the standing
committees, the affiliates, the interest sections-might each
examine what they might give to a TESOL clearinghouse of
information, what each mightdo to build a networkto fosterglobal
We should not minimizethebeneficialeffectTESOL mighthave
in the world community.Abba Eban (1983) wrote that "interna-
tional organizationshave never been assigned a major role in a
world dominated by national sovereign states. Nevertheless,the
proliferation of international agencies ... [is] helping to create a
new consciousness of global responsibilityand interdependence"
(p. 286).


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I posed two questionsearlieron: (a) What mightthe futurehold
forus? and (b) Whatmay be requiredof us? Let us examinethefirst
Here is where the idealist and the pragmatistmeet face to face
and must eitherbang heads or hold hands. Remember Tennyson
(1842/1938)who wrote,
For I dippedintothefuture,faras humaneye
Saw theVisionoftheworld,and all thewonder
And how he followed thisidea of wonder witha terribleverse:
raineda ghastlydew
And then broughtto these two conflictingviewpointsa breath of
Far alongtheworld-wide whisperofthesouth
windrushing warm,
Withthestandards ofthepeoplesplunging
Till thewar-drum throbbedno longer,andthe
In theParliament ofman,theFederationof
Perhaps the futurewill continue to hold for us that swing of the
pendulum-peace to war and back; compassionto hatredand back;
feastto famineand back.
What may be required of us? Perhaps to tryto hold on to the
pendulum to prevent it swingingtowards war, and hatred, and
famine,and to do it togetheras a global profession,as TESOL
The authors of Megatrends 2000 state: "For centuries that
monumental,symbolicdate [theyear 2000] has stood forthe future
and what we shallmake of it. In a few shortyearsthatfuturewill be
here" (p. 11). When it comes, what shall we have accomplished in
the nine yearsleading up to it? Does TESOL have a role in creating
a betterworld? Withoutdoubt. We cannotrelyon world leaders to
create a better world. They cannot succeed alone. They do not


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know by and of themselvesthe shape of the world that we, the
people, envisage. In the corridorsof power are many tensions,
many irrationalities thatwe, the people, mustreduce and clarify.If
violence is not to continueexploding around the world, we must
ensure that a strongorganic life of nonviolence and rationalityis
alive and well theworld over. Many scientistsand scholarsare using
theirsense of responsibilityto create and exchange ideas for the
bettermentof thisfragileworld. The organizationcalled Educators
for Social Responsibilityhas listed ten themes that might be
included in a curriculum:peace and conflict, communication,
affirmation, cooperation,negotiation/mediation,handlingfeelings,
celebrating diversity,equity, being peacemakers, and the future
(Fine, 1990). Are there themes that ESL/EFL teachers might
include in theircurricula?George Jacobs (1990) has suggestedsome
thatmightincrease internationalawareness in ESL classes: change,
communication,commonality,diversity,humanability to impact
the future,and interdependence.But thereare some who condemn
the idealist as being impractical.Must thatbe so? Cannot the ideal
and thepracticalcoincide? To quote Abba Eban (1983) again: "The
taskis, as it always has been, to keep thefutureopen forlifeand, if
possible, forpeace. But theunderstandingof thistaskrequiresmore
complex and strenuouslabour by men and women who can see the
soil below as well as the vistasahead" (p. 11).
In Megatrends2000 the authorscomment:"You possess a front-
row seat to the most challengingyet most excitingdecade in the
historyof civilization"(p. 313). But is that enough-"a frontrow
seat," a bystander,a nonparticipant?Not for TESOL, not for this
strenuousfamily-a familythatduringits first25 yearshas shown
that it believes in action or, as Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, in
"beholding far along the sounding coast its pyramids and tall
memorials."I predictthatTESOL's next25 yearswill see its influ-
ence spread around the world.

Mary Ashworthis ProfessorEmerita having trainedESL teachersformany years
at the Universityof BritishColumbia. She is theauthorof fivebooks and numerous
articles.Now she enjoysgardening,traveling,and meetingold friends.


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Allwright,D. (1988,April). Internationalismin TESOL: Whose problem is

it? TESOL Newsletter,p. 2.
Bullivant,B. (1981). The pluralistdilemmain education.Sydney,Australia:
George Allen & Unwin.
Campbell, J. (1988). The power of myth (B. J. Flowers, Ed.). NY:
Eban, A. (1983). The new diplomacy. New York: Random House.
Fine, L. (1990, February). Resolving conflictcreatively:Peace education
concepts in the ESL classroom.TESOL Newsletter,p. 19.
Jacobs, G. (1990, February). ESOL and internationaleducation. TESOL
Newsletter,p. 27.
Larson, D. (1990, February). TESOL's role in global understanding:A
possible agenda. TESOL Newsletter,p. 21.
McLeod, K. A. (1979). Multiculturalism,bilingualism and Canadian
institutions.Toronto: Universityof TorontoPress.
McLuhan, M. (1962). The Gutenberg galaxy. Toronto: Universityof
Toronto Press.
Naisbitt,J.,& Aburdene,P. (1990). Megatrends2000. New York: William
Stevenson,R. L. (1918). Poems. London: Chatto & Windus.
Strevens,P. (1984,August).The responsibilities of EFL/ESL teachersand
theirassociations.TESOL Newsletter,p. 29.
Tennyson,A. (1938). Locksley Hall. In J.W. Bowers & J.L. Brooks (Eds.),
The Victorian age (p. 90). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
(Originalwork publishedin 1842)
TESOL and the United Nations: A new partnership.(1990, October).
TESOL Newsletter,p. 31.
Ward, B. (1976). The home of man. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
Wittenberg,A. I. (1968). The primeimperatives.Toronto:Clark Irwin.


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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1991

TESOLat Twenty-Five:
Whatare theIssues?
San Francisco State University

Fourmajorthemesappearto be running through ESOL teaching

and researcheffortsat the presenttime:(a) In our focus on
learners,we are attemptingto capitalize on their intrinsic
motivationtolearnEnglishas a meanstotheirempowerment; (b)
issueshaveus focusedon Englishas an international
language and on language policy issues in many countries,
includingtheU.S.; (c) effortsare beingmade to makecurricula
more content-centered and task-based,with an emphasison
pressingglobalissues;(d) our methodsare, in turn,increasingly
orientedtowardcooperative, teachingin which
learnerstrategytrainingplaysa significant

The occasion of the 25th anniversaryof TESOL turns our

thoughtsto the notion of time. We can be thankfulfor time.
Someone once said, "Time is what keeps everythingfromhappen-
ing all at once." While everythingdoes indeed seem to be happen-
ing all at once in our profession,we can, I think,look aroundus and
appreciate our currentstateof the artas a productof the collective
wisdom of at least 25 years of researchand practice. As we look
back over thisquartercenturyof accomplishment,what are some
of the major issues and challenges thatare currentlyengagingus,
and that,in the course of time,will one day be betterresolved?
Several major themes or perspectivesrun throughour teaching
and researcheffortsat thepresenttime.I referhereto issuesthatcut
across manyof thetopicsof theseanniversary issues,but whichmay
not be readilyidentifiedwithany singletopic. Four domainswill be
addressed: (a) Focus on the learner:Who are the learnersthatwe
are teaching? That is, fromthe deepest psychologicalviewpoint,
Why are they learning English? (b) Focus on sociopolitical and
geographical issues: Where is English teaching taking place and
what effectsdo geographicaldifferenceshave on our teaching?(c)
Focus on subject matter:What are we teaching?Are we teaching
structures, functions,and notions,or are we teachingcontent,tasks,


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and process? (d) Focus on method:How are we teachingEnglish?
What methodologicalapproaches characterizeour classrooms?
As you read further, I inviteyou to thumbthroughthearticlesthat
follow in the anniversaryissues of the TESOL Quarterly.Each
paper is an attempttodelve more deeply intoour profession.I hope
that this article will not so much provide an overview,but rather
provide issues to ponder,and some added perspectives.


Our firstfocus is the learnersthemselves.For such a viewpoint
one mightexpect a lengthysurveyof demographicdata on English
learnersaround theworld. Such surveyscan be useful,but I believe
thereis a deeper level of the Englishlanguage learnerthatformsa
prevailingand crucial concern for all teachers and researchers,a
level that probes the hearts and minds of students:Why are our
studentslearningEnglish? What are theirultimategoals? What can
knowledge of the Englishlanguage do forthem?
Two central,related issues presentlyoccupy a good deal of the
pedagogical focus on learners. The first is the construct of
motivation;the second, a concept associated withFreire(1970) and
others, empowerment. In virtuallyevery article in these 25th-
anniversaryissues,authorshave implicitlynoted the importanceof
learners' goals and of the empowering possibilities available
throughEnglishlanguage competence. Let us look more closely at
these two learnerissues.

Motivation:FromExtrinsicto Intrinsic
Motivationis one of the more complex issues of second language
acquisition research and teaching. For two decades, research on
motivationhas focused on RobertGardner's(1985; 1988; Gardner&
Lambert, 1972) distinctionbetween integrative(desire to learn a
language stemmingfroma positiveeffecttoward a communityof
itsspeakers) and instrumental(desireto learna language in orderto
attaincertaincareer,educational,or financialgoals) orientationsof
second language learners. The assumption is that integratively
motivatedlearnerswill be more successful.
But historyhas also shown us thatmotivationto learn a foreign
language is far too complex to be explained throughjust one
dichotomy (see Crookes & Schmidt, 1990). It is especially
problematic to do so as second languages are increasinglybeing
learned outside of what once were closely allied culturalcontexts.
In manynon-English-speaking countries,forexample, Englishmay


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be learned and used extensivelywithoutreferenceto a particular
nativeculture.Rather,learnersbecome highlyproficientin the lan-
guage in order to carryout specific purposes and/or to communi-
cate almostexclusivelywithothernonnativespeakersof English.
For pedagogical purposes, a more powerful conception of the
motivationconstructcan be foundin the contrastbetween intrinsic
and extrinsicmotivation.Intrinsicallymotivatedactivities,accord-
ing to Edward Deci (1975),
are onesforwhichthereis no apparentrewardexcepttheactivity
People seem to engagein the activitiesfortheirown sake and not
because they lead to an extrinsicreward. . . . Intrinsicallymotivated
behaviorsare aimed at bringingabout certaininternally rewarding
consequences,namely,feelingsof competenceand self-determination.
(p. 23)
Extrinsicallymotivatedbehaviors,on the otherhand, are carried
out in anticipationof a reward fromoutside and beyond the self.
Typical extrinsicrewards are money,prizes, gold stars,and letter
grades. Behaviors initiated solely to avoid punishmentsare also
An overwhelmingbody of researchnow shows the superiority of
intrinsicmotivationin educational settings.Surprisingly,
experimentsreveal fasterlearningand greatersuccess by students
who performtasks with no promise of an externalreward than
those to whom a reward has been promised. Why? First,human
beings universallyview "incongruity"and "uncertainty,"or what
Piaget (1985) would call "disequilibrium,"as motivating.In other
words, we seek out a reasonable challenge.Then we initiatebehav-
iors intended to conquer the challengingsituation(Deci, 1975).
Incongruityis not itself motivating,but optimal incongruity,or
what Krashen(1985) calls "i+1," presentsenoughof a possibilityof
being resolved thatwe will "go after"thatresolution.
The key to theprincipleof intrinsicmotivationis itspower to tap
into the learner'snaturalinquisitivenessand then to captivate the
learnerin a process of a confidence-building,ego-enhancing,quest
forcompetence in some domain of knowledge or skill.While some
degree of extrinsicreward will always remainimportantin the lan-
guage classroom,virtuallyall of our successfullanguage teaching
effortstoday are ultimatelyattemptsto intrinsically motivate our
Considera few activitiesand approachesthatcapitalizeon intrinsic
motivation by appealingto learners'self-determination
and autonomy:
- Teaching writingas a thinkingprocess in whichlearnersdevel-
op theirown ideas freelyand openly


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- Showing learnersreading strategiesthatenable themto bring
theirown informationto the writtenword
- Using language experience approaches in which studentscre-
ate theirown readingmaterialforothersin the class to read
- Doing oral fluencyexercisesin which learnerstalk about what
intereststhemand not about a teacher-assignedtopic
- Providingan academic lecturein a learner'sown fieldof study
to fillan informationgap
- Teaching language within a communicative approach (see
Savignon, 1990) in which learnersaccomplish certainspecific
- Givinggrammarlessons,iflearnerssee grammar'spotentialfor
increasingtheirautonomyin the second language
Intrinsicmotivationis of course not the only contributorto suc-
cess for a language learner.Terrell (1990) and othersdemonstrate
convincinglythatforsome learners,no matterhow desperatelythey
want to learn, or how valiantlytheytry,success may elude them.
But if the learnersin our classrooms are given an opportunityto
"do" language fortheirown personal reasons of achievingcompe-
tence and autonomy,surelythoselearnerswill have a betterchance
of success than if theybecome dependent on externalrewards for

Closely relatedto intrinsicmotivationis theconcept of empower-
ment. While it is unfortunatethat thistermhas lately become an
overused buzzword, it can nevertheless signify an important
constructin thelanguage teachingprofession.The termwas initially
popularized by the well-known Brazilian educator Paolo Freire
(1970), whose writingsand lectureshave stirredthe souls of manya
teacher to embark on the mission of liberating those who are
imprisonedby "banking"formsof education thatattemptto pour
knowledge into the supposedly passive, emptyvessels of students'
minds. Instead, we are commissioned to empower learners-
politically,economically,socially,and morally-to become critical
thinkers,equipped with problem-solving strategies, poised to
challenge those forcesin societythatwould keep thempassive.
Conditionsof powerlessnessare presentin everywalk of lifeand
in every corner of the earth. One perspective on thisobservation
can be found in Michael Lerner's (1989) book, Surplus Powerless-
ness. Lernerchallengesus to help people everywhereto overcome


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theirsense of powerlessness.Accordingto Lerner,it is notsufficient
to win the intellectualbattle about what the world mustlook like.
We musthelp create thatworld througha social movementcapable
of makingour dreamsreal. The firststep is to understandwhymost
of us participatein makingourselvesmore powerless thanwe need
to be, and thento build strategiesforchange (Bahouth,1990).
Our language classes can begin thatprocess of change. Clarke
(1989) defined empowermentas "the process by which individuals
gain a measure of controlover theirlives." Pennycook (1989) has
recentlyreminded us about our missionas teachers to empower
learners,to get themintrinsicallyinvolvedin the processof learning
English as a second or foreignlanguage in order to gain a measure
of controlover theirown lives.
Englishlanguage classes in the 1990sare showingsignsof provid-
ing such empowerment:
We are movingfrom: and shiftingtoward:
a focusonlyon product a focuson process
structures structures
preplanned,rigidcurricula open-endedcurricula
measuring onlyperformance gaugingcompetenceand potential
praisingonly"correct"answers encouraging calculatedguessing
championing analysis valuingsynthesisand intuition
The articlesthatfollow in these 25th-anniversary issues bear tes-
timonyto our quest as language teachersto workagainstpowerless-
ness of students.What could be more intrinsically motivatingfora
learnerthan to gain strategiclinguistictools foracademic success,
occupational expertise,political action, personal fulfillment, and
communicationacross international boundaries?


The second of four major topics of currentprofessionalinter-
change is the growingimportanceof such sociolinguisticissues as
language policy and language change, internationalvarieties of
English,and thepoliticizationof Englishlanguage issues,especially
in the U.S.

Englishas an International
At last count, there were some one billion speakers of English
around the globe. (Estimatesvary,of course,since censusdata and


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othertalliesyield onlyapproximatenumbers.)The growthof Eng-
lish language use has been staggering,especially in what have been
called the outer (Kachru, 1988) circle (India, Nigeria, Philippines,
etc.) and expandingcircle (China, Japan,Indonesia, etc.) of coun-
tries.Such growthhas produced numerouschallenges for English
teachers; among the more crucial are the following (taken from
1. English is increasinglynot learned as a tool forinteractionwith
just native speakers of the language. This is especially so in
countriesin the outerand expandingcircles.
2. English is not always learned as a tool for understandingand
teaching U.S. or British cultural values. We have grown
accustomed to linkingEnglishlanguage instruction withcultural
instruction, linkage which in many cases no longerapplies.
3. We are witnessinga trend toward more and more nonnative
speakersof Englishplayinga major role in the global teachingof
and spread of English.Alreadymost EFL teachersin the world
are nonnativespeakers.
The recognitionof varietiesof internationalEnglish puts a new
light on curriculumdesign and the specific focus of classroom
activities,especially in nonnative-English-speakingcountries.Eng-
lish is dominantin trade,commerce,banking,tourism,technology,
and scientificresearch.New varietiesof English,or "Englishes,"in
theoutercirclehave givenriseto theinternationalization of English,
described by Kachru (1988) as "an acculturationin a variety of
contextsthathas resultedin new contoursof the language and the
literature-inlinguisticinnovations,in literarycreativity,and in the
expansionof the culturalidentitiesof thelanguage" (p. 1).
Even in innercircle countrieswhere English is widely used as a
native language, English language programsare changingto keep
pace with thisnew pragmatism.Increasingly,curriculamust cater
to the immediate and practical needs of learners: English for
numerous occupational purposes, for specific academic fields of
pursuit,and Englishin the workplace.

EnglishPlus VersusEnglishOnly
In the case of Englishlanguage teachingin the U.S., the issue of
internationalization is curiouslyjuxtaposed with English Only, a
movementadvocatingthe exclusiveuse of the Englishlanguage for
all educational and political contexts,and a movementcarryingan
implicit assumption that the use of one's "home" language will


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impede success in learningEnglish. In contrast,the English Plus
movement(described in more detail below) ratherthandevaluing
the native languages of U.S. citizens and residents,advocates a
perspectivein whichschools and otherinstitutions promotefulluse
of English while respectingthe cognitive,affective,and cultural
importanceof freelymaintainingtheuse of one's home language.
G. Richard Tucker, Director of the Center forApplied Linguis-
tics,in predictingissuesforthe 1990s,recentlynoted that"therewill
be increasingdebate and polarizationover theissue of EnglishOnly
versusEnglishPlus as a guidingprincipleforU.S. society"(personal
communication,1990). What does not seem to be readilyapparent
to millionsin the U.S. is the fundamentaldifferencebetween these
two sociopoliticalviewpoints.English Only proponentsacross the
U.S. failto articulatethevalue of thehome languages of minorities,
and in what I considera flairof misguidedpatrioticzeal, tellus how
much betterit will be for"America" to be unifiedunder one lan-
guage. ArturoMadrid (1990) providesa cogent commentaryof the
issue: "The English Only movementtaps into and is informedby
deeply rooted fears: fear of persons who are differentfrom the
majoritypopulationand fearof change" (p. 63).
The fear of differentness, sad to say, has historicalprecedentsin
the U.S. The late 19thcentury,a period of reconstruction following
the Civil War, broughta flood of immigrantsinto the country.In
1886 the Statue of Libertywas dedicated. In 1892 Ellis Island was
established as a center for the mass processing of thousands of
immigrants,many fromeasternand southernEurope. Walt Whit-
man described the U.S. at thistimeas a "teemingnationof nations"
(cited in Calkins, 1975, p. 317). But therewas anotherside of the
story,one not so oftenheard. Newspapers and books reported a
growingmood of "Anglo-Saxonism"as more and more immigrants
poured into the country.A newspaper editorialof the day noted
that"the unique moralqualitiesof theEnglishspeakingrace are be-
ing threatenedby an influxof historicallydowntrodden,atavistic,
and stagnantraces" (cited in Calkins,1975,p. 329). In 1892,Thomas
Bailey Aldrichwrote,"Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,
and throughthem presses a wild and motley throng"(cited in
Calkins,1975,p. 330).
It would appear that the late 20th century is witnessing a
spreadingfear of the current"wild and motleythrong."However,
responses to the English Only perspective are readily available.
Practicalsolutionslie in variousformsof EnglishPlus programs(see
Cazden & Snow, 1990), in which home languages and culturesare
valued by schools and otherinstitutions, but in which English as a
second language is promoted and given appropriatefunding.The


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EnglishPlus principleis currentlybeing practiced,in both the U.S.
and Canada, in bilingualeducationprograms,immersionprograms,
sheltered English, content-centeredcurricula, and ESL in the
workplace. But thereremainmanypolitical and economic barriers
thatthreatentheirsuccess. If thisdebate is any indication,those of
us who teach ESL have a challengingagenda ahead as we strivefor
cross-culturalunderstandingand a practical,open-mindedEnglish
language policy.

The articlesthat follow in these anniversaryissues focus on the
subject matterof our teaching,especially on linguisticsubcatego-
ries. At least two articlesdeal with some new perspectiveson sub-
ject matter,as our professionalattentionis increasinglydrawn to-
ward the purposes forwhich learnerswish to use theirEnglishlan-
guage skill.In a recentletter,Russell Campbell, a formerTESOL
President and Professor in the TESL and Applied Linguistics
Departmentat theUniversityof California,Los Angeles,noted that
as we look toward the 21st century,"our professionwill depend
more and more on our abilityto provide optimalconditionsforlan-
guage acquisition and less and less on language teaching and
learningas we traditionallythinkof it" (personal communication,
1990). As we look around us, alreadywe are seeing rapid growthof
content-centeredprograms,whole language approaches, and task-
based classroomactivities.

Content-centeredinstruction,according to Brinton,Snow, and
Wesche (1989), is "theintegrationof contentlearningwithlanguage
teachingaims. More specifically,it refersto the concurrentstudyof
language and subject matter,with the formand sequence of lan-
guage presentationdictated by contentmaterial" (p. vii). Tucker
and Crandall (1989) point out that such an approach "contrasts
sharplywithmanyexistingpracticesof methodsin whichlanguage
skillsare taughtvirtuallyin isolationfromsubstantivecontent"(p.
2). When language becomes the medium to convey informational
contentof interestand relevance to the learner,then learnersare
pointed toward mattersof intrinsicconcern. Language becomes
incidentalto and a vehicle foraccomplishinga set of contentgoals.
The rise of language programs in which attentionto subject
matteris primaryhas givenus new opportunitiesand challenges.In
content-centeredclassrooms,one hopes foran increase in intrinsic


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motivation and empowerment. Students are pointed beyond
transient extrinsic factors like grades and tests to their own
competence and autonomy as intelligentindividuals capable of
actually doing something with their new language. Challenges
range froma demand fora whole new genreof textbooksand other
curricularmaterialsto what Jo Ann Crandall (personal communica-
tion, 1990) describes as "the requirementthat language teachers
become much more comfortablewith the concepts and skills,as
well as the language, of other academic disciplines and of the
prospectof workingin teams across disciplines."

Whole LanguageEducationand Task-BasedTeaching

Other subject-matter issues in our profession include new
challenges of presenting"whole language" (see Rigg, 1990) to our
students,not language fragmentedinto"skillareas." Furthermore,
the whole language movement now advocates principles of
education already referredto above in the section on empower-
ment.For more on thistopic,I inviteyou to look at Rigg'sarticlein
the Autumn1991 TESOL Quarterly.
Yet anothersubject matterconcern is addressed in the present
issue of the Quarterlyby David Nunan, thatof task-basedlearning
in the second language classroom. In keeping with currenttrends
toward centeringon learners' intrinsicneeds for using language,
task-basedcurriculafocus on what studentscan do withlanguage.
As studentsresolve ambiguity,findsolutionsto problems,and ac-
complishspecifictaskswiththeirlanguage,theycan moreefficient-
ly integratetheirlinguisticand cognitivecompetence.
It is essentialforall of us to understandthatthemorerecentfocus
on content,purpose, and task as the primarysubject matterin lan-
guage teaching in no way reduces the importance of the
fundamentalproblemof how to teach language forms.Attentionto
listening,speaking,reading, and writing,and to grammaticaland
discourse structuresthatgive rise to the "fourskills"has been and
always will be a central concern in the profession.In fact, the
pedagogical shiftfrom a direct focus on language formsto the
creationof "optimal conditions"forlanguage acquisitionis a com-
plex linguisticissue (see Long & Crookes, in press). The task-based
approach quite simplycannot be viewed as a collective excuse to
abandon formallinguisticconcerns.Rather,our challenge today is
notjusthow to organizecontentand task,but also how to ensurethe
simultaneous,efficientacquisitionof essentialelementsof the lan-
guage code.


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HumanIssues: Peace and Environmental
Content-centeredand task-based language classes have a pleth-
ora of subject-matterareas on whichto focus a curriculum,a mod-
ule, or a single activity.We thinkof topics like English for engi-
neers,English for (various) academic purposes, or "how to buy an
airplane ticket"as typical.In our effortsto offerimmediatelyprag-
matic, "here and now" materialto our students,we can, I believe,
also focus learnerson some of the more ultimateissues of human
survival.It is gratifying to see thatat timesthe contentof our lan-
guage classes have been centered on what I would call human is-
sues, namely, the universal problem of planetarysurvival-what
some (see Fox, 1990) are calling"planethood."Peace education and
environmentalconsciousness-raising comprisea legitimatecontent-
centeredfocus thatcan help to empower students.
While we are indeed language teachers,commissioned by our
various institutions to enable studentsto communicatein the Eng-
lishlanguage,I thinkit is essentialto understandthatwe are also, as
Giroux and McLaren (1989) put it (quoted by Pennycook, 1989),
"transformative intellectuals."That is, we are
who are able and willingto reflectupon theideological
principlesthatinformpractice,who connectpedagogicaltheoryand
practice to wider social issues, and who work togetherto share ideas,
of labor,and embodyinteachinga
visionofa betterand morehumanelife.(p. 613)
As transformative intellectuals,our commission as teachers most
certainlyincludes the goal of helpinglearnersto become informed
about as many issues as possible thatintrinsically
Withconflict,war, and ecological decay as a way of lifein what I
would call a new world disorder,we as Earth's stewardshave an
Justin the last few years we have witnesseda global movement
of peace education. Various books and manuals (see Hicks, 1988;
Reardon, 1989) have led the way. The last few TESOL conventions
have featured sessions on peace education. Wenden (1990),
Ashworth(1990), and othershave published articlesin the TESOL
Newslettercalling our attentionto ways thatESOL classes can be
infused with awareness and action for peace and for conflict
resolution.The environmentis but one furtherfrontierfor Earth's
peacemakers (Greig,Pike, & Selby, 1989). So, just as we have had
our professionalheads turned toward peace education, we must
continue to maintain heightened sensitivityto environmental
education, an issue that visibly and tangiblytouches the lives of
everyhumanbeing on earth(see Brown,in press,forsome specific


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activitiesforenvironmentaleducation). The worldwidecommunity
of teacherscan collectivelycreate an outpouringof tender,loving
care for Earth's remainingresources and a deep respect for our
fellow stewardson thisplanet.

Communicative, Cooperative,Student-CenteredTeaching
In the last decade, a great deal has been published and spoken
about communicativelanguage teaching,cooperativecurricula,and
student-centered classrooms.Both Savignon's and Nunan's articles
in thisissue of the Quarterlyprovide currentreferences,problems,
and reflectionson these topics. Beneath all three trends lies a
historical progression of pedagogical effortsto look inside the
learner,to ask how thatlearnercan best internalizea second lan-
guage, and to experimentsystematically withclassroomapproaches
to accomplish the learner'scommunicativegoals.
Twenty-fiveyears ago, we were centrallyconcernedwithissues
surrounding the linguistic description of languages and their
pedagogical applications. We were quite worried about how
Chomsky'sgenerativegrammarwas going to fitinto our language
classrooms (Lamendella, 1969). We were reluctantto break away
fromour stronginterpretation of thecontrastiveanalysishypothesis
(Wardhaugh, 1970). We were still strongly,if not exclusively,
dependent on the discipline of linguisticsforour professionaland
bureaucratic identity.We were only just beginning to question
teachingmethodsthatadvocated "overlearning"throughclassroom
drilland memorization(Brown, 1972; Rivers,1964). Insightsfrom
children's"natural"means of acquiringtheirfirstlanguage were just
beginningto be tapped (Cook, 1969). And the descriptioncould go
Today, we benefitfromthe victoriesand defeatsof our quarter-
centuryjourney. But today the methodological issues are quite
differentand qpite complex. Beyond grammaticaland discourse
issues,we are probingthe natureof social, cultural,and pragmatic
featuresof language. We are exploringpedagogical meansfor"real-
life" communicationin the classroom. We are tryingto get our
learners to develop fluency, not just the accuracy that has so
consumed our historicaljourney.We are equipping our students
with tools for generatingunrehearsedlanguage performance"out
there" when they leave the womb of our classrooms. We are
concerned withhow to facilitatelifelonglanguage learningamong
our students,not just with the immediate classroom task. We are
looking at learnersas partnersin a cooperative venture.And our


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methods seek to draw on whateverintrinsically
sparks learnersto
explore and to create.

LearnerStrategy Training
One of the most powerful methodological principles that is
increasinglypracticed in our professionis what I like to call the
strategicinvestmentof learners in theirown linguisticdestinies.
Teaching methodologycan be designed to let studentsin on some
of the "secrets" of successful language learning. Traditionally,
studentswalk intoa language classroomand are at themercyof the
teacher, the text,the prescribed curriculum.They usually do not
even know what a "strategy"is, and simplyassume thatlanguage
will be learned just like any othersubject. We can help studentsto
learnhow to learn.We can help themto take some responsibility for
theirown success by actually providinglearners with a sense of
what a strategyis and how they can develop some of theirown
Some excellentmaterialon learnerstrategytrainingis now avail-
able to teachers. Oxford (1989) is a gold mine of informationfor
teacherswho wishto see how literallydozens of classroomactivities
and exercises can train learners to develop successful strategies.
O'Malley and Chamot (1990) give an excellentoverview of signifi-
cant researchon language learningstrategies.Othermaterials(Car-
rell,Pharis,& Liberto,1989; Cohen, 1990; Wenden & Rubin, 1987)
combine researchreportsand practicalclassroomsuggestions.Prac-
tical resourcesare now available to studentsthemselvesin the form
of learningguidebooks and textbooks.Brown (1989) gives foreign
language learners 15 easy-to-read chapters with exercises to
heightenawareness and to initiatestrategiesfortheirown success.
Brown (1991) appeals to formerand presentlanguage learnersto
develop some awareness of how theymightturnfailureinto suc-
cess. Studenttextbookslike Chamot,O'Malley, and Kiipper (1991),
and Ellis and Sinclair (1989) offerstrategyinstructionalong with
language instruction.
Part of teachinglearnershow to learn involves helpingstudents
simplyto become aware of how certainactivitiesin the classroom
are designed to develop strategiesforsuccess.


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Whenteachers: theycan help studentsto be

play guessinggames and other thatit'simportantto be a risk

communicationgames, takerand to lower inhibitions.
explicitlyencourage or direct thatit'simportantforthemto
studentsto go beyond class- set theirown goals fortheir
room assignments, own purposes.
use movies or tapes, or have of the importanceof seeing
themread passages rapidly,or the "big picture,"and of not
do skimmingand scanning always focusingon the minute
exercises, details.
directstudentsto sharetheir of the importanceof
knowledge and ideas, or talk socioaffectivestrategiesof
in small groups, cooperativelearning.
praise studentsforgood thattheirintuitionsabout the
guesses and fortryingout the language can be reliable
language in novel situations, sources of knowledge.
deliberatelywithholda direct thattheycan make theirmis-
correctionof error,or let stu- takes work forthemrather
dentscorrecteach other's thanagainstthem.
What could be more intrinsically motivatingto studentsthan to
develop theirown autonomy by utilizingnumerous strategiesof
learning?Theirsecond language becomes theirown, and simplythe
act of accomplishingsomethingin the language is its own reward.
Their strategicinvestmentpays off.

We can be proud of this25-yearmarkforTESOL. We've come a

long way. The problems and issues are complex, but I think
increasing numbers of English teachers around the world feel
impelled to become betterand bettertransformative intellectuals-
agents for change. Language is a tool for overcomingpowerless-
ness. Our professionalcommitmentintrinsically drives us to help
theinhabitantsof thisplanetto communicatewitheach otherand to
negotiatethe meaningof peace, of goodwill,and of survivalon this



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Some materialin thispaper was delivered in a featuredaddress,"On Track to the
21st Century:Destinationsfor the Nineties,"at the 24th AnnualTESOL
Convention,San Francisco,March 1990.

H. DouglasBrownis Professor ofEnglishandDirectoroftheAmerican Language
Instituteat San FranciscoStateUniversity.
His publications
LanguageLearning and Teaching(PrenticeHall,1987)andBreakingtheLanguage
Press,1991).He was EditorofLanguageLearningfrom1970
to 1979.

Ashworth, M. (1990, February). TESOL peace education. TESOL
Newsletter,p. 4.
Bahouth,P. (1990). How can we save it? Greenpeace, 15(1), 4-8.
Brinton,D. M., Snow, M. A., & Wesche, M. B. (1989). Content-based
second language instruction. New York: Newbury House.
Brown,H. D. (1972). Cognitivepruningand second language acquisition.
Modern Language Journal,56, 218-222.
Brown, H. D. (1989). A practical guide to language learning.New York:
Brown, H.D. (in press). Fifty simple things you can do to teach
environmentalawareness and action in your English language class-
room. The Language Teacher (FormerlyJALT Journal:Journalof the
Japan Associationof Language Teachers).
Calkins, C. (1975). The story of America. Pleasantville,NY: Reader's
Carrell,P. L., Pharis,B. G., & Liberto,J.C. (1989). Metacognitivestrategy
trainingforESL reading.TESOL Quarterly,23(4), 647-678.
Cazden, C., & Snow, C. (Eds.). (1990). English Plus: Issues in bilingual
education (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social
Science No. 508). Newbury Park,CA: Sage.
Chamot, A., O'Malley, J., & Kiipper, L. (1991). Building bridges. New
York: Heinle & Heinle.
Clarke, M. (1989, March). Some thoughts on empowerment. Paper
presentedat the 23rd AnnualTESOL Convention,San Antonio,TX.
Cohen, A. (1990). Language learning:Insightsfor learners,teachers,and
researchers.New York: Newbury House.
Cook, V. (1969). The analogy between firstand second language learning.
InternationalReview of Applied Linguistics,11, 13-28.
Crookes, G., & Schmidt, R. (1990, March). Motivation: Reopening the
researchagenda. Paper presentedat the 24th Annual TESOL Conven-
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Deci, E. L. (1975). Intrinsicmotivation.New York: PlenumPress.
Ellis, G., & Sinclair, B. (1989). Learning to learn English: A course in
learnertraining.London: Cambridge UniversityPress.
Fox, L. (1990, April). Planethood: An ESL writing course on global
community.TESOL Newsletter,p. 19.
Freire,P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York:Seabury Press.
Gardner,R. C. (1985). Social psychologyand second language learning.
London: Edward Arnold.
Gardner,R. C. (1988). The socio-educationalmodel of second language
learning:Assumptions,findings,and issues. Language Learning,38(1),
Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudesand motivationin
second language learning.Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Greig, S., Pike, G., & Selby, D. (1989). Earthrights:Education as if the
planet reallymattered.London: World WildlifeFund.
Hicks, D. (1988). Education forpeace. London: Routledge.
Kachru, B.B. (1988). Teaching world Englishes. ERIC/CLL News
Bulletin,12(1), 1-8.
Krashen,S. D. (1985). The inputhypothesis.London: Longman.
Lamendella, J.(1969). On the irrelevanceof transformational grammarto
second language pedagogy. Language Learning,19, 255-270.
Lerner, M. (1989). Surplus powerlessness.Washington,DC: Institutefor
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syllabusdesign. TESOL Quarterly.
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AmericanAcademy of Politicaland Social Science No. 508, pp. 32-65).
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language acquisition.New York: Cambridge UniversityPress.
Oxford, R. C. (1989). Language learningstrategies:What every teacher
oughtto know. New York: Newbury House.
Pennycook,A. (1989). The concept of method,interestedknowledge,and
the politicsof language teaching.TESOL Quarterly,23(4), 589-618.
Piaget, J. (1985). The equilibrium of cognitive structures.Chicago:
Universityof Chicago Press.
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Bulletin,13(2), 1-8.
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Terrell, T. D. (1990). Natural versus classroom input: Advantages and
disadvantages for beginning language students. In J. Alatis (Ed.),
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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1991

Teaching:Stateof theArt
Universityof Illinoisat Urbana-Champaign

Thispaperlooksbriefly at thebeginningsofwhathas cometobe

knownas communicative languageteaching(CLT), thendiscusses
current issuesand promising avenuesof inquiry.The perspective
CLT is seento be nota British,
is international.
phenomenon, butratheran internationaleffort
to respondto the
needsofpresent-day languagelearnersinmanydifferent contexts

Not long ago, when American structuralistlinguistics and

behavioristpsychologywere the prevailinginfluencesin language
teachingmethodsand materials,second/foreignlanguage teachers
talked about communicationin termsof language skills,seen to be
four:listening,speaking,reading,and writing.These skillcategories
were widely accepted and provided a ready-made frameworkfor
methods manuals,learnercourse materials,and teachereducation
programs. They were collectively described as active skills,
speakingand writing,and passive skills,readingand listening.
Today, listenersand readers are no longer regarded as passive.
They are seen as active participantsin the negotiationof meaning.
Schemata, expectancies,and top-down/bottom-upprocessingare
among the termsnow used to capture the necessarilycomplex,
interactivenature of this negotiation. Yet full and widespread
understandingof communicationas negotiationhas been hindered
by the terms that came to replace the earlier active/passive
dichotomy. The skillsneeded to engage in speaking and writing
activities were described subsequently as productive, whereas
listeningand readingskillswere said to be receptive.
While certainlyan improvementover the earlieractive/passive
representation,the terms productive and receptive fall short of
capturing the interactivenature of communication.Lost in this
productive/receptive,message sending/messagereceiving repre-
sentationis the collaborativenatureof meaning making.Meaning


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appears fixed, rather,immutable, to be sent and received, not
unlikea footballin thehands of a team quarterback.The interestof
a footballgame lies of course not in the football,but in the moves
and strategiesof the playersas theyfake,pass, and punttheirway
along the field. The interestof communicationlies similarlyin the
moves and strategiesof the participants.The terms that best
representthe collaborativenatureof what goes on are interpreta-
tion, expression,and negotiationof meaning. The communicative
competence needed forparticipationincludesnot onlygrammatical
competence,but pragmaticcompetence.
The inadequacy of a four skills model of language use is now
recognized. And theshortcomingsof audiolingualmethodologyare
widely acknowledged. There is general acceptance of the
complexityand interrelatednessof skillsin both writtenand oral
communicationand of the need forlearnersto have theexperience
of communication,to participate in the negotiationof meaning.
Newer, more comprehensivetheoriesof language and language
behavior have replaced those thatlooked forsupportto American
structuralismand behavioristpsychology.The expanded, interac-
tive view of language behavior they offerpresentsa number of
challenges for teachers. Among them, how should form and
functionbe integratedin an instructionalsequence? What is an
appropriate norm forlearners?How is it determined?What is an
error?And what, if anything,should be done when one occurs?
How is language learningsuccess to be measured? Acceptance of
communicative criteria entails a commitmentto address these
admittedlycomplex issues.
Second language acquisition researchersface similarproblems.
Examination of the learning process from a communicative
perspective has meant looking at language in context,analysis of
learner expressionand negotiation.Contrastiveanalysis (CA), the
prediction of learner difficultiesand potential sources of errors
based on a contrastiveanalysisof two or more languages, seemed
far more straightforwardthan do contemporaryapproaches to
erroranalysis(EA), the analysisof learnerlanguage as an evolving,
variable system.The focus of thisanalysiscontinuesto broaden. An
initial concern with sentence-levelmorphosyntacticfeatureshas
expanded to include pragmatics,taking into account a host of
cultural,gender,social, and othercontextualvariables. Researchers
who confrontthecomplexityof theirtaskmightwell look back with
nostalgiato an earliertimewhen theanswersto improvedlanguage
teachingseemed withinreach.
By and large, however, the language teaching professionhas
responded well to the call for materials and programs to meet


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learner communicative needs. Theory building continues.
Communicative competence has shown itselfto be a robust and
challenging concept for teachers, researchers, and program
developers alike. Communicative language teaching (CLT) has
become a term for methods and curriculathat embrace both the
goals and the processes of classroomlearning,forteachingpractice
thatviews competence in termsof social interactionand looks to
furtherlanguage acquisition research to account for its develop-
ment.A look in retrospectat theissueswhichhave broughtus to our
presentunderstandingof CLT will help to identifywhat appear to
be promisingavenues of inquiryin theyearsahead.


From its introductioninto discussionsof language and language
learningin theearly1970s,thetermcommunicativecompetencehas
promptedreflection.Fortunatelyforthe survivalof communicative
competence as a usefulconcept,perhaps,thetermhas notlentitself
to simple reduction,and with it the riskof becoming yet another
slogan. Rather, it continues to representa concept that attracts
researchers and curriculum developers, offering a sturdy
frameworkforintegrating linguistictheory,research,and teaching
Present understandingof CLT can be traced to concurrent
developmentson both sides of the Atlantic.In Europe, duringthe
1970s, the language needs of a rapidly increasing group of
immigrantsand guestworkers,and a richBritishlinguistictradition
that included social as well as linguisticcontextin descriptionof
language behavior,led to the Council of Europe developmentof a
syllabus for learners based on functional-notionalconcepts of
language use. Derived from neo-Firthiansystemicor functional
linguisticsthatviews language as meaningpotentialand maintains
the centralityof context of situationin understandinglanguage
systemsand how theywork, a thresholdlevel of language ability
was described foreach of thelanguagesof Europe in termsof what
learners should be able to do with the language (van Ek, 1975).
Functionswere based on assessmentof learnerneeds and specified
the end result,the product of an instructionalprogram.The term
communicative was used to describe programs that used a
functional-notional syllabus based on needs assessment,and the
language for specificpurposes (LSP) movementwas launched.
Concurrentdevelopment in Europe focused on the process of
communicative classroom language learning. In Germany, for
example, against a backdrop of social democratic concerns for


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individual empowerment,articulatedin the writingsof contempo-
raryphilosopherJiirgenHabermas (1970, 1971), language teaching
methodologistsCandlin, Edelhoff,and Piepho, took thelead in the
developmentof classroommaterialsthatencouragedlearnerchoice
and increasing autonomy (Candlin, 1978). Their systematic
collection of exercise types for communicativelyorientedEnglish
teachingwere used in teacherin-servicecourses and workshopsto
guide curriculumchange. Exercises were designed to exploit the
varietyof social meaningscontainedwithinparticulargrammatical
structures.A systemof "chains"encouragedteachersand learnersto
define their own learning path throughprincipled selection of
relevant exercises. Similar exploratoryprojects were also being
initiatedby Candlin (1978) at his academic home, the Universityof
Lancaster, England, and by Holec (1979) and his colleagues at the
Universityof Nancy (CRAPEL), France.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Hymes (1971) had reacted to
Chomsky's characterizationof the linguisticcompetence of the
ideal native speaker and proposed the term communicative
competence to representthe use of language in social context,the
observance of sociolinguisticnorms of appropriacy. His concern
with speech communities and the integration of language,
communication, and culture was not unlike that of Firth and
Halliday in the Britishlinguistictradition (see Halliday, 1978).
Hymes' communicativecompetence may be seen as the equivalent
of Halliday's meaning potential. Similarly, his focus was not
language learningbut language as social behavior. In subsequent
interpretationsof the significanceof Hymes' views for learners,
U.S. methodologiststended to focus on native-speakercultural
norms and the difficulty,if not impossibility,of authentically
representingthemin a classroom of nonnativespeakers.In lightof
thisdifficulty,the appropriatenessof communicativecompetence
goal was questioned (e.g., Paulston,1974).
as an instructional
Atthesame time,in a researchprojectat the Universityof Illinois,
Savignon (1972) used the term communicative competence to
characterizethe abilityof language learnersto interactwith other
speakers,to make meaning,as distinctfromtheirabilityto perform
on discrete-pointtestsof grammaticalknowledge. At a time when
pattern practice and error avoidance were the rule in language
teaching,thisstudyof adult classroomacquisitionof Frenchlooked
at the effectof practice in the use of communicationstrategiesas
partof an instructional program.By encouragingstudentsto ask for
information,to seek clarification, to use circumlocution and
whatever other linguisticand nonlinguisticresources they could
musterto negotiatemeaning,to stickto the communicativetask at


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hand, teacherswere invariablyencouraginglearnersto take risks,to
speak in other than memorized patterns.When test resultswere
compared at the end of the 18-week, 5-hour-per-weekprogram,
learners who had practiced communicationin lieu of laboratory
patterndrillsforone hour a week performedwithno less accuracy
on discrete-pointtests of structure.On the other hand, their
communicative competence as measured in terms of fluency,
comprehensibility, effort,and amountof communicationin a series
of four unrehearsedcommunicativetasks significantlysurpassed
thatof learnerswho had had no such practice. Learnerreactionsto
the testformatslentfurther supportto theview thateven beginners
respondwell to activitiesthatlet themfocuson meaningas opposed
to formal features. (A related findinghad to do with learner
motivation.Motivationto learn French correlated,not with initial
attitudestoward French speakers or theFrenchlanguage, but with
success in the instructionalprogram.)
A collection of role plays, games, and other communicative
classroom activitieswere developed subsequentlyfor inclusionin
the U.S. adaptation of the French CREDIF materials, Voix et
Visages de la France (Coulombe, Barr&,Fostle,Poulin,& Savignon,
1974). The accompanying guide (Savignon, 1974) described their
purpose as that of involving learners in the experience of
communication.Teachers were encouraged to provide learners
with the French equivalent of expressionslike "What's the word
for?""Please repeat,""I don't understand,"expressionsthatwould
help themto participatein the negotiationof meaning.Not unlike
the effortsof Candlin and his colleagues workingin a European
EFL context, the focus was on classroom process and learner
autonomy.The use of games,role plays,pair and othersmall-group
activitieshas gained acceptance and is now widely recommended
forinclusionin language teachingprograms.
CLT thus can be seen to derive from a multidisciplinary
perspective that includes, at least, linguistics, psychology,
philosophy, sociology, and educational research. The focus has
been the elaboration and implementation of programs and
methodologies that promote the development of functional
language ability throughlearner participationin communicative
events.Centralto CLT is the understandingof language learningas
both an educational and a political issue. Language teaching is
inextricablytied to language policy. Viewed froma multicultural
intranational as well as international perspective, diverse
sociopolitical contextsmandate not only a diverse set of language
learning goals, but a diverse set of teaching strategies.Program
design and implementationdepend on negotiationbetween policy


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makers, linguists,researchers,and teachers. And evaluation of
program success requires a similar collaborative effort. The
selection of methods and materialsappropriate to both the goals
and context of teaching begins with an analysis of both learner
needs and stylesof learning.


In thisconnection,the implicationsof CLT forexistingprograms
meritbrief discussion. By definition,CLT puts the focus on the
learner. Learner communicativeneeds provide a frameworkfor
elaboratingprogramgoals in termsof functionalcompetence. This
implies global, qualitative evaluation of learner achievement as
opposed to quantitativeassessmentof discrete linguisticfeatures.
Controversyover appropriatelanguage testingpersists,and manya
curricular innovation has been undone by failure to make
correspondingchanges in evaluation.The attractionformany of a
multiple-choicetest with single rightanswers that a machine can
translateintoa score is undeniable.Qualitativeevaluationof written
and oral expressionis time-consumingand not so straightforward.
Language programsare not alone in thisrespect.U.S. educators,in
at thedominationof curricula
particular,continueto feel frustration
by large-scale,standardized,multiple-choicetests.Teachers, under
pressureto make theirstudentsdo well on such tests,oftendevote
valuable class timeto teachingtest-taking skills,drillingstudentson
multiple-choice items about writing,for example, rather than
allowing them practice in writing.Currenteffortsat educational
reforminclude the recommendationto returnto essay writingand
other more holisticassessmentsof learnerability.Some programs
have initiatedportfolioassessment,the collectionand evaluationof
learner poems, reports,stories,and other projects,in an effortto
betterrepresentand encourage learnerachievement.
Depending upon theirown preparationand experience,teachers
themselvesdifferin theirreactionsto CLT. Some feel understand-
able frustrationat the seeming ambiguity in discussions of
communicativeability.Negotiationof meaning is well and good,
but this view of language behavior lacks precision and does not
provide a universal scale for assessment of individual learners.
Abilityis viewed, rather,as variable and highlydependent upon
contextand purpose. Other teacherswelcome the opportunityto
select and/or develop theirown materials,providinglearnerswith
a range of communicativetasks.And theyare comfortablerelying
on more global, integrativejudgmentsof learnerprogress.


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An additional source of frustrationforsome teachersare second
language acquisitionresearchfindingsthatshow theroute,ifnotthe
rate,of language acquisitionto be largelyunaffectedby classroom
instruction.(For a review of second language acquisitionresearch,
see Larsen-Freemanin this issue of the TESOL Quarterly.)First
language cross-linguisticstudies of developmental universals
initiated in the 1970s were soon followed by second language
studies. Acquisition, assessed on the basis of expression in
unrehearsed, oral communicative contexts seemed to follow a
similar morphosyntacticsequence regardless of learner age or
contextof learning.Structuralpracticeof the "skillgetting"variety
was seen to have littleinfluenceon selfexpression,or "skillusing."
Although they served to bear out the informalobservationsof
teachers,namely thattextbookpresentationand drilldo not insure
learner use of these same structuresin their own spontaneous
expression, the findings were nonetheless disconcerting.They
contradictedboth grammar-translation and audiolingual precepts
that placed the burden of acquisition on teacher explanation of
grammar and controlled practice with insistence on learner
accuracy. They were furtherat odds with textbooksthatpromise
"mastery" of "basic" French, English, Spanish, etc. Teacher
rejectionof researchfindings,renewed insistenceon standardized
tests, and even exclusive reliance on the learners' native or first
language, where possible, to be surethey"get the grammar,"have
been in some cases reactions to the frustrationof teaching for
Moreover,thelanguage acquisitionresearchparadigmitself,with
its emphasis on sentence-levelgrammaticalfeatures,has served to
bolster a structuralfocus, obscuringpragmaticand sociolinguistic
issues in language acquisition. In her discussionof the contextsof
competence, Berns (1990) stresses that the definition of a
communicativecompetence appropriate for learnersrequires an
understandingof the sociocultural contexts of language use. In
addition, the selection of a methodology appropriate to the
attainmentof communicativecompetence requiresan understand-
ing of sociocultural differencesin styles of learning. Curricular
innovationis best advanced by the developmentof local materials
which,in turn,restson the involvementof classroomteachers.
Numerous such regional projects have been documented. The
English language activitytypes elaborated by Candlin and others
foruse in Germanclassrooms(Candlin, 1978) are one example. The
modular, thematic French units developed for use in Ontario,
Canada public schools offer another example; they began with
surveysof learnersand involved teachersat all stages of revision


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(Ullmann, 1987). The task types elaborated by Prabhu for use in
teaching English in Bangalore, India (Prabhu, 1987) are a similar
example. The nationalmodernlanguagecurriculumrevisionproject
in Finland (Takala, 1984), and the revision of the English for
academic purposes course offeringsin the Universityof Michigan
English Language Institute,to bettermeet the needs of a growing
population of internationalfacultyand students(Morley,in press),
are but two of many other examples of successful substantive
reformsthatinvolved theoristsand practitionersworkingtogether.
These are illustrationsnot of language forspecific purposes in the
traditional sense of the term, but, rather, of communicative
approaches that have resulted fromtask-related,project-centered
collaboration between researchers,administrators,teachers, and
curriculumdevelopers. The benefitshave been two-fold:Teams of
researchersand practitionerswith expertisein both linguisticsand
language teaching have made contributionsto both language
teachingand language acquisitionresearch.


Discussions of CLT not infrequentlylead to questions of
grammaticalor formalaccuracy. The perceived displacement of
attentionto morphosyntactic featuresin learnerexpressionin favor
of a focus on meaninghas led in some cases to the impressionthat
grammaris not important,or thatproponentsof CLT favorlearner
While involvementin communicativeeventsis seen as centralto
language development, this involvement necessarily requires
attentionto form.Communicationcannot take place in the absence
of structure,or grammar,a set of shared assumptionsabout how
language works, along with a willingness of participants to
cooperate in the negotiation of meaning. In their carefully
researched and widely cited paper proposing components of
communicative competence, Canale and Swain (1980) did not
suggest that grammar was unimportant.They sought rather to
situate grammaticalcompetence withina more broadly defined
communicativecompetence. Similarly,thefindingsof theSavignon
(1972) study did not suggestthat teachersforsakethe teachingof
grammar.Rather,thereplacementof language laboratorystructure
drillswithmeaning-focusedself-expression was foundto be a more
effectiveway to develop communicative ability with no loss of
morphosyntacticaccuracy. And learner performanceon tests of
discretemorphosyntactic featureswas not a good predictorof their
performanceon a seriesof integrativecommunicativetasks.


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The natureof the contributionto language developmentof both
form-focusedand meaning-focusedclassroom activityremains a
question in ongoing research. The optimumcombinationof these
activitiesin any given instructionalsettingdepends no doubt on
learner age, nature and length of instructional sequence,
opportunitiesfor language contact outside the classroom,teacher
preparation,and otherfactors.However, for the development of
communicativeability,research findingsoverwhelminglysupport
the integrationof form-focusedexercises with meaning-focused
experience.Grammaris important;and learnersseem to focusbest
on grammar when it relates to their communicativeneeds and
experiences.Nor should explicitattentionto formbe perceived as
limited to sentence-level morphosyntactic features. Broader
features of discourse, sociolinguisticrules of appropriacy, and
communicationstrategiesthemselvesmay be included. (For further
discussionand illustration,
see Savignon,1983).
In an effortto representa distinctionbetween meaningand form
in oral expression,some methodologistshave made use of theterms
fluencyand accuracy. This dichotomyis misleading,however,on at
least two counts.It suggeststhattheformof a message is somehow
unrelatedto its meaning,and thenimplicitlyproposes an absolute
grammatical norm for learners. Accuracy in this instance is
measured in termsof discretefeaturesof phonology,morphology,
and syntax,and thusfailsto take intoaccount the context-relevant,
collaborativenatureof self-expression. Fluency,on the otherhand,
suggestsspeed or ease of self-expression, which may or may not
enhance communicativeeffectiveness.


Turningnow to promisingavenues of inquiryin the yearsahead,
numerous sociolinguisticissues await attention.Variation in the
speech communityand its relationshipto language change are
central to sociolinguisticinquiry. Sociolinguisticperspectives on
variabilityand change highlightthe folly of describing native-
speaker competence, let alone nonnative-speakercompetence, in
termsof "mastery"or "command" ofa system.All language systems
show instabilityand variation.Learnerlanguage systemsshow even
greaterinstabilityand variabilityin termsof both the amountand
rate of change. Sociolinguistic concerns with identity and
accommodation help to explain the constructionby bilingualsof a
"variationspace" whichis different fromthatof a nativespeaker.It
may include retentionof any number of featuresof a previously
acquired systemof phonology,syntax,discourse,communication


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strategies,and so on. The phenomenon may be individual or, in
those settingswhere thereis a communityof learners,general.
In response to a homework question which asked whether
retentionof a native accent was an example of communicative
competence, a nativeFrench speaker wrote "Yes. A friendof mine
who has been in the U.S. now forseveralyears says he has kept his
French accent because he noticed that women like it." His
observationparallels those of sociolinguistswho have documented
the role of noncognitivefactorssuch as motivationand self-identity
in firstlanguage acquisition (e.g., Hymes, 1971). Self-identityis
centralto differential competence and the heterogeneityof speech
communities.To assume that sheer quantityof exposure shapes
children's speech is simplistic.Identificationand motivationare
what matter. Similarly,in second language acquisition, learner
identification and motivation interact with opportunities and
contexts of language use to influence the development of
competence. In classrooms, which, as social contexts, provide
settings for symbolic variation, nonnative-likefeatures may be
maintainedto exhibit"learner"status(Preston,1989).
Sociolinguisticperspectiveshave been importantin understand-
ing the implicationsof norm,appropriacy,and variabilityforCLT
and continueto suggestavenues of inquiryforfurtherresearchand
materials development. Use of authentic language data has
underscoredthe importanceof context-setting,roles,genre,etc.-
in interpretingthe meaning of a text. A range of both oral and
writtentextsin contextprovides learnerswitha varietyof language
experiences,experiencestheyneed to constructtheirown "variation
space," to make determinationsof appropriacy in their own
expressionof meaning.Competentin thisinstanceis notnecessarily
synonymouswith native-like.Negotiation in CLT highlightsthe
need for cross-linguistic, that is, cross-cultural,awareness on the
part of all involved. Better understandingof the strategiesused in
the negotiation of meaning offers a potential for improving
classroompracticeof the needed skills.
Alongwithothersociolinguisticissuesin language acquisition,the
classroom itselfas a social contextforlearninghas been neglected.
Classroom language learningwas thefocus of a numberof research
studies in the 1960s and early 1970s (e.g., Scherer & Wertheimer,
1964; Savignon,1972; Smith,1970). However, language classrooms
were not a major interestof the second language acquisition(SLA)
research that rapidly gathered momentum in the years that
followed. The fullrange of variablespresentin educationalsettings
was an obvious deterrent.Other difficultiesincluded the lack of
well-definedclassroom processes to serve as variables and lack of


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agreement as to what constitutedlearningsuccess. Confusion of
in manyof the textbookexercisesand language testprototypesthat
directlyor indirectlyshaped curricula.Not surprisingly, researchers
eager to establish SLA as a worthyfield of inquiryturnedtheir
attentionto more narrow,quantitativestudiesof the acquisitionof
selected morphosyntactic features.
Withthe realizationthatSLA researchfindingsto date, while of
value, do not begin to address the larger issues of language
development,attentiononce again has turnedto theclassroom.The
year 1988 alone saw the publication of at least five books on the
topic of classroom language learning(Allwright,1988; Chaudron,
1988; Ellis, 1988; Peck, 1988; van Lier, 1988). A recent initiative,
supportive of CLT, is the analysis of activity or task-based
curricula. Researchers are looking at classroom language events,
breaking them down into units of analysis with a view to
establishinga typologyof tasks thatteachersfrequentlyuse. Since
tasks determine the opportunities for language use, for the
interpretation,expression, and negotiation of meaning, their
systematicdescriptionconstitutesthe firststep in establishinga
relationshipbetween task and learningoutcomes. No researcher
today would dispute thatlangauge learningresultsfromparticipa-
tion in communicativeevents. Despite any claims to the contrary,
however,the natureof thislearningremainsundefined.
An earlystudyof foreignlanguage teachertalkwas conductedby
Guthrie(1984) who foundpersistentform/meaning focusconfusion
even when teachersfelttheywere providingan optimalclassroom
acquisition environmentby speaking only in the language being
learned. Transcriptionsof teacher/learnerdialogue revealed the
unnaturalness, thatis, incoherence,of much of thediscourse.There
have been similarreportswithrespectto ESL teachingin both the
United Statesand Britain.A 1987 studyby Nunan suggeststhateven
when teachersare committedto the concept of a communicative
approach, opportunitiesfor genuine communicative interaction
may be rare. Even when all lessons ostensiblyfocus on functional
aspects of language use, patternsof classroom interactionprovide
littlegenuine communicationbetween teacher and learneror, for
thatmatter,between learnerand learner.
A studyby Kinginger(1990; see also Kinginger& Savignon,1991)
has examined the nature of learner/learner talk associated with a
variety of task types involving small-group or pair work.
Conversationsrepresentingfourdistincttask types were observed
in two differentcollege-level French programs. The conversa-
tions were examined with respect to (a) turn-takingand topic


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management,withgeneralizationsregardingthe degree of learner
participation and initiative, and (b) negotiation and repair
strategies. Data showed that when learners are constrained by
formal considerations or provided with a structure-embedded
"text"as a basis for"conversation,"theirtalkhad manyof the same
characteristics as form-focused teacher talk. Analyses of the
interactions resulting from other, meaning-focused task types
showed themto differwithrespect to both quality and quantityof
language use. They included examples of ways in which
communicativeexperiencecan be provided in classroom'settings.
Classroom teachertalk and opportunitiesfor learnerself-expres-
sion are but two featuresof classroomlearning.Broader issues of
teacherunderstanding, preparation,and practiceawait exploration.
Contextsof teachingvarywidely. Communityattitudes,use and/or
perceived usefulnessof the language being taught,and differences
and similaritieswith respect to previouslylearned languages are
among the more obvious variables.In theserespects,the experience
of a teacherof Englishin San Juanclearlydiffersfromthatof a teach-
er in Osaka, Cairo, or Bonn. And these experiencesdiffer,in turn,
fromthoseof teachersin Sydney,Houston,or Bath.Butwhileconsid-
erable attentionhas been directedto linguistic
teachingas well as to comparative/contrastive analysesof languages
themselves,surprisingly littlesystematicinquiryhas been conducted
into the instructional perceptions and practices of teachers
themselves.In our effortsto improve language teaching,we have
A studyof Kleinsasser(1989; see also Kleinsasser& Savignon,in
press), based on classroom observationsand conversationswith
foreignlanguage teachersin U.S. secondaryschools,identifiedtwo
distincttechnical cultures in operation. One technical culture is
uncertainand routine.Teachers are uncertainabout theirabilityto
promote learning,but routine or predictable in theirday-to-day
approach to teaching.The othercultureis certainand nonroutine.
Teachers are confidentthatlearnerswill learn and tend to support
varietyand innovationin theirinstructionalpractice. Among the
other characteristicsof certain/nonroutine culturesare discussion
and collaborationamong teachers.In contrast,heavyrelianceon the
textbookand nonexistentor infrequentopportunitiesforspontane-
ous, communicativelanguage interactionare classroomcharacteris-
tics of those teachers with an uncertain and routine culture.
Discussions with colleagues related to instructionalmatters are
infrequentor nonexistent.
The broader cultural environment is a potential factor in
influencingthe technical culture of an individual school or other


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instructionalsetting.Replication of the Kleinsasserstudyin other
contexts,not only on differentlevels of instructionwithinthe U.S.
but around the world, would serve to clarifyand perhaps expand
the range of factorsthat merit inclusion.As new approaches to
language teachingare elaborated, explorationof the technicalcul-
turesoperatingin instructionalsettings,of teachers'perceptionsof
what theydo and why theydo it,holds promise forunderstanding
the frequentlynoted discrepanciesbetween theoreticalunderstand-
ing of second/foreignlanguage acquisitionand classroompractice.
Innovationin teachingmethodsand materialsis mostlikelyto occur
in culturesthatare certainand nonroutine.

We have much yet to learn about the nature of language and
language development.The quest forprinciplesand parametershas
only just begun. Yet few would deny thatour understandingof the
collaborative natureof meaning makingis farrichertoday than it
was a quarter of a centuryago. The study of language, that is,
linguistics,continuesto broaden. As questionsof situatedlanguage
use continue to be raised, specially trained ethnographershave
come to replace the native speakerswho were once the authorities
on how language worked. And applied linguisticshas emergedas a
youngand dynamicfieldof inquiry.
Drawing on currentunderstandingof language use as social
behavior, purposeful, and always in context, proponents of
communicative language teaching offera view of the language
learneras a partnerin learning;theyencouragelearnerparticipation
in communicative events and self-assessmentof progress. In
keeping with second language acquisition theory,methodologists
advise learnersto take communicativerisks and to focus on the
development of learningstrategies.A traditionof abstractionin
linguisticinquiryhas contributedto theneglectof social contextin
both language teaching and language acquisition research,
hindering understanding and acceptance of communicative
competence as a goal forlearners.When language use is viewed as
social behavior,learneridentityand motivationare seen to interact
withlanguage status,use, and contextsof learningto influencethe
development of competence. The descriptionand explanationof
the differentialcompetence thatinvariablyresultsmustinclude an
account of thisinteraction.
Valued as are the reasoned proposals of linguists,applied
linguists,and second/foreignlanguage teaching methodologists,
however, explorationof the potentialof communicativelanguage


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teaching cannot proceed without the involvementof classroom
teachers.The constraintsof language classroomsare real. Tradition,
learner attitudes,teacher preparation and expectations,and the
instructionalenvironmentin general all contributeto and support
teachers' technical cultures. Recommendations for methods and
materialsmust take into account this reality.For them to do so,
researchers,curriculumdevelopers,and teacherswill have to work
together. Teamwork between linguists, methodologists and
classroom teachers offersthe best hope for the elaboration and
diffusionof language teaching methods and materialsthat work,
that encourage and support learnersin the development of their
In this connection,the full potentialof content-basedand task-
based curricula remains to be exploited. Through the variety of
language activities that they can offer,content-basedand task-
based programsare ideally suited to a focus on communication,to
the development of needed language skillsthroughthe interpreta-
tion, expression, and negotiation of meaning. As interest in
communicative language teaching grows, more traditional
programswill undoubtedlyfindways to involve both learnersand
teachers in the definitionof goals and the selection of meaning-
focused interpretiveand expressivetasks designed to meet those
goals. Focus on formwill thenbe related to these communicative
The opportunityforprofessionalgrowthhas never been greater.
Current demand around the world for quality programs and
language professionalsto design and staffthem offersunprece-
dented opportunitiesfor research initiatives.Responding to this
demand will require teamwork, a sharing of perspectives and
insights.Researchersneed to look to teachersto defineresearchable
questions.Teachers,in turn,need to participatein theinterpretation
of findingsfor materialsand classroom practice. Elaboration of
appropriate methods and materials for a particular language
teaching program will result only from the cooperation of all



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SandraJ. Savignonis Professorof Frenchand of Englishas an International
Languageat the Universityof Illinoisat Urbana-Champaign, whereshe is also
director doctoralprogram inSecondLanguageAcquisition
and Teacher Education(SLATE). She is the foundingeditorof the Addison-
WesleySecond LanguageProfessional Libraryand has servedon the editorial
boards of Studiesin Second LanguageAcquisitionand the CanadianModern
LanguageReview.Sheiscurrently ElectoftheAmerican
AssociationforAppliedLinguistics. Dr. Savignonlecturesfrequently and has
offeredseminarsforlanguageteachersthroughout the U.S., in Canada, South
America,Europe,and Asia.She was Distinguished Professorat the1990TESOL

Allwright,D. (1988). Observation in the language classroom. London:
Berns, M. S. (1990). Contexts of competence: Social and cultural
considerationsin communicativelanguageteaching.New York:Plenum.
Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative
approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied
Linguistics;1, 1-47.
Candlin, C. (1978). Teaching of English: Principles and an exercise
typology.London: Langenscheidt-Longman.
Chaudron, C. (1988). Second language classrooms:Research on teaching
and learning.New York:Cambridge UniversityPress.
Coulombe, R., Barr6,J.,Fostle, C., Poulin,N., & Savignon,S. (1974). Voix
et visages de la France: Level 1. Chicago: Rand-McNally.
Ellis, R. 1988. Classroom second language development. New York:
Guthrie,E. (1984). Intake,communication,and second language teaching.
In S. J. Savignon & M. S. Berns (Eds.), Initiativesin communicative
language teaching(pp. 35-54). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Habermas, J. (1970). Toward a theoryof communicativecompetence.
Inquiry,13, 360-375.
Habermas, J. (1971). VorbereitendeBemerkungenzu einer Theorie der
Kommunikative Kompetenz (pp. 101-141). In N. Lishman (Ed.),
Theorie der Gesellschaftoder Sozialtechnologie.Frankfurt:Suhrkamp.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as social semiotic: The social
interpretationof language and meaning. Baltimore: UniversityPark
Holec, H. (1979). Autonomyand foreignlanguage learning.Strasbourg:
Council of Europe.
Hymes,D. (1971). Competence and performancein linguistictheory.In R.
Huxley & E. Ingram(Eds.), Language acquisition:Models and methods.
London: Academic Press.


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Kinginger,C. (1990). Task variation and classroom learner discourse.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation,Universityof Illinois at Urbana-
Kinginger,C. & Savignon,S. J.(1991). Four conversations:Task variation
and learnerdiscourse.In C. Faltis & M. McGroarty(Eds.), Language in
school and society: Policy and pedagogy (pp. 85-106). New York:
Mouton de Gruyter.
Kleinsasser,R. (1989). Foreign language teaching:A tale of two technical
cultures. Unpublished doctoral dissertation,Universityof Illinois at
Kleinsasser, R., & Savignon, S. J. (in press). Linguistics, language
pedagogy, and teachers' technical cultures. In J. E. Alatis (Ed.),
Georgetown UniversityRound Table on Languages and Linguistics
1991. Washington,DC: GeorgetownUniversityPress.
Morley,J. (in press). Perspectiveson English for academic purposes. In
J.E. Alatis (Ed.), Georgetown UniversityRound Table on Languages
and Linguistics1991. Washington,DC: GeorgetownUniversityPress.
Nunan, D. (1987). Communicative language teaching: Making it work.
ELT Journal,41(2), 136-145.
Paulston, C. B. (1974). Linguistic and communicative competence.
TESOL Quarterly,8(2), 347-362.
Peck, A. (1988). Language teachersat work.New York: PrenticeHall.
Preston,D. R. (1989). Sociolinguisticsand second language acquisition.
Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Prabhu, N. S. (1987). Second language pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford
Savignon, S. J. (1972). Communicative competence: An experimentin
foreign language teaching. Philadelphia: Center for Curriculum
Savignon,S. J.(1974). Teaching forcommunication.In R. Coulombe, R. J.
BarrY,C. Fostle, N. Poulin,& S. Savignon,Voix et visages de la France:
Level I (Teachers' Guide). Chicago: Rand McNally. (Reprinted in
English Teaching Forum,1978, 16[2], 2-5,9)
Savignon, S. J. (1983). Communicative competence: Theory and
classroompractice.Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Scherer,G., & Wertheimer,M. (1964). A psycholinguisticexperimentin
foreignlanguage teaching.New York: McGraw-Hill.
Smith, P. D. (1970). A comparison of the cognitive and audiolingual
approaches to foreignlanguage instruction:The Pennsylvaniaforeign
language project. Philadelphia:Center forCurriculumDevelopment.
Takala, S. (1984). Contextual considerationsin communicativelanguage
teaching. In S. J. Savignon & M. S. Berns (Eds.), Initiatives in
communicativelanguage teaching (pp. 23-34). Reading, MA: Addison-
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van Ek, J.,(Ed.). (1975). Systemsdevelopmentin adult language learning:
The threshold level in a European unit credit system for modern
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van Lier, Leo. (1988). The classroom and the language learner:
Ethnography and second language classroom research. London:


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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1991

Macquarie University

Over thelast25 yearsthecommunicative taskhas emergedas a

significantbuildingblock in the developmentof language
curriculaand also as an elementformotivatingprocess-oriented
second languageacquisitionresearch.This paper reviewsthe
influenceof thecommunicative taskon curriculumdevelopment
and summarizesthe researchbase for task-basedlanguage
teaching.In the finalpart of the paper,an agenda forfuture
researchis setout.

Over the last 25 years,the communicativetaskhas evolved as an

and evaluation. In task-based language teaching,syllabus content
and instructionalprocesses are selected with reference to the
communicative tasks which learners will (either actually or
potentially)need to engage in outsidethe classroom and also with
referenceto theoreticaland empiricalinsightsintothose social and
psycholinguisticprocesses which facilitatelanguage acquisition.
This approach to language teaching is characterized by the
1. An emphasis on learningto communicatethroughinteractionin
the targetlanguage
2. The introductionof authentictextsintothe learningsituation
3. The provisionof opportunitiesforlearnersto focus,not only on
language, but also on thelearningprocessitself
4. An enhancementof the learner'sown personal experiences as
importantcontributing elementsto classroomlearning
5. An attemptto link classroom language learningwith language
Task-based language teachinghas been an importantadditionto
the conceptual and empiricalrepertoireof the second and foreign


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language teacherin the eighties,havinginfluencedsyllabusdesign,
materialsdevelopment,and language teachingmethodology.In this
paper, I shall review the development of task-based language
teaching (TBLT). In the firstpart of the paper, I shall provide an
account of thetheoreticaland empiricalbasis forTBLT. I shall then
discuss the influence of TBLT on curriculumdevelopment and
classroompractice.In thefinalpartofthepaper, I indicatetheways
in which I believe thatthe researchagenda should be extended in
the nineties.


Like many other innovations,task-based teaching entered the
language fieldfromtheeducationalmainstream.Studiesof teachers
at work demonstrated that, while teacher education programs
taught trainees to plan, implement,and evaluate theirprograms
according to the "rational"model whichbegins withobjectivesand
moves throughtasksto evaluation(Tyler,1949), therealitywas that
once theybegan practicing,teacherstended to focus on pedagogic
tasks (Shavelson & Stern, 1981). This insightfrom research into
teachers' professional planning and decision-making processes
enhanced the statusof taskas a curriculumplanningtool.
Task-based learningis also linked to mainstreameducationby its
close relationshipwith experientiallearning. This relationshipis
evidentin the followingdescriptionof experientiallearning:
In experientiallearning,immediatepersonalexperienceis seen as the
focal pointforlearning,giving"life,texture, and subjectivepersonal
meaningtoabstractconceptsand at thesametimeproviding a concrete,
publiclysharedreference pointfortesting theimplicationsand validity
of ideas createdduringthelearningprocess,"as pointedoutby David
Kolb (1984:21). Butexperiencealso needsto be processedconsciously
by reflectingon it.Learningis thusseenas a cyclicalprocessintegrating
immediateexperience, abstract
reflection, conceptualization andaction.
To date, definitionsof tasks have been rather programmatic.
Long (1985a) suggeststhat a task is nothingmore or less than the
thingspeople do in everyday life. He cites as examples buying
shoes, making reservations, finding destinations, and writing
cheques. The Longman Dictionaryof Applied Linguisticsprovides
a more pedagogically oriented characterization.Here, it is sug-
gested thata task is
anyactivityor actionwhichis carriedoutas theresultof processing or
understanding language(i.e., as a response).For example,drawinga


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map whilelisteningto a tape,listeningtoan instruction
and performing
a command,may be referred to as tasks.(Richards,Platt,& Weber,
1985,p. 289)
The value of tasks,according to the authors,is thattheyprovide a
purpose fortheactivitywhichgoes beyond thepracticeof language
foritsown sake.
A similarcharacterizationis offeredby Breen (1987) who sug-
geststhata task is
any structured languagelearningendeavourwhichhas a particular
objective,appropriatecontent,a specifiedworkingprocedure,and a
rangeof outcomesforthosewho undertake thetask.'Task'is therefore
assumedtorefertoa rangeofworkplans whichhavetheoverallpurpose
of facilitating
languagelearning-from the simpleand briefexercise
type,to morecomplexand lengthyactivities suchas groupproblem-
solvingor simulationsand decisionmaking.(p. 23)
Elsewhere, I have suggestedthattaskscan be conceptualized in
termsof the curriculargoals theyare intendedto serve, the input
data which forms the point of departure for the task, and the
activities or procedures which the learners undertake in the
completionof the task. Two importantadditionalelementsare the
roles forteachersand learnersimplicitin the task,and the settings
and conditions under which the task takes place (Nunan, 1989).
Later in thispaper, I shall use these elementsof goals, inputdata,
activities/procedures, roles,and settingsas rubricsforsynthesizing
the considerable amount of research activitywhich provides an
empiricalbasis fortask-basedlanguage teachingand learning.

Before the development of communicativeapproaches to lan-
guage teaching,tasksand exerciseswere selected as a second order
activity,afterthe specificationof the morphosyntactic, phonologi-
cal, and lexical elementsto be taught.Traditionally,curriculumde-
signersand materialswriterstook as theirpoint of departurethe
question,What are thegrammatical,phonological,and lexical items
to be taught?The specificationof theseitemsset theparametersfor
the selection of classroom activities.In other words, selection of
classroom activitieswas driven by curriculumgoals specified in
phonological, morphosyntactic, and lexical terms.(See, for exam-
ple, the analysisof contentselectionand sequencing in a grammar-
based syllabusprovided by McDonough, 1981,p. 21.)
In a task-basedcurriculum,the decision-makingprocess is quite
different.There are, in fact, two differentroutes which the


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curriculumdeveloper/materialswritercan take in initiatingthe
design process. The firstof theseis based on what I have called the
rehearsalrationale.Here the question initiatingthe design process
is, What is it thatlearnerspotentiallyor actuallyneed to do withthe
targetlanguage? The second is what I have called the psycholin-
guistic rationale. Here the initiatingquestion is, What are the
psycholinguisticmechanismsunderlyingsecond language acquisi-
tion, and how can these be activated in the classroom? The
linguisticelementsto be focused on in the classroomare selected as
a second order activity.
Ideally, task selectionshould occur withreferenceboth to target
task rationale and psycholinguisticprinciples. The way that this
mightbe achieved is illustratedin theprocedure set out in Figure 1,
adapted froma recentlypublished task-basedcoursebook (Nunan
& Lockwood, 1991). The pedagogic task is selected withreference
to the real-world or target task of "giving informationin a job
interview." Learners are given a model of the target language
behaviour,as well as specificpracticein manipulatingkeylanguage
items. The actual pedagogic task, a simulation,is also consistent
with research on the facilitativeeffectsof classroom interaction
(researchon language acquisitionis reviewed in the nextsection).

StepsInvolvedin the Developmentofa PedagogicTask

Procedure Example Rationale

1. Identifytargettask Giving personal informationin To give learners the opportu-

a job interview nityto develop language skills
relevant to their real world
2. Provide model Students listen to and extract To provide learnersthe oppor-
key informationfrom authen- tunityto listen to and analyse
tic/simulatedinterview ways in which native speakers
or users of the targetlanguage
carryout the targettask
3. Identifyenabling Manipulation drill to practice To provide learners with ex-
skill wh-questionswith do-insertion plicit instructionand guided
practice in those grammatical
elements needed to perform
the targettask
4. Devise pedagogic Interviewsimulationusingrole To provide learnersthe oppor-
task cards tunityto mobilize theiremerg-
ing language skills through


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The growing importance of the pedagogic task as a central
element within the curriculum has called into question the
conventionaldistinctionbetween syllabusdesignand methodology.
Traditionally,syllabus design is concerned with the selection and
grading of content, while methodology is concerned with the
selectionand sequencing of tasks,exercises,and relatedclassroom
activities. Metaphoricallyspeaking, syllabus design is concerned
with the destination,while methodology is concerned with the
route.Withthe developmentof task-basedapproaches to language
learning and teaching, this distinctionhas become difficultto
sustain.Breen (1984) has neatlycapturedthischange of focusin the
[TBLT would] prioritizethe routeitself;a focusingupon the means
towardsthelearningof a new language.Here thedesignerwouldgive
priorityto the changingprocessof learningand the potentialof the
classroom-tothepsychological and socialresourcesappliedto a new
language by learnersin the classroom context. . . . a greaterconcern
withcapacityforcommunication thanrepertoire
rather of communica-
tion,withtheactivity oflearninga languageviewedas importantas the
languageitself, andwitha focusuponmeansratherthanpredetermined
ofprocessovercontent.(pp. 52-53)
objectives,all indicatepriority
Conceptually, then, task-based language teaching has been
influencedby developmentsin mainstreameducation as well as by
major conceptual shiftsin our understandingof the nature of
language and language learning.It has also been enhanced by a
researchagenda whichhas provided an empiricalbasis upon which
curriculumdesigners,materialswriters,and classroompractitioners
can draw. The availabilityof empiricaldata on taskshas enhanced
the status of task-based language teaching at a time when the
various "methods" approaches to language teaching have come
under increasingcriticismforlacking an empiricalbasis. (See, for
example, Long, 1990; Richards, 1990). In the next section,I shall
provide a selectivereview of thisresearch.

One of the strengthsof task-based language teachingis thatthe
conceptual basis is supportedby a strongempiricaltradition.This
itfrommostmethodsapproachesto pedagogy,which
are relativelydata-free.I have already suggestedthattaskscan be
conceptualized in termsof the key elementsof goals, input data,
activities/procedures,roles, and settings.This conceptual scheme
provides a convenient means of synthesising
the researchon tasks.


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Task goals enable the program planner and materialswriterto
provide explicitlinksbetween the taskand the broader curriculum
it is designed to serve. Without clearly articulated sets of goal
statements,there is a risk that task-based teaching programswill
lack coherence as Widdowson (1987), among others,has pointed
out. Goals are generallyreferencedagainstthesortsof thingswhich
learners want to do with the language outside the classroom.
Typical goal statementsinclude:
1. To develop the skillsnecessaryto take partin academic study
2. To obtain sufficientoral and writtenskillsto obtain a promotion
fromunskilledworkerto site supervisor
3. To communicatesociallyin the targetlanguage
4. To develop the survival skills necessary to obtain goods and
5. To be able to read the literatureof the targetculture
Despite its importance for coherent curriculumdevelopment,
compared to otherareas, researchon taskgoals is difficultto findin
the literature.One of the few available studies is thatby Brindley
(1984) who investigatedthe needs analysis, goal and objective
settingpractices of teachersof ESL to adults, and the reactionof
learners to these practices. Based on an extensive series of
interviews,Brindleyfound thatprogramsin which the goals were
explicitand reflectedthe communicativeneeds of the learnershad
greater face validity than those in which the goals were either
unstated,inexplicit,or which did not reflectlearners'goals. While
therewas no directevidence thatprogramswith explicit,relevant
goals resulted in more effective learning outcomes, it is not
unreasonable to expect thatthiswould be the case, given what we
know about the relationshipbetween affective/attitudinal factors
and learningoutcomes.
Most tasks take as theirpoint of departureinput data of some
sort.Such data may be linguistic(thatis, readingand listeningtexts
of various sorts) or nonlinguistic(for example, diagrams, photo-
graphs, picture sequences). This area is considerably better re-
searched thanthatof goals. A key questionunderlyingresearchon
inputtasksis, What factorsare implicatedin the difficulty of aural
and writtentexts?
In a large-scale investigationof the listeningcomprehensionof
secondary students,Brown and Yule (1983) found thattwo factors
significantlyaffectedthedifficulty oflisteningtexts.The firstfactor
related to the number of elements in the text and the ease and
difficultyof distinguishing between them. The second significant


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factorwas the texttype. All otherthingsbeing equal, descriptions
were easier than instructions,which were easier than stories.
Argumentsor opinion-expressing textscontainingabstractconcepts
and relationshipswere the most difficult.Follow-up researchcited
in Andersonand Lynch (1988) identifieda numberof otherfactors
includingthe following:
1. The way the informationis organized (narrativetexts in which
the order of events in the textsmirrorsthe order in which the
events actually occurred in real life are easier to comprehend
than narratives in which the events are presented out of
2. The familiarityof the topic
3. The explicitnessand sufficiencyof the information
4. The type of referringexpressions(for young children,pronom-
inal referentsare more difficultto comprehend than full noun
phrase referents)
5. Text type
In the area of reading comprehension,Nunan (1984) found that
similarelementswere implicatedin thedifficulty of school textsfor
secondary level students.Nunan looked, among other things,at the
difficulty of different typesof textualrelationshipsas well as at the
effectof contentfamiliarity. He foundthatlogical relationshipsof
the type marked by conjunctionswere more difficultthanreferen-
tial and lexical relationships.He also found thatcontentfamiliarity
was more significantthan grammaticalcomplexityin determining
the difficulty of readingtexts.
The bulk of task-basedresearchhas focused on the activitiesor
procedures which learnerscarryout in relationto the input data.
The key questionherehas been, Whattasksseem to be mosthelpful
in facilitatingsecond language acquisition?
In the first of a series of investigationsinto learner-learner
interaction,Long (1981) found that two-way tasks (in which all
students in a group discussion had unique informationto con-
tribute) stimulatedsignificantlymore modified interactionsthan
one-waytasks(thatis, in whichone memberof thegrouppossessed
all the relevantinformation).Similarly,Doughty and Pica (1986)
found that required information-exchange tasks generated
significantlymore modified interactionthan tasks in which the
exchange of informationwas optional. (Modified interactionsare
thoseinstancesin which speakersmodifytheirlanguage in orderto
assurethattheyhave been correctlyunderstood;theyresultfroman
indicationof noncomprehension, usuallyon the partof a listener.)


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These investigationsof modified interactionwere theoretically
motivatedby Krashen's(1981, 1982) hypothesisthatcomprehensi-
ble input was a necessary and sufficientcondition for second
language acquisition-in otherwords,thatacquisitionwould occur
when learnersunderstood messages in the targetlanguage. Long
(1985b) advanced the followingargumentin favor of tasks which
promote conversationaladjustmentsor interactionalmodifications
on the part of the learnerstakingpartin the task:
Step 1: Showthat(a) linguistic/conversationaladjustmentspromote(b)
comprehensible input.
Step 2: Showthat(b) comprehensible inputpromotes(c) acquisition.
Step 3: Deduce that (a) linguistic/conversational
(c) acquisition. Satisfactoryevidpenceof the a - b - c
relationships would allow the linguisticenvironment to be
positedas an indirect causalvariableinSLA. (The relationship
wouldbe indirectbecauseof theintervening "comprehension"
variable.)(p. 378)
In the last few years the comprehensibleinput hypothesishas
been criticisedon theoreticaland empiricalgrounds.For example,
Swain (1985) demonstratedthatimmersionprogramsin Canada, in
whichlearnersreceived huge amountsof comprehensibleinputdid
not lead to the sort of native-likefacilityin the targetlanguage
predicted by the inputhypothesis.She proposed thatin additionto
comprehensibleinput,learnersneed opportunitiesthatrequirethat
theirown speech be comprehensiblebecause it is onlythroughsuch
opportunitiesthat learnersare pushed to mobilize theiremerging
grammaticalcompetence. (Such mobilizationis preciselywhat the
tasks suggestedby Long, 1985b; Doughty & Pica, 1986; and others
manage to achieve. In otherwords, theirresearchmay be justified
on groundsotherthanthatproposed by the comprehensibleinput
More recently,attentionhas focused on the questionof the types
of language and discourse patternsstimulatedby differenttask
types. Berwick (1988, in press) investigatedthe differenttypes of
language stimulatedby transactionaland interpersonaltasks. (A
transactiontask is one in which communicationoccurs principally
to bring about the exchange of goods and services, whereas an
interpersonaltaskis one in which communicationoccurslargelyfor
social purposes.) He found thatthe differentfunctionalpurposes
stimulateddifferentmorphosyntactic realizations.
In a recent study, I investigated the differentinteractional
patternsstimulatedby open and closed tasks. (An open task is one
in which thereis no singlecorrectanswer,while a closed taskis one


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in whichthereis a singlecorrectansweror a restrictednumberof
correctanswers.) It was found that the differenttask types
stimulated verydifferentinteractional
patterns.Thiscan be seenin
the followingextracts.In Task A, the relativelyclosed task,the
studentsare requiredto sort20 vocabularycards intosemantic
fields.In Task B, havingread a texton the topic of habits,the
students arerequiredtohavean open-endeddiscussion on thetopic
ofbad habits.(Bothextracts areadaptedfromNunan,1991.)

Extract fromTaskA
Two students,Hilda and Carlos, are studyingthe following
wordswhichhavebeen typedontopiecesofcardboard.Theirtask
is to groupthewordstogetherina waywhichmakessensetothem.
Thereis silenceforseveralminutesas thestudents
H: Statistic
and diagram-theygo together.
You knowdiagram?
C: Yeah.
H: Diagram and statisticare family. .. but maybe,I think,statistic
and diagram-you thinkwe can put in science? Or maybe...1
C: Science, astronomy,[yeah] and er can be agriculture.
H: Agriculture'snot a science.
C: Yes, it's similar...
H: No. .. . er may be Darwin and science...
C: What'sthe Darwin?
H: Darwin is a man.
C: No, it's one of place in Australia.
H: Yes, but it's a man who discoversomething,yes,I'm sure.
C: OK.
H: And maybe, look, yes, picture,newspaper, magazine, cartoon,
book, illustration
1 Ellipses indicatepauses.


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C: [yeah]. Maybe we can put lazy and Englishtogether.Er Hong
Kong,Thailandtogether.Asian.Er, UnitedStates.Diary withpic-
ture,newspaper and so on. .... Oh, I understand,look, look. Here,
it's onlyadjective-lazy, competent,interesting and comfortable.
Er, whatis it?Ah yes yes. (She beginsto rearrangethecards.)
C: Darwin

Maria, Martha,Sylvia,and Sandy are takingpartin a small-group
discussionon the topic of bad habits.
Maria: My next door neighbour . .. he make eh very noisy, very
noisy[yeah].2 I can'ttellhimbecause he's verygood people.
(The discussioncontinuesforseveralminutes.)
Sylvia: . . . you don't want to say anythingbecause you might get
upset, of course. Me do the same thingbecause I've got
neighbours in my place and always you know do
somethingI don't like it but I don'tlike to say bad because
I thinkmaybe, you,know make himupset or...
Martha: I've got bad neighbourbut I feel embarrass...
Sylvia: . . . to say something of course, like everyone...
Martha: They always come in and see what I'm doing-who's
coming. [no good] [yeah, that's no good] They want to
check everything.If they see I buy somethingfromthe
markettheyexpect me to give themsome. [oh yeah]. [oh
that's not nice] But I . . . it's difficult.
yeah, but sometimeit's difficult...,
Sylvia: It's a difficult,
Martha: They can't understand,I bought them and I gave money
... (laughter) [yeah]
Martha: You know sometime difficultto the people because
sometimeI can't speak the proper,the language, and little
bit hard to give to understand . . . and that's-sometime
feel embarrassthen,I can't say it,you know?
Maria: [turnsto the fifthwoman, who has not yet spoken] Sarah,
you tell [you tellnow]
Sarah: My, er,forexample,my sisterin law she all thetimesnores
in her sleep [oh, yes] And my brothersay, "Oh, I'm sorry,
we mustsleep separate" [separate beds] (laughter).They
did. [good idea] A good idea because he couldn't sleep.
2 Note thatit was not possible to identifyoverlappingspeakers.


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In addition to the fact that the differenttask types stimulated
differentinteractionalpatterns,the research also indicated that
some tasktypesmightbe more appropriatethanothersforlearners
at particularlevels of proficiency.In the above study,it was found
thatwithlower-intermediate to intermediatelearners,therelatively
closed tasks stimulatemore modified interactionthan relatively
more open tasks.This is not to say thatsuch studentsshould engage
in closed tasksto theexclusionof open tasks.The importantthingis
thatprogramplannersand teachersshould select a mix of tasksto
reflectthe pedagogic goals of the curriculum.
Anotherelementconsideredwithintaskdesignis thatof teacher/
learner roles. All pedagogic tasks contain roles for teachers and
learners,and conflictis likelyto occur if thereis a misapprehension
between teachers and learners about their respective roles.
Research related to learnerroles has come up with findingswhich
run counter to the folk wisdom of the classroom. For instance,
Bruton and Samuda (1980) found that learners are capable of
correctingeach othersuccessfully.Additionally,accordingto Porter
(1986), learnersproduce more talk with other learnersthan with
native-speakingpartners,and learners do not learn each other's
errors. Finally, Gass and Varonis (1985) found that there were
advantages, when conducting groupwork,to pairing learners of
differentproficiencylevels as well as from differentlanguage
The final element is that of setting,which refersto the learner
configuration (either teacher-fronted, small group, pair, or
individual),as well as theenvironment(whetherthetasktakesplace
in the classroom or outside the classroom). One of the firsttask
studiesto be carriedout,thatby Long, Adams,and Castanos (1976),
foundthatsmall-grouptaskspromptstudentsto use a greaterrange
of language functionsthan teacher-frontedtasks. In relation to
environment, Montgomery and Eisenstein (1985) found that
resultedin significantly increasedlanguage gains.


Most of theresearchcarriedout duringtheeightiesand described
in the preceding sectionwas drivenby Krashen'sinputhypothesis,
which is based on the belief thatopportunitiesforsecond language
acquisition are maximisedwhen learnersare exposed to language
which is just a little beyond their currentlevel of competence
(Krashen, 1981, 1982). The central research issue here is, What
classroomtasksand patternsof interactionprovide learnerswiththe


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greatestamount of comprehensibleinput?It has been argued that
patterns of interactionin which learners are forced to make
conversationaladjustmentspromoteacquisition.As I have already
pointed out, this view representsan indirect ratherthan direct
relationshipbetween environmentalfactors(for example, types of
instruction)and language acquisition. I also referredto research
which, while questioning the comprehensible input hypothesis,
supportedthe communicativetasksto which it gave rise.
While theresearchreviewed in theprecedingsectionrepresentsa
healthy state of affairs,the scope needs to be developed and
extended both substantivelyand methodologically.In substantive
terms,the researchagenda needs to incorporatea greaterrange of
linguisticand psycholinguistic models. Methodologically,the scope
of the researchneeds to be extendedby the utilizationof a greater
range of researchtools and techniques.In particular,it would be
useful to see the emergence of research which explored the
relationships between contextual factors, interpersonalfactors,
learnerproficiencylevels, and pedagogic tasks.
In order to indicate the ways in which these principlesmight
influencethe shape of futureresearch,I shall brieflyreview two
recentinvestigations whichprovideusefulindicationsof theways in
whichresearchon task-basedlanguage teachingand learningcan be
extended both substantivelyand methodologically.
Berwick (1988; in press) exemplifiesthe advantages of extending
theresearchagenda on tasksby drawingon insightsfroma range of
theoretical models. Of particular interest is his utilization of
functionalgrammars,specifically the systemic-functional model
firstarticulated by Halliday (see, for example, Halliday, 1985;
Halliday & Hasan, 1976; Halliday & Hasan, 1989). This particular
model of language attempts to draw explicit links between the
functionswhich language exists to fulfiland its realizationat the
level of lexicogrammaticalchoice. In his research,Berwick (1988)
explored differencesat the level of lexicogrammarattributableto
differenttask types. In classifyingtasks,he distinguishedbetween
pedagogical and collaborative goals on one hand, and expository
and experientialprocesses on the other. Tasks with pedagogical
goals are concerned with the transferof informationthrough
explicitinstruction,while collaborativetasks"emphasized coopera-
tive, consensual behaviour and exchange of informationabout a
problem or topic which participantsexplore freelyduringthe task
itself"(Berwick,in press). Tasks based on expositoryprocesses are
concerned with theoreticallybased knowledge, whereas experien-
tialprocesses are concernedwithproceduralknowledge (in familiar
terms,the formeris concerned withtheoreticalknowing[knowing


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that], while the latter is concerned with practical knowledge
[knowing how]). Berwick uses these two dimensionsto situate a
range of taskswhichhe used in his study.These are set out in Figure
2. A descriptionof the tasksfollows.
Task COMI: This task, residing at the expositoryend of the
process continuumand the pedagogical end of the goal continuum,
consisted of a lecture about findingstringcharacters in a text
through use of the word-processing program of a personal
computer,not physicallypresentin theexperimentalsetting.
Task COM2: This task shared the pedagogical goal of COM1,
but was more experiential in that it involved a demonstrationof
how to findcharacterstringson the laptop computerwhen it was
physicallypresentin frontof the participants.
Task LEGI: Participantsin thistaskfaced away fromeach other.
One participanthad a small Lego toymade of snap-together plastic
partswhich had to be described so thatthe second participantwas
able to assemble a replica of the toy.
Task LEG2: This task was similarto LEG1, except thatpartici-
pants sat face-to-face.
Task DIS: The finaltaskwas an informaldiscussionof any topic
of common interestto the participants.
The independent variable in Berwick's study was the task.
Dependent variables included a range of discourse features
associated with the negotiation of meaning in interactionand
utilized in many of the task investigationsbased on the input
hypothesis.Variables included clarificationrequests, comprehen-
sion checks, confirmationchecks, definitions,display questions,

Goal and ProcessDimensionsofthe FiveTasksUsed in the BerwickStudy
From "Towards an Educational Frameworkfor Teacher-ledTasks in Englishas a Foreign
Language"by R Berwick,in press,in Task-BasedLanguage Teachingedited by G. Crookes &
S. Gass. Copyright Matters.Reprintedbypermission.


Goals Expository - - - - - - - Experiential


Pedagogical CO()M1 COM2

Collaborative/Social LECG1 DIS LEG2


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echoes, expressionsof lexical uncertainty,referentialquestions,self-
expansions,self-repetitions, and other-repetitions.
Berwick (in press) establishedthroughhis researchthattasktype
is an importantdeterminantof lexicogrammaticalexponents. He
was also able to relate the tasks and exponentsto an educational
frameworkwhich provides a broad pedagogical rationalefortask-
based language teaching. I have described his research at some
lengthbecause it exemplifies the value of drawing on a range of
theoreticalmodels in the development of research programsinto
task-basedlanguage teachingand learning.
The second studyreviewed in thissectionis by Duff (in press).
Duff carried out a longitudinal case study of a single learner,
investigatingthe extentto which performanceon different typesof
tasks yielded differenttypes of informationon the subject's
interlanguage.The three tasks investigatedincluded an interview
conversation,a picture description,and a Cambodian folktale
narration. The dependent measures included the amount of
language produced, the range of vocabulary elicited, nominal
reference,and negation. Data were collected from a 24-year-old
Cambodian male, over a 2-yearperiod.
Duff's study yielded mixed results. While there was some
evidence of task-relatedvariability,the subject'sperformancefrom
one data-collectionperiod to thenextalso exhibitedvariability.The
studyraised five fundamentalquestions: (a) Are the tasksselected
distinctenough to be operationalizable constructsin this type of
analysis? (b) Assuming the constructsare valid, are there any
meaningful differences across tasks? (c) To what extent can
variabilitybe ascribed to otherconstructssuch as genre or topic?
(d) Were thefeaturesinvestigatedby theresearcherthesalientones,
or should this line of research be restrictedto those featuresof
interlanguagemorphologyand phonologywhich have been found
to be salient? (e) How is the researcher to account for those
differenceswhichwere observed?
Duff's study is significantwithinthe currentcontext because it
representsa departurefromthe cross-sectionalresearchwhich has
typifiedthe field since its inception. While the longitudinalcase
studyhas been usefullyemployed in otheraspects of SLA research
(see, for example, Schmidt, 1983) it is uncommon in research on
tasks.In the five fundamentalquestionsshe raises as a resultof her
study,Duff also provides a basis fora substantialresearchagenda
for furtherresearch.Finally, she places the issue of interlanguage
variabilityfirmlyon the research agenda. Looking to the future,I
would like to see the issue of variabilityfeaturemore prominently
in researchintotask-basedlanguage learningand teaching.


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In this paper I have provided a selective overview of the
developmentof task-basedlanguage teaching.I have triedto show
that,while it had its genesis in mainstreameducation, task-based
teachinghas become a powerfulinfluencein language education.
At a conceptual level, the approach has been supportedby chang-
ing conceptions of the natureof language and learning-captured
under therubricof communicativelanguage teaching.Empirically,
TBLT is supportedby a healthyresearchagenda which emerged
fromprocess-orientedsecond language acquisition.
In the second part of the paper, I have triedto indicatesome of
the directionsthatTBLT mighttake in the future.In particular,I
have suggestedthatthe conceptual and empiricalbasis needs to be
extendedboth substantively and methodologically,and I described
two recent investigationswhich illustratethe possible shape of
researchundersuch an extendedagenda.

David Nunan is AssociateProfessorof Linguistics at Macquarie University,
Sydney,Australia.His publications
includeSyllabusDesign (OxfordUniversity
Press, 1988), The Learner-CentredCurriculum(CambridgeUniversity Press,
1988),DesigningTasksfortheCommunicative Classroom(CambridgeUniversity
Press,1989),Second LanguageTeacherEducation(withJ. C. Richards,Cam-
bridgeUniversity LanguageClassrooms(Prentice
Press,1990), Understanding
Hall, 1989),and The Australian
EnglishCourse(withJ. Lockwood,Cambridge

Anderson,A., & Lynch,T. (1988). Listening.Oxford: Oxford University
Berwick,R. (1988). The effectof task variationin teacher-ledgroups on
repair of English as a foreignlanguage. Unpublished doctoral disserta-
tion,Universityof BritishColumbia, Vancouver,Canada.
Berwick,R. (in press). Towards an educationalframeworkforteacher-led
tasks in English as a foreignlanguage. In G. Crookes & S. Gass (Eds.),
Task-based language teaching.Clevedon, Avon, England: Multilingual
Breen, M. (1984). Process syllabuses for the language classroom. In C.
Brumfit(Ed.), General English syllabus design. Oxford: Pergamon


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Breen,M. (1987). Learnercontributions to taskdesign. In C. Candlin & D.
Murphy (Eds.), Language learning tasks. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Brindley,G. (1984). Needs analysis and obiective settingin the Adult
Migrant Education Service. Sydney: Adult Migrant Immigration
Brown,G., & Yule, G. (1983). Teaching thespoken language. Cambridge:
Cambridge UniversityPress.
Bruton, G., & Samuda, G. (1980). Learner and teacher roles in the
treatmentof oral errorin group work. RELC Journal,11(3), 49-63.
Doughty,C., & Pica, T. (1986). "Informationgap" tasks:Do theyfacilitate
second language acquisition?TESOL Quarterly,20(3), 305-325.
Duff, P. (in press). Task force on interlanguageperformance:An analysis
of task as independentvariable. In G. Crookes & S. Gass (Eds.), Task-
based language teaching. Clevedon, Avon, England: Multilingual
Gass, S., & Varonis, E. (1985). Task variationand nonnative/nonnative
negotiationof meaning. In S. Gass and C. Madden (Eds.), Input in
second language acquisition.Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). An introductionto functionalgrammar.London:
Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London:
Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1989). Language, context and text:
Aspects of language in a social semiotic perspective. Oxford: Oxford
Kohonen, V. (in press). Experientiallanguage learning:Second language
learning as cooperative learner education. In D. Nunan (Ed.),
Collaborative language learningand teaching.Cambridge: Cambridge
Kolb, D. (1984). Experientiallearning:Experienceas thesource of learning
and development.Englewood Cliffs,NJ:PrenticeHall.
Krashen, S. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language
learning.Oxford: PergamonPress.
Krashen,S. (1982). Principlesand practicein second language acquisition.
Oxford: PergamonPress.
Larsen-Freeman,D., & Long, M. H. (in press). An introductionto second
language acquisitionresearch.London: Longman.
Long, M. H. (1981). Input,interactionand second language acquisition.In
H. Winitz (Ed.), Native language and foreign language acquisition
(Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences No. 379, pp. 259-278).
New York: New York Academy of Sciences.
Long, M. H. (1985a). A role forinstruction in second language acquisition:
Task-based language training.In K. Hyltenstam& M. Pienemann(Eds.),
Modelling and assessingsecond language acquisition. Clevedon, Avon,
England: MultilingualMatters.
Long, M. H. (1985b). Input and second language acquisitiontheory.In S.
Gass & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition.
Rowley, MA: Newbury House.


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Long, M. H. (1990). Task, groups, and task-groupinteractions.In S.
Anivan (Ed.), Language teaching methodology for the nineties.
Singapore: RELC.
Long, M. H., Adams, L., & Castanos, F. (1976). Doing thingswithwords:
Verbal interactionin lockstep and small group classroom situations.In
R. Crymes & J. Fanselow (Eds.), On TESOL '76. Washington,DC:
McDonough, S. (1981). Psychologyin foreignlanguage teaching.London:
Allen & Unwin.
Montgomery,C., & Eisenstein, M. (1985). Real reality revisited: An
experimentalcommunicativecourse in ESL. TESOL Quarterly,19(2),
Nunan, D. (1984). Discourse processingby firstlanguage, second phase,
and second language learners. Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
FlindersUniversityof South Australia,Adelaide.
Nunan, D. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom.
Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress.
Nunan, D. (1991). Language teaching methodology: A textbook for
teachers.London: PrenticeHall.
Nunan, D., & Lockwood, J. (1991). The AustralianEnglish course: Task-
based English for post-beginners.Cambridge: Cambridge University
Porter,P. (1986). How learnerstalkto each other:Inputand interactionin
task-centered discussions. In R. Day (Ed.), Talking to learn:
Conversationin second language acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury
Richards, J. C. (1990). The language teaching matrix. Cambridge:
Cambridge UniversityPress.
Richards, J. C., Platt, J., & Weber, H. (1985). Longman dictionaryof
applied linguistics.London: Longman.
Schmidt, R. (1983). Interaction,acculturation,and the acquisition of
communicativecompetence:A case studyof an adult. In N. Wolfson&
E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguisticsand language acquisition.Rowley, MA:
Newbury House.
Shavelson, R. J., & Stern,P. (1981). Research on teachers' pedagogical
thoughts,judgmentsand behaviour, Review of Educational Research,
51, 4.
Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of compre-
hensibleinputand comprehensibleoutputin itsdevelopment.In S. Gass
& C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition. Rowley,
MA: Newbury House.
Tyler,R. (1949). Basic principlesof curriculumand instruction.
New York:
Widdowson, H. G. (1987). Aspectsof syllabusdesign. In M. Tickoo (Ed.),
Language syllabuses:State of the art. Singapore:RELC.


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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1991

Englishfor SpecificPurposes:
Internationalin Scope,
Specificin Purpose
San Diego State University
The Universityof Birmingham

Over the past 30 years, English for specific purposes has

establisheditselfas a viable and vigorousmovementwithinthe
fieldofTEFL/TESL. In thispaper,Englishforspecificpurposes
is defined and its distinguishingfeatures examined. The
natureand scope of themovement are particularly
emphasized.Finally,questionsand controversiessurroundingthe
movement are discussed.

The studyof languages forspecificpurposes has a long and var-

ied history(Strevens,1977). In recentyears,the focus of research
and curriculumdevelopment has been upon English, as it has
gained ascendancy in internationalscience, technology,and trade.
As TESOL entersitssecond quartercentury,the demand forEng-
lish forspecificpurposes (e.g., Englishforscience and technology,
Englishforbusiness,vocational ESL) continuesto increaseand ex-
pand throughouttheworld.
This paper celebratesthe modernhistoryof Englishforspecific
purposes (ESP), an internationalmovement characterized by a
concernwithadultstudents'"wider roles" (Swales, 1988,p. viii; i.e.,
theirroles as Englishlanguage speakers and writersoutside of the
classroom) and by its groundingin pedagogy, for ESP "distrusts
theoriesthatdo not quite work out in the litmus-paperrealitiesof
the classroom" (Swales, 1988,p. xvii). We will begin by presenting
a standarddefinitionof Englishforspecificpurposes,and continue
by discussingthe distinguishingcharacteristicsof the movement,
needs assessmentand discourseanalysis,thathave set it apart from
"general purpose English." (For an excellent ESP retrospective,
1962-1981, see Swales, 1988.) Following the discussion of these


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features, we will focus upon ESP's international scope and
influence. Finally, we will address some of the questions and
controversiesthatsurroundESP in the 1990s.


ESP requires the careful research and design of pedagogical
materialsand activitiesfor an identifiablegroup of adult learners
within a specific learning context. Categories of ESP include
various academic Englishes, e.g., English for science and
technology,English forgraduateteachingassistants,and "general"
English for academic purposes, in addition to a number of
occupational Englishes,e.g., English for business,and vocational
ESL (also called Englishforthe workplace). Peter Strevens(1988),
who throughout his life was instrumentalin explaining and
developing the movement,provided this extended definitionand
listof claims:
ofESP needsto distinguish
A definition betweenfourabsoluteand two
1) Absolutecharacteristics:
ESP consistsofEnglishlanguageteaching whichis:
-designed to meetspecifiedneedsofthelearner
-related in content(i.e., in its themesand topics)to particular
occupations and activities
-centered on the languageappropriateto those activitiesin
syntax,lexis, discourse,semantics,etc., and analysisof this
-in contrastwith"GeneralEnglish"
2) Variablecharacteristics:
ESP maybe, butis notnecessarily:
-restrictedas to thelanguageskillsto be learned(e.g., reading
-not taughtaccordingto anypre-ordained methodology
Claims:theclaimsforESP are
-being focussedon thelearner's need,wastesno time
-is relevantto thelearner
-is successfulinimparting learning
-is morecost-effective than"GeneralEnglish"(pp. 1-2)
Streven'swidely accepted definitionwill be employed here to
discuss two "absolute" componentsof ESP: needs assessmentand


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Needs Assessment
Throughoutitshistory,ESP practitioners have been preoccupied
withlearnerneeds, withidentifying learnerwants and purposes as
integraland obligatoryelements in materialsdesign.' (For more
complete discussionsof ESP components,see A. M. Johns,1990a;
Robinson, 1980, 1991.) In theirearlyyears,needs assessmentswere
fairlysimple, precourse procedures (Munby, 1978). Recent needs
assessments have grown increasinglysophisticated,however, as
materialsdevelopershave become aware of theproblematicnature
of theirtask. One attemptto capturesome of thecomplexityof the
means by which individuals acquire and employ language was
made by Jacobson (1986), who observed internationalstudentsin
the process of collectingdata for a laboratoryreport,in order to
determineat which points therewas communicationbreakdown.
Other assessmentshave exploitedethnographicprinciplesof "thick
description"in an effortto identifythe various elements of the
targetsituationin which studentswill be using English (Ramani,
Chacko, Singh,& Glendinning,1988).
Though the problems involved in assessing learner needs and
understandingthe situationin which theywill be usingEnglishare
daunting(Coleman, 1988), ESP materialsdesignersand practition-
ers continuein theireffortsto improveand expand theircollection
and analysistechniques.They argue thatall studentsare enrolledin
ESL or EFL classes for particularreasons and that the students'
targetEnglish situationshave identifiableelements;thus,it is the
responsibilityof teachers to discover these factorsand to deliver
courses thatare suitablefortheirstudentpopulations.

A second, closely related elementis discourseanalysis,which in
ESP refersto the examinationof writtenor oral language,generally
for purposes of designing curricularmaterials. Throughout its
recent history (whose beginning Swales, 1988, marks with the
Barber, 1962/1988article), ESP specialists have been concerned
with identifyingand weighing the importanceof featuresof the
authentic,or "genuine" (Widdowson, 1981, p. 4), language of the
situationsin which studentswill be usingEnglish.In manypartsof
the world,the focusof thisanalysisis upon word or itemcounts,or
"lexicostatistics"(Swales, 1988,p. 189). These countshave become
1One of the most articulateproponentsof needs assessment,especially in the EAP reading-
writingcontext,was Dan Horowitz (1986a, 1986b; and A. M. Johns,1990c). Withhis death,
ESP lost an intelligentand persuasiveadvocate.


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increasinglysophisticatedover the years (see, e.g., Gunawardena,
1989). Three promisingavenues for modern item counts are the
and concordancing. Major contributionsto the firstapproach are
found in the work of the "Universityof Washington School,"
consistingof a numberof well-respectednames: Trimble,Selinker,
Lackstrom, Huckin, Tarone, and Bley-Vroman (see especially
Selinker,Tarone, & Hanzeli, 1981). One of the best publicationsby
thisgroup was devoted to thepassive. In thispiece, Tarone, Dwyer,
Gillette,and Icke (1981) explored the incidence and functionsof
this feature acknowledged as typical of English for science and
technology(EST), withinjournal articlesin a single,well-defined
discourse community, astrophysics. In addition to destroying
assumptionsabout the scientificpassive in general,the researchers
turnedto an expertwithinthe astrophysicsdiscoursecommunityto
validate their assumptions. The use of experts to suggest and
confirmneeds and discourse analyses hypotheses has continued
since thattime. (Huckin & Olsen, 1984; Selinker,1979)
A second approach, based upon communicativenotions,has been
inspired by communicative syllabus design. A communicative
approach was taken by Kennedy (1987), for example, who
employed three differentmethods (frequency counts from texts,
dictionary search, and informantuse) to identify nearly 200
different linguistic devices to signal temporal frequency in
academic texts.
A thirdapproach in textfeatureanalysisis concordancing(T. F.
Johns,1989). In Stevens' (1991) concordancingprogram at Sultan
Qaboos University(Oman), forexample, most of thereading texts
assigned to studentsin theirclasses in science and technologyare on
the computer.Studentsand materialsdesignersuse theconcordanc-
ing systemto discover how often and in what contextswords or
phrases appear. A similar program has been developed at the
Universityof Zimbabwe (Mparutsa,Love, & Morrison,1991).
Other text analyses have had more global emphases. Louis
Trimble and his colleagues at the University of Washington
developed a useful Rhetorical Process Chart, which has assisted
researchers and curriculumdesigners to identify,for example,
levels of discourse within texts (Trimble, 1985). Swales (1984,
1990b) has been a leader in encouragingthe examinationof sections
of texts(e.g., introductions)in a numberof disciplinesin order to
determine the required steps. Swales (1990b) defines steps as
"elements that make a paper coherent to genre-experienced
readers" (p. 190). Most of Swales' work in this area has been
devoted to introductionsin researchpapers, in which he has found


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fourprototypicalsteps:establishmentof thefield,descriptionof the
previous research,gap indication,and introductionof the present
research(1990a, p. 192).
Others have chosen to look in depth at one discipline. Dubois
(1980, 1985, 1987), forexample, has investigatedfeaturesof spoken
and writtendiscourse in biomedicine (e.g., purposes of poster
sessions, regulatory language, and citations). Bazerman has
examined the language of physics (1984), and Dudley-Evans and
Henderson (1990) have devoted a volume to the nature of
economics discourse.
Thus far, we have discussed some approaches to analyzing
genuinediscourseservingreal purposesin specifiedcontextsforthe
developmentof ESP materials.However, thisexternalview cannot
satisfy the many adherents of more process, learner-centered
philosophies.Thus, therehave begun a numberof studiesfocusing
upon learner interactionwith discourse, three of which will be
mentionedhere. Olsen and Huckin (1990) and Daoud (1991) have
discovered that many advanced ESL studentsunderstandevery
word in a lectureor in a readingbut stillfail to grasp the principal
argumentsor the purposes and audiences forthe discourse.These
researcherssuggesta broader strategyfor instruction, based upon
the characterof the academic communityin which the discourseis
found. St. John (1987) employed insightsfrom writingprocess
literatureto study the effortsof Spanish scientiststo produce
publishable discoursein English.
In thissection,we have focused upon the "absolute" featuresof
ESP identifiedby Peter Strevens'needs assessmentand discourse
analysis. We now turn to a contextualized discussion of the
internationalscope of the ESP movement.

There are a numberof reasons forthe internationalcharacterof
ESP and itsimportancein EFL environments. As earlyas the 1970s,
the participantsat a conferenceon second language learningand
national development in Asia, Africa,and Latin America summed
up the need forEnglishas follows:
the language problem in developmentstems fromat least three
communication needswhichare increasinglybeingrecognizedbothin
developingcountries themselvesand in othercountries
aidingin their
development:internalcommunication, transmission
of science and
technology, and international
communication. (Mackay& Mountford,
1978,p. vi)


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Countries such as India, Nigeria, Singapore, Fiji, and Kenya
require English for internalcommunication,since thislanguage is
shared by educated citizens, and is the most neutral language
available. Gueye (1990) argues thatin these contexts,ESP, through
English for development purposes, should encourage studentsto
understandtheirroles in the educationaland social developmentof
theirown nations.Because of theinternalEnglishlanguage needs, a
number of countrieshave produced theirown ESP textbooksthat
reflectthe normsof local speech and discourse communitiesrather
than any transnationalstandard. (See, for example, A. M. Johns,
1986.) As economic communitiesform,the need forEnglish often
becomes centralto theirinternalinteractionas well. In anticipation
of the European Community, for example, Michel Perrin at
Bordeaux University,in cooperationwithhis colleagues at Toulouse
and Montpellier,has designed a predoctoral programin ESP for
French universities.
Perhaps of greaterinterestto readers of thisvolume is another
forcein theinternationalizing of ESP: theexplosionof scientificand
technicalEnglish (EST) especially in professionalpublicationsand
graduate schools. Baldauf and Jernudd(1983) have found that in
chemistry,biology,physics,medicine,and math,more than651% of
all internationaljournals are now English language, a dramatic
increase since 1965. To cope with thisexplosion,conferencesand
seminarsdevoted to EST are becoming common. Two recentwell-
attended Latin AmericanESP colloquia, held in Brazil and Chile,
concentrated principally upon written scientific and technical
discourse ("Second Latin American,"1990). A colloquium held in
1990 at the Institute of Agronomy, Rabat, Morocco, included
researchers,teachers,and secondaryschool inspectorsinterestedin
technicaland scientificEnglish. Yearly,the Chinese association of
teachersof Englishand the BritishCouncil cosponsor a conference
in which scientificreading and writingplay centralroles.
A thirdarea of need mentionedby Mackay and Mountford(1978)
is forinternationalcommunication.The language of the airways is
English; thus, ESP courses are designed for pilots and other air
personnel who must communicate without error with air traffic
personnel(Robertson,1988). The language of thesea is also English;
thusmaritimeworkersthroughouttheworld learn SEASPEAK, the
InternationalMaritimeEnglish (Strevens& Johnson,1983). There
are also manyoccasions in international businessin whichEnglishis
the chosen or necessarylanguage of communication,even among
nonnative-speaking interlocutors(Smith,1987).
Not surprisingly, internationalpublicationsvoice ESP (and lan-
guage forspecificpurposes) concerns:forexample,theALSED-LSP


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Newsletter (from the Copenhagen School of Economics),
publishedby UNESCO; a numberofspecial issuesand publications
from the Regional English Language Centre in Singapore;
FACHSPRACHE (Austria); ESPMENA (Sudan); and several
others.EFL subscribersto EnglishforSpecific Purposes:An Inter-
nations(thismay be partiallyexplainedby thefactthatESP is often
called somethingelse in English-speakingcountries,e.g., "content-
based instruction" in the U.S. and Englishfortheworkplace (EWP)
in Australia;and morethanhalfof thearticlesare writtenby authors
teachingin EFL contexts.Unfortunately, manyof the superior,but
localized, ESP projects are not discussed in internationalpublica-
tions,a great loss for teachersand materialsdesignerseverywhere
(Swales, 1988).


In the early days, while ESP was establishingitselfas a separate
and valid activitywithinthe general contextof English language
teaching,the main controversycenteredaround the validityof the
approach: Was ESP likely to be more successful than general
purpose English (GPE) at preparingstudentsforstudythroughthe
medium of English or workingin situationsin which communica-
tion takes place in English?Early articles,such as thoseby Higgins
(1966) and Allen and Widdowson (1974) argued the case for ESP
and were influential in establishingthemovement.At thattime(late
1960s, early 1970s), ESP activity drew much inspirationfrom
applied linguists such as Barber (1962/1988) and Lackstrom,
Selinker,and Trimble (1972). The materials production of ESP
practitionerssuch as Herbert (1965), Swales (1971), and Bates and
Dudley-Evans (1976) seemed to parallel the more theoreticalwork
of applied linguists.In the late 1970s and 1980s, theoreticalwork
seemed to lag behind materials development; only recentlyhas
theoreticallymotivatedresearchbegun to close the gap.
Now, we findESP less constrainedto argue the case forits own
existence.This is partly,we suspect,because the case forESP has
now been accepted internationally,and it is now possible for
teachers, especially in EFL contexts,to pursue a career in ESP
work. Unfortunately, however, few empirical studies have been
conducted to test the effectiveness of ESP courses. Foley's
discussionof the ESP programat the Universityof Petroleumand
Minerals (1979) and the reportof the evaluation of the Brazil ESP
Reading Project(Celani, Holmes, Ramos, & Scott,1988) are notable
exceptions. For the most part, reportson ESP courses consist of
what Bowyers (1980) calls "war storiesand romances."


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Despite its acceptance as an activitycentral to many English
language teachingcontexts,controversiesand questionswithinESP
remain.Principalamong themare thefollowing:
1. How specificshould ESP coursesand textsbe?
2. Should they focus upon one particularskill, e.g., reading, or
should the fourskillsalways be integrated?
3. Can an appropriateESP methodologybe developed?
The question of how specific ESP courses should be was first
raised directlyby R. Williams (1978) who argued in favor of a
"wide-angle" (p. 30) approach in which language and skills are
taught throughtopics that are drawn from a varietyof subjects
ratherthan from the students'own discipline or profession.The
argumentfor a wide-angle approach has also been forwardedby
Widdowson in his volume Learning Purpose and Language Use
(1983), as well as by materialswritersand teachers of academic
writing(Spack, 1988). But the strongestcase forthisview has been
made by Hutchisonand Waters.In a numberof influentialarticles,
for example, "ESP at the Crossroads" (1980), and in theirvolume
EnglishforSpecificPurposes:A Learner-CentredApproach (1987),
they argue that the narrow-angleapproach is demotivatingand
irrelevantto studentneeds. In particular,they claim thatstudents
should be grouped forESP classes across broad subject areas with
materials drawing from topics that give "access to a number of
differentspecialistareas" (Hutchinson& Waters,1987, p. 166) thus
making studentsaware of the "lack of specificityof theirneeds"
(1987, p. 167).
We believe that the case made by Hutchinson and Waters is
overstated.The seeming suitabilityof the wide-angle approach to
prestudy courses does not mean that it is suitable for all ESP
courses, in particular, for graduate students and professionals
(Swales, 1990a) and in a number of EFL contexts.The various
team-teachingexperimentsreported in the ESP literature(e.g.,
de Escorcia, 1984; T. F. Johns& Dudley-Evans, 1980) show thatthe
wide-angle or so-called common core approach needs to be
supplemented by some attemptto define students'more specific
needs and theactual language difficulties thattheyface on a day-to-
day basis in classes in theirdisciplines in theirprofessionallives.
The concern with the nature of the discourse community(Joliffe,
1988; Swales, 1990a) and theprocess of socializationof the"novice"
into that community (Ballard, 1984; Berkenkotter,Huckin, &
Ackerman,1991) confirmthe need for focus upon the differences
among disciplines and professions. Related studies in rhetoric


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confirmtheneed fortheESP teacherto take account of thevarying
epistemologicalassumptionsof differentacademic disciplinesand
professionaldiscourse communities.In academic studies,Hansen
(1988) shows clearly that rhetoricalconventionsdifferbetween
anthropology and sociology; Benson (1991) demonstrates that
values upon which discourses are based vary from discipline to
The debate about the validity of a focus upon a single skill is
conducted along similarlines. In ESP practice, the single skill is
usually reading because of its primaryimportancein many EFL
environments. It has been argued (e.g., Chitravelu, 1980;
Hutchinson & Waters, 1987) that concentrationon one skill is
limitingand thatsome attentionto otherskillsis likelyto improve
performance in the target skill. Nonetheless, monoskill reading
courses have undoubtedlyproved popular and successfulin many
parts of the world, such as China (A. M. Johns,1986) and some
Latin American countries("Second Latin American,"1990). The
exemplary Brazilian ESP project has generated both teaching
materials and a number of reportson the relevance of teaching
readingalone (Celani, et al., 1988).
Does ESP have itsown methodology?It has tended to be a needs-
and materials-ledmovement,historicallyquestionedby onlya few
(see Phillips & Shettlesworth,1978). However, with the learner-
centered bias of Hutchinson and Waters (1987), interest in
methodologies has increased. Courses at the Asian Instituteof
Technology in Thailand (Hall & Kenny, 1988) and the British
Council's English Study Centre in Recife, Brazil, exhibit this
We believe thatESP requiresmethodologiesthatare specialized
or unique. An English for academic purposes (EAP) class taught
collaborativelyby a language teacher and a subject-arealecturer
(T. F. Johns& Dudley-Evans, 1980), shelteredand adjunct EAP
classes (Brinton,Snow, & Wesche,1989), and special Englishclasses
forstudentsin theworkplace (Lompers, 1991) requireconsiderably
differentapproaches thanthose foundin generalEnglishclasses.
Given the importanceof the teachingof writingin many ESP
situations,it is not surprisingthattheprocess/productdebate in L1
compositiontheory(Flower, 1989) has spilled over into ESP. The
work of genreanalysis(Swales, 1990a) and the increasinginfluence
of the social constructionist view of writing(A. M. Johns,1990b),
however, seem to provide a systemof analysis and therebyan
approach to theteachingof writing( Weissberg& Buker,1990) that
successfullycombines the considerationof end product with the


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We noted earlier that ESP is now accepted as an important,if
idiosyncratic,part of Englishlanguage teaching,at least in interna-
tional contexts.It is now increasinglyconcerned withthe "ecologi-
cal" issue of how to ensurethatESP projectslast and continuein lo-
cal situations(Holliday & Cooke, 1982), and in this,the role of the
nonnative-speakerESP teacheris crucial. As mightbe predicted,a
considerable numberof ESP studentand teacher preparationpro-
gramshave arisenin EFL contexts. Two of many examples are the
courses for technical studentsand teaching professionalsat Jiao
Tong Universityin Shanghai,China-a countryin which thereare
numerousESP programsand publications-and at theundergradu-
ate teacherpreparationprogramat theUniversityof Blida, Algeria.
Other ESP programs are in the offing,for example, a graduate
programat the Catholic Universityin Santiago,Chile.
It is unfortunate thatgraduateprogramsin the UnitedStateshave
not recognized the need for English for specific purposes courses
forinternationalstudentsor English-speakingstudentswho desire
employmentoverseas or in specific purpose contexts.Because of
thislacuna, it is difficultforagencies such as AMIDEST (American
Friends of the Middle East) to place studentsforgraduatestudies,
and forthe United StatesInformationAgency,whichprovidesU.S.
consultantsfor internationalcontexts,to satisfythe requests for
English for specific purposes experts (B. Avant, personal
communication,1991).2 The situationis considerablybetterin other
English-speakingcountries.In the United Kingdom, for example,
thereare a number of ESP teachertrainingprograms,includinga
Master of Science in Teaching English for Specific Purposes at
Astonand a certificatein Teaching ESP at the Universityof Essex.
For most of its history,ESP has been dominated by English for
academic purposes, and under thatrubric,by English for science
and technology (Swales, 1988); EAP continues to dominate
internationally. However, the increased number of immigrantsin
English-speakingcountriesand the demand forMBA courses in all
partsof the world have increased the demand forprofessionaland
businessEnglish,vocational English (VESL/EVP in the U.S., EOP
in the U.K.), and English in the workplace (WPLT) programs.
Again, there is a dilemma about how specific the business and
vocational Englishcourses should be and whetherthesecourses are
2 The planned creation of an ESP Special InterestGroup in TESOL may improve matters
somewhat, though the currentSIG membership consists principally of consultantsin
workplace contexts in the United States, whose needs and interestsare considerably
differentfromthose of the internationalstudentor scholar.


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to be considered ESP. It is our contention that all courses in
specialized language and practicefallunderthe Englishforspecific
purposes rubric.
As happened in the 1970s in the case of English for academic
purposes and English for science and technology,the increasing
interestin professionalEnglish has resultedin a number of good
general business English volumes which have emerged from
teachingsituations.These include books such as BusinessConcepts
forEnglishPractice(Dowling & McDougal, 1982),BusinessEnglish
(Wilbert& Lewis, 1990),In at theDeep End (Hollett,Carter,Lyon,
& Tanner,1989), and Ready forBusiness(Vaughan & Heyen, 1990)
thathave clearlybenefitedfromhavingbeen piloted and revisedin
light of teaching experience. However, in the more specific
materialson topics such as meetingskills,businessnegotiation,and
case studies,thereis thedangerof overdependenceon thematerials
writers'intuitionsabout what is involved in such activities,rather
than upon research and analysis of representativediscourse. A
number of studies have pointed to the mismatch between the
textbookview of what happens in,forexample,a businessmeeting
and what a detailed analysis reveals (Oertli, 1991; M. Williams,
1988). This is not to suggest that otherbranches of ESP have not
faced the same problems. Research in business-relatedskills is,
however, hampered by the difficultyof obtainingdata. Lampi's
(1985) work on business negotiationis, unfortunately, a relatively
rareexample of a businessEnglishstudybased upon authenticdata.
As ESP delves deeper intostudents'needs and extendsbeyond its
traditionalEAP base, therewill be an increasingneed forresearch
into the nature of discourse, writtenor spoken, that must be
produced or understood by those enrolled in ESP courses. The
importanceto ESP of genreanalysis(Swales, 1990a), of theinsights
of writingscholarssuch as Bazerman (1988) and Myers(1989), and
of the findingsof thosestudyingtherole of writtentextin the work
situation(Bazerman & Paradis, 1991;Coleman, 1989) will also be of
increasingsignificance.Whetheror not thisresearchwill take ESP
furtheraway from its parent disciplines of TESL/TEFL and
applied linguistics,as Swales (1988) suggests,remainsto be seen.
Whatis clear is thatit will increasinglydraw on and workwithother
disciplines such as rhetoric,the sociology of science, and social
Interestingly,the converse also seems to be occurring:Other
disciplines are now beginningto draw upon the insightsof ESP-
related research,as can be seen fromrelated work in communica-
tion studies (Chukwuma, Obah, Robinson,& St. John,1991; Love,


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1991). A review (Brown, 1991) of The Language of Economics
(Dudley-Evans & Henderson, 1990) in the Economic Journal
expresses some impatience with the authors'carefulargumentfor
the importanceof genreand discourseanalysisto an understanding
of thenatureof communication;thereviewerlooked forwardto the
considerationin a successor volume of "the wider epistemological
implicationof discourse analysis for the teaching and learningof
economics" (p. 1317). ESP may,in fact,begin to expand beyond its
classroom role to assume a substantialconsultancyrole in a wide
varietyof academic and professionalenvironments.

The authorswould liketo thankJohnSwales forhis assistancein shapingthepaper
and forhis valuable commentson itsvariousdrafts.

AnnM. Johnsis Professor
of AcademicSkillsand Linguistics
at San Diego State
Universityin California. She is the author of articles on English for academic
purposesand Coeditor(withU. Connor)of Coherencein Writing:
Pedagogical Perspectives (TESOL, 1990). She is Coeditor (with Tony Dudley-
Evans and JohnSwales) of EnglishforSpecificPurposes:AnInternationalJournal.
She has worked cooperatively on curriculumdevelopment projects in eight
countries. Her research interestsinclude student representationof academic
reading and writingtasks, testingacademic literacy,and argumentationin the

Tony Dudley-Evans is Senior Lecturerand Director of the English for Overseas

StudentsUnit in the School of English at the Universityof Birmingham.He has
coedited internationalESP textbooks and has written articles on ESP/EAP.
he hascoeditedTheLanguageofEconomics:TheAnalysis
Discourse (with Willie Henderson) (ELT Documents No. 134, 1990). He is
Coeditor (with Ann Johnsand JohnSwales) of Englishfor Specific Purposes: An
InternationalJournal.He has taughtand consultedin a varietyof environments;
particular interestsare ESP, team teaching with subject specialists,and genre

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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 1991

Second Language AcquisitionResearch:

StakingOut theTerritory
School forInternationalTraining

Since its emergence some 20 years ago, the field of second

language acquisitionresearchhas focusedon two areas: thenature
of the language acquisitionprocess and the factorswhich affect
language learners. Initial research was essentially descriptive.
More recently,researchershave been attemptingto explain how
acquisition occurs and how learner factorslead to differential
success among learners.The focus has alternatelybroadened as
researchersbecame more aware of the complexityof the issues
and narrowed as greater depth of analysis was required. The
paper suggeststhatthe next phase of researchwill be character-
ized by a union of thesetwo focal areas: learningand the learner.
It also recommends that more research attentionbe given to

One could argue thatthe launchingof the TESOL Quarterly25

years ago predated the emergence of second language acquisition
(SLA) researchas an identifiablefield.Accordingly,my taskshould
have been easier than that of my colleagues writingfor these
commemorativeissues of the Quarterly.This was small comfort,
however, when faced withthe dauntingchallenge of doing justice
to all thathas transpiredsince the early 1970s.' What has occurred
since then,of course, is a veritableexplosion of researchfocusing
firstupon the acquisition/learningprocess and second upon the
language learner.2This review will be organized around thesetwo
foci and around two subthemes: the alternate broadening and
1 Certainlysome importantstudiesof language learningwere conductedpriorto this(see, for
example, some of the earlystudiescompiled in Hatch, 1978), but thesedid not constitutea
field of investigationas was to emerge in the 1970s.
2 It is beyond the scope of thisarticle to treateitherof these comprehensively.Interested
readers may wish to consult overviews by Ellis (1985), and Larsen-Freemanand Long
(1991) formore detail. I have especially drawn upon the latterin writingthisreview.
I will also be unable to deal withmattersconcerningresearchmethodologyin thisarticle.
Interestedreadersshould see J. D. Brown (1988), Hatch and Lazaraton (1991), Kasper and
Grotjahn(1991), and Seliger& Shohamy (1989).


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narrowingof perspectiveon thefocusof inquiryand themovement
fromdescription(or what learnersdo) to explanation(or how they
learn to do it).


A BroadeningofPerspective3
Before the emergenceof SLA as a field,researchersconducted
contrastiveanalysesbetween the learners'LI and L2 in orderto an-
ticipateareas of divergencewhich were likelyto cause the learners
difficultyand thoseof convergencewhereone could expectpositive
transfer.This practicewas consistentwiththethenprevailingbehav-
ioristview of language acquisition:learningby conditioning.It was
thoughtthat if materials could be prepared which would help
learnersovercometheconditionedhabitsof theirL1 whiletheywere
imitatingthe new patternsof the L2, language acquisitionwould be
facilitated.Errorsthat mightresultfrominterference fromthe L1
were to be preventedor at least held to a minimum.
Ironically,it was learners'errors,so threateningto behaviorists,
which were to lead to the shiftin awareness thatspawned the SLA
field. Overgeneralization errors (*I eated it) typical of first
language acquirers were discovered in the oral productionof L2
learners.Since such errorscould nothave resultedfromimitationof
targetlanguage (TL) speech, the errorswere taken as support for
Chomsky'sproposal thatthe acquisitionprocess was essentiallyone
of rule formation,not habit formation.Learnerswere seen to play
an active role in formingand testinghypothesesin an effortto
induce the TL rules from the TL speech to which they were
exposed. With the ascribing of an active role to the language
learner, the SLA field was born. (See, for example, Oller &
Richards,1973; Schumann& Stenson,1974).
Learner errors became a major focus of study. Certainly
interference errorswere detected,but so were errorsresultingfrom
overgeneralization,redundancy reduction, and communicative
strategies.Errors were also analyzed to see if they reflectedthe
underlyingsystemthatCorder (1967) claimed learnersused. Error
analysesdeterminedthisindeed to be thecase, and Selinker's(1972)
term interlanguage(IL) was embraced to signifythat learners
approximationsof the TL were separate linguisticsystemsin their
own right,not governedby the same rulesas eitherthe learners'L1
or L2 (Adjemian, 1976).
3The sequence described in this section follows from Hakuta and Cancino (1977), and
van Els, Bongaerts,Extra,van Os, and Janssen-vanDieten (1984).


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While the study of learner errorscontinuedto be illuminating,
erroranalysis alone was deemed an incomplete perspectivefor a
numberof reasons (Schachter& Celce-Murcia,1977). Chief among
thesewas thata focuson errorsneglectedlearners'actual successes.
In addition,since learnerscould sometimesavoid makingerrorsin
the L2 by not attemptingto produce difficultstructures,error
analyses did not even account for all sources of learnerdifficulty
(Schachter,1974). These limitationsof erroranalysiswere remedied
in a type of analysiswhich took the learner'sperformance(errors
and well-formedutterances)as the focusof inquiry.
Among the earliest performanceanalyses were the morpheme
studies. In 1974, Dulay and Burt claimed that they had found
evidence of an Englishmorphemeorderof acquisitionbased upon
ESL learners' relative use of eleven morphemes in obligatory
contexts.Furthermore, theyasserted,the acquisitionorderheld for
both Chinese and Spanish-speakingchildren,and was therefore
thoughtto be imperviousto L1 influence.Dulay, Burt,and Krashen
(1982) thus referredto the SLA process as "creative construction:
the subconscious process by which language learnersgraduallyor-
ganize thelanguage theyhear,accordingto therulestheyconstruct
to understandand generatesentences"(p. 276). This and otherearly
morphemestudiesexcitedresearcherswho welcomed thenew view
of language acquisition and the empirical support of an innate
learner-generated or built-insyllabus(Corder, 1967). These studies
also, however, came under attack,mostlyfor theirmethodology
and claims of minimalL1 interference.
Anothertype of performanceanalysiswas also being conducted
at the time, namely the analysis of the speech data of learners
collected at regularintervalsfora period of at least severalmonths.
Data collected longitudinallyenabled researchers to see that
learnersof all typespassed throughcommon developmentalstages
in theiracquisitionof certainstructures.Developmental sequences
were identified for English interrogatives(Cazden, Cancino,
Rosansky,& Schumann,1975; Wode, 1978), negation (Schumann,
1979), German word order (Meisel, Clahsen, & Pienemann,1981),
Swedish relativeclauses (Hyltenstam,1984), Englishrelativeclauses
(Pavesi, 1986), and a varietyof otherEnglish structures(Johnston,
1985). Since theintermediatestagesin thedevelopmentalsequences
looked like neitherthe L1 nor L2, theyreinforcedthe observation
thatlearnerswere not merelyreshapingtheirLls to conformto the
L2s, but ratherthat learnerswere creativelyconstructingthe L2
througha process of gradual complexification.These findingsalso
underscoredthe need forresearchersto examine the learners'IL in
its own rightin order to understandthe acquisitionprocess rather


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than seeing the IL as an incomplete version of the TL (Bley-
Vroman, 1983). This observed acquisitionprocess was not a linear
one; often there was backsliding or forgettingwhen new forms
were introduced, resultingin a learning curve that was more
U-shaped than smoothlyascending (Kellerman,1985). Sometimes,
too, not all stages in a sequence were traversed,leading to arrested
development or fossilized forms.Moreover, learnerswere freely
makinguse not only of rule-governedutterances,but also of rote-
learned formulaicutterances,both routinesand patterns(Hakuta,
1976), leading some investigatorsto suggest that rule-governed
language developed from formulaic speech, which was later
analyzed by the learner(Wong Fillmore,1976).
Notwithstandingthe insightsyielded, a focus on learnerperfor-
mance, as withthe erroranalyses thatpreceded it,was foundto be
too narrow. Time and researchwere required to discover what in
hindsightseems obvious: Performanceanalysis alone could not
account for the whole picture. ESL learner Homer's (Wagner-
Gough, 1975) utterancessuch as *what is thisis truckcould onlybe
understoodby expandingthe focusof investigationto include what
was being said to Homer priorto his response.
Recognition of the need to examine not only the learner's
performancebut also the input to the learner,introduceda whole
new area of inquiry,namely discourse analysis (Larsen-Freeman,
1980). Hatch has been the SLA researcherwho has most promoted
the value of examining what learners could be learning when
engaged in collaborativediscourse.For Hatch, a significantvehicle
for acquisition is interactionwith otherspeakers. Rather than the
usual view that learners build up to conversationalcompetence
after gaining gradual control of lexical items and syntactic
structures,Hatch (1978) writes: "One learns how to interact
verbally, and out of this interaction,syntactic structuresare
developed" (p. 409). Since Hatch's observation,much researchhas
been conducted underthe rubricof discourseanalysis:the studyof
the acquisition of speech acts (Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984),
communicativestrategies(Faerch & Kasper, 1983) and classroom
discourseanalysis(Allwright,1988;Chaudron,1988;van Lier, 1988),
to name a few.
This brief historicalreview of the SLA field demonstratesa
progressive broadening of perspective. Each type of analysis
subsumed withoutreplacing its predecessor. Indeed, each type of
analysiscontinuesto be conducted,but withgreaterawareness of a
necessary breadth of inquiry. After the decade of broadening
perspective,therecame also a recognitionof the need fora deeper
examinationof specificissues raised duringthe 1970s: specifically,


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inputto learners,and IL variation.4Thus, the 1980ssaw
L1 transfer,
a narrowingof focus so thateach of these could be explored more
fully.The followingis a summaryof what was learned.

Narrowingthe Perspective:LanguageTransfer
We have already seen thatall errorscould no longerbe traced to
L1 interference.Indeed, the contrastiveanalysishypothesis,which
stated thatthose areas of the TL whichwere most dissimilarto the
learners' L1 would cause the most difficulty,was refuted by
researchthatindicatedthatit was oftenthesimilarities between the
two languages which caused confusion. In fact, Wode (1978)
framed this observationas a principle:"Only if L1 and L2 have
structuresmeeting a crucial similaritymeasure will there be
interference,i.e., reliance on prior L1 knowledge" (p. 116). This
principleis significantin two respects.First,it reflectsthe growing
view that transfercould be seen as a cognitivestrategy:Learners
rely on what theyknow (Taylor, 1975). Second, it foreshadowed
what was to occupy researchers throughoutthe next decade:
specifyingpreciselywhen transferwould occur. The factthatfour
books were published duringthe 1980son the theme of transferin
SLA is testamentto the vitalityof thisline of research(Dechert &
Raupach, 1989; Gass & Selinker, 1983; Kellerman & Sharwood
Smith,1986; Odlin, 1989).
In addition to Wode's claim that there had to be a "crucial
similarity,"work by Eckman and by Kellermancontributedto our
understandingof when transferoccurs. Eckman (1985) suggested
thatthe markednessdifferencebetween the L1 and L2 would play
a role. Where the L2 was more markedthanthe L1, learnerswould
experience more difficulty;furthermore, the relative degree of
difficultywould correspondto the relativedegree of markedness.
Where the two languages were different, but the L2 was not more
marked than the LI, difficultywould not arise. Kellerman (1984)
noticed that learners'perceptionsof the distance between the LI
and L2 would affectthe degree to which learnerswould transfer
forms.What was noteworthyhere was the extentto whichthe idea
of transferas a deliberatecognitivestrategyhad takenhold.
A second question concerningtransfer,which stimulatedmuch
researchduringthe decade, was preciselywhat effecttransferhad
on learners'ILs. We have already seen how it was responsiblefor
errorsas well as positivetransferand underproductionor avoidance
4In fact,each of these areas was the theme of at least one conference.The series of three
applied linguisticsconferences at the Universityof Michigan during the decade, for
example, addressed language transfer(1982), input(1983), and variation(1987).


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of certain structures.Other research demonstratedthat transfer
manifesteditselfin the followingways:
1. Overproduction of a particular TL form (Schachter &
2. Inhibiting or accelerating passage through a developmental
sequence (Zobl, 1982)
3. Constrainingthe nature of hypotheses that language learners
make (Schachter,1983)
4. Prolongingthe use of a developmentalformwhen it is similarto
an L1 structure(potentiallyresultingin fossilization)(Zobl, 1983)
5. Substitution(use of L1 formin the L2) (Odlin, 1989)
6. Hypercorrection(overreactionto a particularinfluencefromthe
L1) (Odlin, 1989)
Clearly, transferis a much more pervasive phenomenon in SLA
thanwas once thought.

Narrowingthe Perspective:Input
Recall thatby theend of the 1970sresearchershad become aware
of the need to examine the raw materialor input with which the
learners had to work, recognizing,of course, that not all input
would become intake(Corder, 1967). Many studiesinvestigatedthe
link between input and output (Gass & Madden, 1985). (I have
drawn fromLarsen-Freeman,1985,fora synopsisof thesestudies.)
With regard to the quantity of the input, many, but not all,
researchersadduced evidence in support of the hypothesisthat
learners who have the opportunityto use the L2 regularlyor to
receive the most input will exhibit the greatest proficiency.
Research in the area of input quality searched for a linkbetween
certaincharacteristicsof the input (perceptual saliency,frequency
of occurrence, syntactic complexity, semantic complexity,
instructionalsequence) and some aspect of the learners' output.
Again, althoughnot withoutchallenge,a recurringfindingwas the
correlationbetween the frequencyof certainformsin theinputand
theirappearance in learners'ILs.
Studies of input also focused on conversationsbetween native
(NSs) and nonnativespeakers (NNSs) and those between NNSs,
comparingboth to a baseline of NS-NS interactions(see Day, 1986).
Some of the modifications(termedforeignertalk [FT]) which NSs
make to accommodate NNSs' level of comprehensionare slower
rate of speech, louder volume (!), fewer false starts,longerpauses,


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more restrictedvocabulary,more concretelexicon, greateruse of
gestures,repetition,shorterlength,more deliberate enunciation,
and simplersyntax(Hatch, 1983). These modificationsare notmade
by all native speakers, nor are they static. The degree of
modificationof "teachertalk,"forexample,varies accordingto the
proficiency of the students (Gaies, 1977). Similarly, NSs are
continuously readjusting their speech based on their ongoing
assessment of their NNS interlocutors'comprehension (Gass &
Long (1980) made an importantdistinctionbetween thelinguistic
modificationsof FT and thosemade to theinteractionalstructureof
conversationsbetween NSs and NNSs. The latter include such
phenomena as comprehension checks, confirmation checks,
expansions,requestsforclarification, etc., whichare
the resultof the negotiationof meaningbetween the learnersand
theirconversationalpartners.It was shown thatthese interactional
or elaborative modificationsmay enhance NNSs' comprehension
even more thanlinguisticalterations.
Strongproposals have been put forthabout the role of inputin
SLA. For instance,Krashen (1982) called comprehensibleinput in
thepresence of a low affectivefiltertheonlycausal variablein SLA.
While mostresearchersaccept theneed forlearnersto comprehend
the input (in order forit to become intakeand not just noise), few
would agree that comprehensibleinput alone is sufficient.Swain
(1985), for example, considered the case of the studentsin the
Canadian French Immersion Program. These studentsreceived
abundant comprehensible input but had not yet fully acquired
grammatical competence in French. Since the learners could
understandthe inputwithoutfullyanalyzingits syntacticstructure,
Swain suggested thatthe learnersalso needed practice producing
comprehensibleoutput.Doing so may forcelearnersto move from
semanticto syntacticprocessing.

Narrowingthe Perspective:Variation
As are all naturallanguages,ILs are variable. It is not surprising,
however, that thisvariabilitywas overlooked in the early days of
researchgiven thatmostattentionwas focused on the systematicity
of IL. Synchronicvariabilitywas too obvious to be ignoredforlong,
however. As teachers can readily attest,it is not uncommon for
studentswho appear to have mastereda particularitem,to revertto
an erroneousformwhen a new challengepresentsitself.
In recent years, the number of books devoted to variation
demonstratesthesignificanceof thistopic in SLA circles(Adamson,


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1988; Burmeister& Rounds, 1990;Eisenstein,1989;Ellis, 1987; Gass,
Madden, Preston,& Selinker,1989a, 1989b; Preston,1989; Tarone,
1988). Most of the research has attemptedto explain variability,
while preservingthe notionof an IL system(Huebner, 1985). This
has been accomplished by maintainingthat variabilityitself is
systematic,i.e., explicable with appeal to certain linguisticand
contextual factors,leaving only a portion as nonsystematicfree
variation.One explanationprofferedforthe synchronicvariability
foundin learners'performanceon taskshas been the sociolinguistic
constructof speech style.Tarone (1979) hypothesizedthat at any
point in time a learner'sIL is really a continuumof speech styles,
where styleis definedin termsof the amount of attentiongiven to
formin the language. Withthe least attentionbeing given to form,
learnersrelyon a vernacularspeech style,a stylewhich shows the
greatestsystematicity(Labov, 1969). When learnersare carefully
attendingto form,the styletheyexhibitis at the otherend of the
continuum. This style is more permeable, i.e., more open to
influencefromotherlanguages,and is thereforethe most variable,
or least systematic.(But see Sato, 1985.)
In addition to attention to form as a reason for variable
performance,otherexplanationshave been:
1. Learners'monitoringtheirperformance(Krashen,1977)
2. Sociolinguisticfactors(Beebe, 1980)
3. Adjustmentof one's speech towards one's interlocutor(conver-
gence) or away fromone's interlocutor(divergence) (Beebe &
4. Linguisticor situationalcontextof use (Ellis, 1985)
5. Discourse domains (Selinker& Douglas, 1985)
6. The amountof planningtimelearnershave (Crookes, 1989)
7. A combination of factors: stage of acquisition, linguistic
environment, communicativeredundancy(Young, 1988)
8. Learners'use of other-regulated or self-regulatedspeech (Lantolf
& Ahmed, 1989)
What seems to be accepted at the momentis thatwhat appears at
firstto be random variation can often be accounted for with
variable (or probabilistic)rules. The notion of systematicity in IL,
therefore,remainsintact.What is not clear, however, is just what
kind of systemit is. What is certainis thatbeing systematicdoes not
mean simplygovernedby categoricalrules.
I shall returnto the themeof variationbelow; before doing so, it
should be remembered that a subthemeof this articleis the shift


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from description to explanation. While the early days of SLA
research were appropriatelyconsumed by descriptionsof what
learnersdo (and stillmuch more is needed at all levels of language),
by the mid-1980scalls were being made fortheoryconstruction and
explanations of the acquisition process (see, for example, Long,
1985). (Of course, it should be acknowledged that the questions
posed and data collected in describinganythinghas "thebeginning
of an explanation embedded in it" (Long, 1990b) and that
explanationis a complementaryextensionof description.)


We have already seen with regard to descriptionhow the SLA
fieldhas moved froma narrowfocuson erroranalysisto a broader
one on discourseanalysisand back to a narrowfocuson theareas of
transfer,input,and variation.Since the latterhalf of the 1980s,we
find a more or less narrow approach being taken with theory
constructionas well. Following Ellis (1985) and Larsen-Freeman
and Long (1991), I will adopt a threefoldclassificationschema for
theoreticalperspectivesin the SLA field:nativist(learningdepends
upon a significant, specialized innate capacity for language
acquisition),behaviorist/environmentalist (the learner'sexperience
is more importantthan innate capacity), and interactionist(both
internaland externalprocesses are responsible).I will illustrateeach
category with one theoretical perspective in SLA research,
recognizing that throughmy selectivityI will have unavoidably
slightedmany others."

For many years, linguists operating within the tradition of
generative grammar have taken as their primary objective a
descriptionof the knowledge or competence of the ideal speaker-
listenerof thelanguage. Withtheadventof Chomsky'sgovernment-
binding theory, more attentionhas been concentrated on the
question of how thecompetence of thenativespeaker is attained.A
major assumptionChomsky makes is that the linguisticinput to
children acquiring their first language underdeterminesor is
insufficientto account forlanguage acquisition.Moreover,children
5 Some of the more prominentamong these being Krashen'smonitormodel (1985), Hatch
and Hawkins' experientialapproach (1985); Bialystokand Ryan's knowledge and control
dimensions (1985); McLaughlin's cognitive theory (1987); the multidimensionalmodel
(Pienemann & Johnston,1987; Clahsen, 1987); Andersen'scognitiveinteractionistmodel
(1988), and the functionalist


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do not receive negative evidence (they are not told that a given
utteranceis ungrammatical)and thusmustlearn fromthe positive
evidence instantiated in the input alone. Since the input is
supposedly inadequate, it is assumed that the childrenpossess an
innate UG which constrainstheirgrammaticaldevelopment. The
UG consists of a number of fixed abstract principles which
predispose childrento organize the language they hear in certain
ways (White, 1990). The principles, in turn, have parameters
associated withthemwhich differfromlanguage to language. One
example which has often been cited as a principle in UG is the
subjacency principle,whichlimitsmovementof constituents within
sentencesso that,at most,one boundarycan be crossed at a time.
This principle is held to apply to all languages. What counts as a
bounding node, however, is determinedby a parametricsetting
triggeredby exposure to a given language. Thus, in English the
bounding nodes are S and NP, whereas in Italian and French NP
and S' are boundingnodes, but not S (White,1990).
The impact of Chomsky'stheoryon SLA can be measuredby the
numberof books thathave been published of late dealing withthe
application of UG to SLA (Flynn,1987; Flynn& O'Neill, 1988; Gass
& Schachter,1989; Pankhurst,Sharwood Smith,& van Buren,1988;
White,1988). Some researchersmaintain(Felix, 1985; Flynn,1983;
Hilles, 1986; Mazurkewich, 1985; Tomaselli & Schwartz, 1990;
White,1988; Zobl, 1990) thatUG is in fact stillavailable to second
language learnerssuch thattheirresultinggrammaris shaped by its
principles.Whitepointsout thatthe adult second language learner
is faced withthe same challenge as is a child firstlanguage learner:
tryingto learn a language from degenerate and limited input.
(Althoughjust how degenerate the data are is a matterof some
debate [cf. Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991].) Felix adds that
sequences of development and paucity of input data suggestthat
there is good reason to expect that UG may continueto operate
even afterpuberty.
As Schachter (1990) reports,Bley-Vroman(1989), Clahsen and
Muysken(1986), and Schachter(1988) (see also Jordens,1988) have
arrivedat somewhat differentconclusions.These researchershave
argued that the resultsof the SLA process differso dramatically
fromfirstlanguage acquisition (where native speaker competence
is always achieved, thereare no transfer effectsor fossilization,etc.)
thatit is not likelythatUG is presentin itsentiretyin postpubescent
learners.It is possible, however, that if language learnersdo not
have directaccess to UG, theydo throughtheirknowledge of their
L1 (Clahsen & Muysken, 1989). Another possibilityis that L2
learnersinitiallyadopt L1 parametersettingsbut, if necessary,at


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certain points in theirdevelopment, reset the parametersto the
values inherentin the L2 (Hulk, 1991).
For now, the question of UG accessibility in SLA is still
unresolved.There is evidence thatthereis at least some accessibility
throughthe learners'L1, althoughthe access may be only partial
(Felix & Weigl, 1991).

Environmentalist: Connectionism/Parallel
AlthoughPDP/connectionistmodels are fairlynew to the field,I
have chosen to discussthembecause of theirstrikingcontrastto the
UG approach, and because some researchers,at least,believe that
theyhave much to offerthe SLA field (Gasser, 1990; Sokolik,1990;
Spolsky, 1988). Sokolik pointsout thatconnectionistprinciplesare
by no means new; what is new is theattemptto build connectionist
models to test theirexplanatorypower in a number of different
fields.PDP theorists(Rumelhart,McClelland, & the PDP Research
Group, 1986a, 1986b) have built computer models of human
cognitionbased on what is knownabout thestructureof thehuman
brain. PDP theoristsassume no innate endowment (although,as
Gasser pointsout,theseresearchersare increasinglyconcernedwith
the initialstate of the networkstheyhave constructed).Learningis
held to consist of the strengtheningof connections in complex
neuralnetworks.The strengthof theirconnectionsor theirweightis
determinedby the frequencyof patternsin the input.
As the inputis encoded, the computerreorganizesitselfto reflect
the new statisticalrelationshipspresentin the input. Afterbeing
presented with a number of correctlymatched input and output
patterns,the computeris presentedwitha novel set of itemsto see
how it generalizesbeyond what it has received as input (Sokolik,
1989). Interestingly, what resultsis performancethatlooks like rule-
governed behavior (some formsare produced correctly,some are
incorrect due to overgeneralizations), but which is simply a
reflectionof the connectionsformed on the basis of the relative
frequencyof patternsin the input. It has also been pointed out,
however, thatsome of the computeroutputis not consonantwith
theperformanceof child L1 learners(i.e., some of theerrorsare not
plausible froma human standpoint[Pinker& Prince,1988]). "One
possibilityis thatL2 learningmay be associativein theconnectionist
sense,whereasL1 acquisitionmay be morerule drivenin the gener-
ative sense" (Sokolik,1989,p. 358). In any event,a model thatlearns
withoutrulesand whichwill accountforat least "some performance


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withoutpostulatingcompetence" (Spolsky,1989,p. 227) clearlyhas
the potentialto forceus to rethinkearlierassumptions.

Anothertheoreticalperspectivewhich would require a reexami-
nationof theperformance/competence distinctionis a model which
attempts to account for the external and internal processes
responsible for SLA (Ellis, 1985). Recall that Tarone (1979)
hypothesized that learnerscontrol a continuumof stylesranging
from a superordinatestyle produced when the speaker pays the
most attentionto form,to a vernacularstyle produced when the
least attentionto formis given. Interlanguagedata, Tarone (1983)
argued, contradictwhat is called the "homogeneous competence"
model of Chomsky, which assumes that there is a homogeneous
competence of an ideal speaker-learneravailable for inspection
throughintuitionaldata. Instead, Tarone interpretsthe IL data to
suggest that learners develop heterogeneouscapability, which is
systematicand whichis composed of a range of styles,and Tarone
maintainsthat the proper data for the study of this capability is
Ellis (1985) is in substantialagreementwith thisposition.Rather
thanviewingvariabilityin thedata at best as an inconvenience,Ellis
places variability at the heart of his model. In the variable
competence model, Ellis hypothesizesthatfreevariationis crucial
because it serves as the impetusfordevelopment.(But see Preston,
1989.) New forms,he believes, firstenter the learner'sIL in the
carefulstyleof speech when learnersare attendingto form.Tarone
(1990) suggests that they may enter the learner's IL due to
conversationalinteractionswith native speakers or possibly due to
social convergence or Sloblin's (1973) operatingprinciples. Once
the learner startsusing them, the new formsare in free variation
with existing forms, the new and the old coexisting without
definablyseparate functions.Because thisstateis in violationof the
efficiencyprinciple (Ellis, 1990b) or Andersen's(1984) one-to-one
principle,a second phase follows. During thisreplacementphase,
learners seek to make maximum communicative use of the L2
resources they have by mapping one form onto one function.
Therefore,each formin a pair is graduallyrestrictedin use, i.e.,
takes on a particularrange of target-and nontargetlikeforms.In
Ellis' model, free variabilityis the force driving development;
systematic variability then comes into play, determiningwhat
subsequentlyhappens to newly acquired items.


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A BroaderView?
The variable competence model rejectsthecustomarydistinction
between competence and performancethatis held to be axiomatic
by UG researchers.It is thisrejectionthathas led Gregg (1990) to
assertthat"variation... is not the dutyof an acquisitiontheoristto
explain" (p. 379). Gregg insiststhata theoryof acquisitionshould
explain the acquisition of a speaker's knowledge, not merely
describe the speaker'soutput.
Tarone (1990) rebutsGregg's criticism,arguingthatresearchon
the acquisitionof competence has notbeen particularlyelucidating
as so much of what is acquired is attributedto an innatecapacity.
Further, acquisition research from the two perspectives has
differentobjectives, Tarone contends. The variationistsseek to
explain how knowledge gets realized as use, whereas those who
prefer a UG approach take as theirobjective an explanation of
competence or grammatical knowledge, "not the ability to do
anything"(Widdowson, 1989,p. 129).
Theoreticalperspectives,therefore,need to be assessed in terms
of theirpurpose (Ellis, 1990b). Clearly, at the current,still early
stage in SLA research,both perspectives(and others)are welcome.
The argument as to whatkindof explanation, mentalistor functional,
bestfitsthefactsis an old one. Doubtlessly,
to come. It is an argumentabout what needs to be explained and what
facts need explaining.Any explanationthat ignores what language is
primarilyfor-communication-is incomplete and, therefore,unsatis-
Butthisdoesnotmeanthatthereareno aspectsoflanguagethat
are purelyformal.Someundoubtedly
areand willneedtobe explained
in termsof abstractlinguisticprinciples.Do we reallyneed to engage in
arguments about the relative merits of formal and functional
explanationsof language?Can we notaccept thatbothare needed?
(Ellis,1990b,p. 390)
Certainly I would concur that multiple perspectives on
acquisition are useful, especially since not all theories can be
expected to do everything (Bialystok, 1990; Long, 1990b).
However, thereis reason to be circumspectin thisregard:Despite
the value of multipleperspectives(see, forexample, Beebe, 1988),
when we borrow perspective from other fields, we inherittheir
problems as well. (For example, UG principleskeep changing,and
withinlinguisticsthe theoreticalstatus of variable rules is under
debate.) Moreover,extanttheoriesare not always complementary,
and we have notyetagreed upon criteriaby whichto evaluate them
( Beretta,in press; Schumann,1983). I would also, therefore,agree
withGass (1989), who notesthatitis importantforthevitalityof the


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field that we establish some common ground regarding the
intellectualbasis and goals of the field. Althoughwe have yet to
achieve complete consensus on these, it seems to me that
definitionalissues are what thesepast two decades of researchhave
been about: stakingout the territory.
Some have suggested we need a general theoryto encompass a
wider area than our theoriesto date (Spolsky, 1989). Others have
suggestedthatwe may have to accept thata theoryof SLA will be
modular, each module explaining differentdomains of language
(Lightbown & White, 1987). Hatch, Shirai, and Fantuzzi (1990)
have called for an integrated theory of acquisition. While
researchersmustof necessityrestrictthescope of theirinvestigation
and usually do so to one domain (most often it has been
morphosyntax, less commonly,phonology;see Ioup & Weinberger,
1987), the dilemmais thateveryonerecognizesthatthedomains are
interrelated(Eisenstein, Bailey, & Madden, 1982; Nunan, 1987;
Pennington,1990; Sato, 1988). To cite just one example of the
problem, Odlin (1989) observes thattransferin one subsystemof
language (lexis,syntax,morphology,etc.) will sometimescondition
its occurrencein othersubsystems.Thus, according to Hatch et al.
(1990), a theorymust include a much broader scope of research
thanthatcenteredon two modules-syntax and phonology.It must
also include semantics,conversationalstructure,event scriptsand
rhetoricalorganization,but it mustdo so in a way thatintegratesthe
modules on the one hand and also allows them to be viewed
separately.It follows,then,"thatan attemptto explain acquisition
by recourseto a singlefactor(forexample motivation,comprehen-
sible input,or theworkingsof an innateLAD [language acquisition
device]) . . . lacks face validity" (Long, 1990b, p. 661). Indeed,
given the complexity of language, why should we expect an
explanationof its acquisitionto be simple (Larsen-Freeman,1991)?
We will returnto thisthemelater,but fornow we shouldconsider
theothermajorfocusin SLA researchto date: thefocuson thelearner.

The question of differential success is one of the major
conundrums of SLA: Why is it that all individuals with normal
faculties successfullyacquire their firstlanguage but meet with
differentdegrees of success when theyattemptto masteran L2? A
related issue is indeed whethercomplete success in acquiringan L2
is even possible when studyis begun beyond a so-called criticalage.
In thissectionI will deal withthe matterof age first,followed by a
brieflook at the othermajor factorswhich have been hypothesized


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to explainthe factsof differential
cognitivestyleand learningstrategies.
ical variables,personality,

As with so much in the fledglingSLA field, the issue of age-
related effectsin SLA is a contestedone-in fact,even theirvery
existenceis controversial.(My sourcesforthissectionare primarily
Long, 1990a, and Larsen-Freeman& Long, 1991, chapter 6.) The
threebooks published in the last few years which explore the link
between age and SLA will serve to illustratethe controversy.The
firstpositionis thatonly children,not adults,can attainnative-like
pronunciationin the L2 (Scovel, 1988a); the second findsthatthe
data are ambiguous or mixed (Singleton,1989). The thirdposition
holds thatolder learnersenjoy an advantage over youngerlearners
(Harley, 1986, reportsevidence showing older learnersare faster
than younger ones). Opinion also varies about the scope of the
alleged effects(only accent or other domains as well?) and the
causes of such effects (affective factors, identity, cognitive
Early on, Krashen,Long, and Scarcella (1979) (see also Krashen,
Scarcella, & Long, 1982) reviewed theliteratureon age differences
in second language acquisition and came to the conclusion that
older learners are initiallyfaster than younger learners when it
comes to the acquisition of morphosyntax;however, younger
learners outperformolder learnersin the long run. According to
Long (1990a), despite the fact that numerous studies have been
conducted since thisearly conclusion,the generalizationseems to
hold, "with the exception of some fuzziness in the area of
phonology" (p. 260).

Obvious to thecasual observeris thefactthatindividualslearnat
differentrates. Not so obvious to even the careful observer,
however, is whetheror not there is a special language learning
aptitudewhich is the source of the difference.Certainlyit has long
been presumed thatthereis such a thingas language aptitude,and
in factthereare severalmajor testswhichare commonlyemployed
to measure it (Carroll, 1981). Some researchers,however, have
questioned the existenceof an innatelinguisticaptitude (Neufeld,
1979). A solutionto the dispute may lie in the distinctionCummins
(1980) makes between cognitive/academiclanguage proficiency
(CALP) and basic interpersonalcommunicationskills (BICS). It


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may be that aptitude tests are a good measure of CALP, or an
individual'sabilityto deal withdecontextualizedlanguage (Skehan,
1982), which is a learned ability, but not a particularlygood
measure of BICS, an innate capacity. The fact that so much
schoolwork involves CALP could explain the predictivepower of
aptitude testson foreignlanguage achievement.This is essentially
Krashen's (1981) position when he proposes that aptitude relates
only to learning,not to acquisition. In a more recent account of
aptitude,however, Skehan (1989) argues thataptitudeplays a role
in both informaland formal acquisition environments.He also
proposes thatthereare different profilesof language aptitude;some
learners possess an analytic aptitude, others are more memory
oriented.Wesche (1981) has shownhow matchinglearners'aptitude
withmethodologycan lead to success, while mismatchingcan have

Social-PsychologicalFactors:Attitudeand Motivation
Along with aptitude,the social-psychologicalfactorsof attitude
and motivation have long been thought to have an important
bearingon language learningsuccess. In 1959 Gardnerand Lambert
were able to identifytwo factorswhich were responsible for the
French proficiencyof Anglophonestudentsof French in Montreal:
aptitudeand a constellationof attitudestowards FrenchCanadians
including motivationalintensityand integrativemotivation.For
Gardner and Lambert (cf. Gardner, 1979), there is actually an
indirectrelationshipbetween attitudeand successfulSLA. Attitudes
affectmotivation,which in turnaffectsSLA.
Since Gardner and Lambert's pioneeringresearch,much work
has been done on refiningthe relationshipamong the constructs.
Justin the area of attitudesalone, for example, learners'parents'
attitudestowards speakers of the TL, attitudesof peers, learners
attitudestoward theirlearningsituation,teachers'attitudestowards
theirstudents,and one's attitudestowards one's ethnicitywere all
studied fortheirinfluenceon SLA.
In the area of motivation,the strengthof learners'instrumental
utilitarianmotive forlearningan L2) versusintegrative(identifica-
tion with L2 group) motivation has been measured to test
predictions of their differentialeffecton L2 learning outcomes.
Differentresearchershave reached differentconclusions about
hypothesized correlations depending upon the learner context;
perhaps the only reliable finding is that the intensityof the
motivationis more importantthanthe type. Clearly more research
is needed on thedifferent influenceson motivation.For example,in


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a studyconducted by Strong(1984) on theacquisitionof Englishby
Spanish-speaking children living in the United States, it was
concluded that motivationdoes not necessarilypromote acquisi-
tion, but ratherstems fromit. The childrenin his study who met
with success became more motivatedto continuetheirstudythan
those who were less successful.

Various personalitytraitshave been thoughtto facilitateor inhibit
SLA: self-esteem (Heyde, 1979), extroversion (Busch, 1982),
reactionto anxiety(Bailey, 1983; MacIntyre& Gardner,1989), risk
taking(Ely, 1986), sensitivityto rejection(Naiman, Froihlich,Stern,
& Todesco, 1978), empathy (Guiora, Brannon, & Dull, 1972),
inhibition (Guiora et al., 1972), and tolerance of ambiguity
(Chapelle & Roberts,1986). Some of these traitshave correlated
positivelywith success in SLA; otherfindingshave been inconclu-
Two generalizationscan be drawnfroma reviewof theliterature.
First, often it appears that the optimal personality"setting"is a
pointmidwaybetween thetwo extremes,i.e., moderateanxietycan
be facilitating(Scovel, 1978); moderate risk takingis linked with
achievement (Beebe, 1983). Second, it is difficultto predict an
individual'sbehaviorin a particularsituationbased on a global trait
measurement.Althoughthereno doubt existsome fairlyconsistent
personalitytraits,more attentionmust be given to the relation
between statesand traits.

Closely aligned with personalityattributesis work on cognitive
styles.A cognitivestyleis the preferredway in which individuals
process informationor approach a task (Willing, 1988). A few
cognitivestyleshave been investigatedfortheirSLA implications:
field independence/dependence, category width, reflectivity/
impulsivity,aural/visual,and analytic/gestalt.
oftenpresentedin thisfashion-as polarities.In actual fact,humans
more commonlyexhibita tendencytoward one pole or the other.
Of the cognitive styles which have been studied, field
independence has most consistentlyshown a significantpositive
correlation with language learning achievement (Chapelle &
Roberts, 1986; Hansen & Stansfield,1981; Tucker, Hamayan, &
Genesee, 1976). One puzzling consequence of thisfindingis that
field dependence is oftenlinked with empathy,and empathyhas


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also been found to be correlated with language learningsuccess.
H. D. Brown (1977) offersa solution:He observes field independ-
ence may be more importantto classroomlearning,whereas field
dependence and empathymay be more beneficialin an untutored
language learningsituation.

The last learnerfactorto be discussedis one whichhas stimulated
much interestrecently.Again,we can look to the numberof books
that have been published as one sign of the vitalityof this area
(H. D. Brown, 1991; Cohen, 1990; O'Malley & Chamot, 1990;
Oxford,1990; Stevick,1989; Wenden & Rubin, 1987).
Rubin (1975) used the term learningstrategiesto referto "the
techniques or devices which a learner may use to acquire
knowledge" (p. 43). Rubin compiled a list of strategiesemployed
by good language learners.For example, good language learners
are willingto guess when theyaren'tsure,attendto both formand
meaning, and monitor their own and others' speech. Following
Rubin's initiative, much of the research has focused upon
identifying and classifyinglearningstrategies.A second focusof the
researchhas been on determiningtheeffectof strategytraining.As
we have seen in otherareas, the resultsare not straightforward. It
seems that the performance of studentstutored in strategiesis
superior to the performanceof studentswith no such training;
however, the degree to which the traininghas been effective
depends on the task, task difficulty,and the level of support for

A Broadeningof Perspective:LearnerFactors
Most of the researchjust reviewed involves simple correlations
between a singleindividualvariable and learnerproficiency.This is
problematic for the same reason that studyingone subsystemof
language cannot fullyilluminateinterrelatedacquisitionprocesses.
As d'Anglejan and Renaud (1985) point out, learner variables
inevitably overlap and interact. Thus, we are likely getting a
distortedpicture if we study one factorin isolation fromothers.
More powerfulmultivariateanalysesexistand should be employed
to examine the relationship among learner factors. (See, for
example, Gradman & Hanania, 1991.) Exacerbatingthe problem is
our awareness that some of these variables may affectlanguage
proficiencyonlyindirectlyas has been postulatedby Gardnerwith
respectto attitudesand L2 learning.


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As Seliger (1984) contends,"whilemanycharacteristics have been
related correlationally to language achievement, we have no
mechanism for deciding which of the phenomena described or
reportedto be carriedout by the learnerare in fact thosethatlead
to language acquisition" (p. 37). Perhaps if our sights were set
higher-aspiring to explainhow learnerfactorsplay a causal role in
the acquisition process-we would be able to identifythe truly
important factors. This is precisely what some theoristslike
Schumannand Gardnerhave attemptedto do.

The Acculturation/Pidginization
Perhaps the earliestmodel to award centralityto learnerfactors
was Schumann'sacculturation/pidginization model (1978a, 1978b).
The model developed from Schumann's observation of the
untutoredacquisitionof Englishby Alberto,a 33-year-old,working-
class Costa Rican living in the Boston area. Alberto lived in a
Portuguese-speaking neighborhoodand worked in a factorystaffed
by NNSs of English. Due to his limited contact with English
speakers,it is not surprisingthatAlbertowas not a verysuccessful
language learner.Schumannexplained Alberto'slimitedacquisition
of Englishby pointingto Alberto'ssocial and psychologicaldistance
from speakers of the TL. Social distance comprises eight group-
level phenomena:social dominance,integrationpatterns,enclosure,
cohesiveness, size, cultural congruence, attitudes,and intended
lengthof residence.Psychologicaldistanceis a constructinvolving
fourfactorsoperatingat thelevel of theindividual:language shock,
cultureshock,motivation,and ego permeability.
Noting the similaritieswhich existed between the social and
psychological dimensions of Alberto's learning context and the
conditions associated with pidginization,Schumann claimed that
the processes underlyingpidginization and the early stages of
naturalisticSLA were analogous. With acculturation(social and
psychologicalproximity),the IL elaborates and develops much as
in creolization.Schumann summarizedhis position by suggesting
thatSLA is one aspect of acculturationand thusthedegree to which
the learneracculturatesto the TL group will controlthe degree to
which the learneracquires the L2.

The SocioeducationalModel
What Schumann labels acculturationis similarin many ways to
Gardner'snotion of integrativeness,
a centralfeatureof Gardner's


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(1985) socioeducationalmodel. Gardner'smodel also confersa high
status on learner factors-attitudesand motivation,in particular.
Also, like Schumann,Gardner emphasizes the social dimensionof
language acquisition:"The acquisitionof a language involvessocial
adjustment.... Languages are acquired in orderto facilitatecom-
munication,eitheractive or passive, withsome culturalcommunity
. Emotional adjustmentsare involved and these are socially
based" (p. 125).
Like theothermodels examinedhere,thesocioeducationalmodel
was not intended to explain all of second language learning. It
purportsto account fora significantand meaningfulproportionof
the variance in second language achievement.If it withstandsthe
test of time, it will certainlyhelp to broaden our perspective on

Despite the broadening in perspectivethathas occurred within
our two foci,furtherexpansionis desirable-and we are beginning
to see signsof it in the SLA field.At the XthUniversityof Michigan
Conferenceon Applied Linguisticsin 1983,I said:

I believethat[questionsaboutlearningand thelearner]shouldnotbe
addressedindependently as theyhavebeen.I thinkitwillnotbe thecase
thatwe willcome to someunderstanding of theSLA processand then
introducelearnervariablesand calculatetheireffecton the process.
Likewise,I thinkwe cannotfullyunderstandwhatinfluences thelearner
apart fromhis or her engagementin the processof learning.(1985,
p. 434)

To cite one example in support of my observation on the

interdependenceof variables, Scarcella's (1990) review of Young's
(1988) work highlightstheir independence: As L2 proficiency
increased, social variables (learner) replaced linguistic ones
(learning)as the more powerfulinfluenceson variation.The use of
plural markersby low-proficiencylearnerswas influencedby the
markers' phonological environments.The performanceof high-
proficiencylearnerswas more likelyto be affectedby the learners
degree of convergence(adjustmentof speech toward) and identifi-
cationwiththeirinterlocutor. We can see how intertwinedare social
and linguisticfactors! (Even UG researchers,who choose to deal
with linguisticfactors only, will have to account for individual
differences in some way. Language acquisition is not only a
linguisticphenomenon.)Also implicitin thisfindingis the dynamic


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quality of the influentialfactors;they do not apply continuously,
but ratheraffectlearnersat different pointsin theirdevelopment.
Krashen,in his monitormodel, recognized the need to take both
learning (the acquisition/learningdistinction) and learner (the
affectivefilter)factorsinto account. More recent evidence of this
trend is Schumann's (1990) attempt to introduce a cognitive
dimensionto his acculturationmodel and Sokolik's(1990) appeal to
PDP models to explainlearnerdifferencesdue to age. I predictthat
increasing numbers of researcherswill accept the challenge of
integratingthese two foci: learningand the learner.
Broadeningour perspectiveto include tutoredacquisitionwould
also be desirable. Most of theresearchto date has dealt withnatural
or untutoredacquisition,as researchershave operated under the
tacit assumptionthatinstructionwas a variable (see, for example,
Schumann,1978c) which could be factoredin afterwe arrivedat
some understandingof the natural process. While it is common
practice when faced with complex systems to deal with one
definable part at a time (Spolsky, 1988), I do not think that
instructioncan be factoredin later,any more than learnerfactors
can be included after we have deciphered the learningprocess.
Thus, researchersshould not limittheirgoals to specifyingwhat is
minimallynecessaryforuntutoredSLA to occur, but rather,work
with teachers in a collaborative manner to help define what is
maximallyeffectivein tutoredacquisition.Besides, we have reason
now to believe that tutored and untutoredacquisition are more
similar than different,at least in terms of exhibitingcommon
developmental sequences (Ellis, 1989; Pienemann, 1984; Wode,
1981) and some, by no means all, common errortypes (Felix &
Simmet,1981; Lightbown,1983; Pica, 1985).
SLA researchhas not directlyansweredquestionsabout teaching,
whichis why a researchagenda is needed forpedagogical concerns
(Larsen-Freeman,1990; Lightbown,1985). Nevertheless,it has, and
should,continueto offerenhancedunderstanding of thelearningpro-
cess and learners(Cohen, Larsen-Freeman,& Tarone, 1991; Cook,
1986; Ellis, 1990a; Hatch, Shirai,& Fantuzzi,1990) and provide ex-
planatorysupportforaccepted teachingpractices(Lightbown,1985).
The next sectionwill distillfromthe researchto date observations
whichshouldbe relevantto teachers,althoughI realizethatthe"rele-
vance residesin theindividual"(G. Brown,1990,p. 156).


There are general characteristicsof the learningprocess and of
language learnersthatteachers should be aware of. I list ten here
and suggestsome pedagogical implicationsforeach.


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1. The learning/acquisition
process is complex. As has been
evident throughoutthis review, simple solutionshave evaded
researchersformore than20 years;I would not expect themin
the future. There are many complex elements in the SLA
puzzle. It is probable thatacquisition/learning
is not monolithic
and that thereare multiplesubprocesses,multipleroutes,and
multiple causes. Teachers, therefore,cannot seek simplistic
solutions.As Spolsky (1988) has written:"Any intelligentand
disinterestedobserverknows thatthereare manyways to learn
languages and many ways to teach them,and thatsome ways
work with some studentsin some circumstancesand fail with
others. (This is why good language teachers are and always
have been eclectic .. . .)" (p. 383).
2. The process is gradual. Learnersdo not masterformswiththeir
first encounter. Even if they start using the form soon
thereafter, the functionforwhich theyuse it mightnot coincide
with its TL use. Acquisitionis a gradual process involvingthe
mapping of form, meaning, and use. Form/functional
correspondencesdo not simplyappear in the IL fullyformed
and error-free.In a pedagogical situation,it makes sense to
recyclethe presentationsof forms(e.g., grammarstructures)so
that learnerswill have ample opportunityto work out form-
functioncorrespondences.A corollaryto this is the acknowl-
edgment that language learning takes time. A conservative
estimateof the numberof hours young firstlanguage learners
spend "acquiring" their first language is 12,000-15,000
(Lightbown, 1985); our expectations of second language
learningshould be realistic.
3. The process is nonlinear.Learnersdo not tackle structuresone
at a time,firstmasteringone and thenturningto another.Even
when learnersappear to have mastereda particularform,it is
not uncommon to findbackslidingoccurringwhen new forms
are introduced,presumablydue to an underlyingrestructuring
(McLaughlin, 1990) which is takingplace. Teachers should not
despair when such behavior is exhibitedby theirstudents,but
should ratherexpect well-formedness to be restoredeventually.
4. The process is dynamic.The factorsthatinfluencethe learner
and the cognitive strategiesthe learner adopts change over
time. As Gleick (1987) put it: "The act of playingthe game has
a way of changingthe rules" (quoted in Diller, 1990, p. 238).
Teachers should know thatwhat worksforlearnersat one level
of proficiencymay not do so when learnersare at a laterstage
of proficiency.


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5. Learners learn when they are ready to do so. What evidence
existssuggeststhatlearnerswill onlyacquire thatforwhichthey
are prepared. One empirically supported explanation was
offered by Pienemann (1985), who demonstrated that
developmental sequences arise from speech processing
constraints.The sequences themselves do not appear to be
alterable throughinstruction,so it may not be realistic for
teachers to expect studentsto masteraspects of the language
which are too far beyond theircurrentstage of development
6. Learners rely on the knowledge and experience they have.
Second language learnersare active participantsin thelearning
process. They rely on what they know (their L1 or other
languages theyhave mastered,or what theyknow of theTL) to
formulatehypotheses.They thentestthese againstthe inputto
whichtheyare exposed, or at least thatpartof itthattheynotice
7. It is notclearfromresearchfindingswhattheroleof negative
evidenceis in helpinglearnersto rejecterroneoushypotheses
theyare currently (Carroll& Swain,1991). It is
intuitivelyappealing, at any rate, to believe that learnerscan
make use of such feedback when it is judicious and they are
ready and have time to digest it (Birdsong, 1989; Schachter,
1991). Anothertentativeconclusionwhich can be drawn is that
a deliberate focus on the formal properties of language or
"consciousnessraising"(Rutherford& Sharwood Smith,1988,
p. 3) does seem to promote accuracy, at least (Lightbown &
Spada, 1990).
8. For most adult learners,complete masteryof the L2 may be
impossible. Learners can get very good, of course, and a few
may even be indistinguishablefromnative speakers in their
command of the L2; however, formost,some aspects of their
IL will likelyfossilizebefore acquisitionis complete,and forall
(nearlyall?), thereappears to be a physiologicallydetermined
critical period for pronunciation.Teachers obviously should
encourage learnersto go as faras theyare capable of going in
theL2, but teachersshouldalso be realisticin theirexpectations.
9. There is tremendous individual variation among language
learners.Teachers need to take into account these differences
and learn to work with them in the classroom-herein lies the
of teaching.


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10. Learninga languageis a socialphenomenon.
no means all) learners seek to acquire a second language in
order to communicate with members of the TL group or to
participate in theirinstitutions.Much of what happens in the
classroom, too, is attributable to the social needs of the
participants,both studentsand teachers(Breen, 1985; Prahbu,
As I have indicated above, none of these generalizations
shouldbe startling to teachers,norare theyprecise enoughto be
prescriptive. They might fit more into the category of
expanding awareness or affirmingcustomarypractice. What is
important is that teachers integrate these and any other
generalizationsdistilledfromresearchinto theirown experien-
tial frameworkin guiding theirdecisions as teachers (Scovel,

In an editorialI wroteforLanguage Learningin 1980,I described
the field of SLA in transitionfrominfancyto adolescence. In 1985
I wrote in the same journal that SLA had arrived at older
adolescence-surer of itself as a separate discipline while still
enjoyingthe vigor of youth.If I may be permittedto extend the
analogy once again, I would have to say thatdevelopmentallySLA
has enteredyoung adulthood. Mattersof identityshould no longer
be of central concern. As the field enjoys the privileges of
adulthood, however, we must also remember the responsibility
which accompanies privilege.Forced to adopt a narrowperspec-
tive in our research due to practical constraints,we need to
acknowledge the limitationsof our points of view. What I hope
researcherswill be able to achieve is what teachers must also
accomplish: preserving a detailed focus on the particular or
individual,while simultaneouslyholdingthe whole.

I am gratefulto the skillfuleditingof Sandra Silberstein.


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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Diane Larsen-Freeman is a SeniorFacultyMemberin theMAT Programat the
Training inBrattleboro,
VT. HerbooksincludeDiscourse
Analysisin Second LanguageResearch(NewburyHouse, 1980),The Grammar
Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher'sCourse(withM. Celce-Murcia, NewburyHouse,
1983),Techniquesand Principles inLanguageTeaching(OxfordUniversityPress,
1986), and An Introduction to Second LanguageAcquisitionResearch(with
M. Long,Longman,1991).Dr. Larsen-Freeman was EditorofLanguageLearning
from1980to 1985.

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Abbs, B., & Freebairn,I. (1990). Blue- Barton,D., & Ivanic, R. (Eds.). (1991).
printone (Teacher's Book). Harlow, Writingin the community.Newbury
England: Longman. Park,CA: Sage.
Abbs, B., & Freebairn,I. (1991). Blue- Bialystok,E. (1990). Communication
printtwo (Student'sBook). Harlow, strategies:A psychological analysis
England: Longman. of second-language use (Applied
Acklam, R. (1990). Think firstcertifi- Language Studies Series). Oxford,
cate self-studyguide. Harlow, Eng- England: Basil Blackwell.
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Graded grammar practice for ele- bridge: Cambridge UniversityPress.
mentarystudents.Harlow, England: Blackmore,R. D. (1991). Lorna Doone
Longman. (Longman Classics) (Simplified by
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Graded grammar practice for ele- Boston,MA: St. Martin'sPress.
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Longman. report:Cross-validationof a propor-
Allsop, J. (1991). PenguinEnglish tests tional item response curve model.
(Book 4). London: PenguinEnglish. Princeton,NJ: Educational Testing
Allsop, J.(1991). PenguinEnglish tests Service.
(Book 5). London: PenguinEnglish. Brause, R. S., & Mayher, J. (Eds.).
Allsop,J. (1991). The Penguinbook of (1991). Search and re-search:What
elementaryvery shortstories. Lon- the inquiringteacherneeds to know.
don: PenguinEnglish. Hampshire, England: The Falmer
Allwright,D., & Bailey, K. M. (1991). Press.
Focus on thelanguage classroom:An Brookes, A., & Grundy, P. (1990).
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for language teachers. Cambridge: teachers guide to developing indi-
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Austen,J. (1991). Pride and prejudice Cambridge UniversityPress.
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Burke, D. (1991). Street talk: How to Hall, N., & Shepheard, J. (1991). The
speak and understandAmerican grammarbook. Har-
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Rost, M. (1990). Listeningin language eighty days (Longman Classics)
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Teaching English to children. Har- language teachers: A reflectiveap-
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learningstyles.Syracuse:New Read- Harlow, England: Longman.
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REFERENCE GUIDES Bilingual,ESOL and Foreign Language

Teacher Preparation:Models, Practices,
DirectoryofProfessional PreparationPro-
grams in TESOL in the United States, Issues. JohnF. Fanselow and RichardL.
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graphical listingsof more than 11,000 Coherence in Writing:Research and
commercial,and individual
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members.$5.00. and Ann M. Johns,editors. Interpreta-
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A Worldof Books: An AnnotatedReading
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titleson varioussubjectsand levelsto assist and understandingcoherence and the
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Selected Articles From the TESOL
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1983. Sale $5.00. ISBN 0-318-18069-3 ISBN 0-939791-36-6


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Research in Reading in English as a CLASSROOM PRACTICES
Second Language. JoanneDevine, Patri-
Classroom Practices in Adult ESL.
cia L. Carrell, and David E. Eskey,
editors. Views of reading as an interac- Donna Ilyin and Thomas Tragardh,
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Content in Higher Education. Sarah
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TESTING Honolulu.
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ciency Tests.J.Charles Alderson,Karl J. William Rutherford,editors. 1981 in
Krahnke, and Charles W. Stansfield, Detroit.
editors. Descriptive and evaluative
information on themajor ESL/EFL tests On TESOL '76. JohnF. Fanselow and
used worldwide,includingmore than40 Ruth H. Crymes, editors. 1976 in New
reviews. 1987. $16.50 ($15.00). ISBN York City.
On TESOL '74. Ruth Crymes and
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Technology and Language Testing. Denver.
Charles W. Stansfield, editor. New
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Statementof Core Standards for Lan- The Acquisitionand Use of Spanish and
guage and Professional Preparation English as Firstand Second Languages.
Programs.1985. Roger W. Andersen,editor.Colloquium
papers from TESOL 1978 in Mexico
Guidelines for the Certification and
City. Reg. $6.50 Sale $3.00.
Preparation of Teachers of English to
Speakers of Other Languages in the
United States. 1976.
All papers: single copies, $1.00 each; The Construct Validation of Tests of
multiplecopies in groupsof 10 for$5.00. CommunicativeCompetence. AdrianS.
Palmer, Peter J. M. Groot, and George
A. Trosper, editors. Papers from the
Resolutions Adopted by the TESOL 1979TestingColloquium in Boston.Reg.
Membership at Legislative Assemblies, $6.50 Sale $3.00.
1971 to Present. 8%" x 11", 3-hole
punched with covers, shrink-wrapped.
TESOL NEWSLETTER The Human Factors in ESL. James E.
SUPPLEMENTS Alatisand RuthCrymes,editors.Collec-
tion of papers by ESOL experts:Finoc-
TESOL Newsletter: 21st Anniversary
chiaro on the teacher, Paulston on
Issue. More than20 articles,includingan
communicativecompetence,Tucker on
ESOL bare-bonesbibliography,stateof
innovative approaches, Burt on error
the art, early historyof TESOL, facts
and faces in TESOL, and more. April, analysis,and more.1977. Reg. $5.00 Sale
1987. $3.00. $3.00.

Computer-AssistedLanguage Learning.
14 articles covering various aspects of
CALL. February,1986. $2.50.
A Handbook of Bilingual Education
Writingand Composition. 9 articleson (Rev. Ed.). MurielR. Savilleand Rudolph
ESL writingand composition,plus tips C. Troike. Specific suggestionsfor de-
for writingteachers and a brief list of and evaluationof bilin-
books and journals. February, 1984. gual programs.1978.Sale $3.00.

\ Dialogue Journal Writing with Nonnative English

Speakers: A Handbook for Teachers,JoyKreeftPeyton
and Leslee Reed. This comprehensivehandbook offers
practicaladvice in an easy-to-useformatfreeof jargon.It
is recommended for teachers of nonnative English-
speaking students in mainstream, bilingual, or ESL
programs,fromkindergarten throughhighschool. It also
has directapplication to native English-speaking,gifted
and talented, learningdisabled, and special education
students.1990. $9.95 ($6.95). ISBN 0-939791-37-4


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Back Issues of the TESOL Quarterly
Identifyyourselectionby volume and number:
TQ 10:2 means volume 10,number2.
Numbers from1968-1989cost $8.00 each:
1968 Vol. 2, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1974 Vol. 8, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1976 Vol. 10, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1978 Vol. 12, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1979 Vol. 13, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1980 Vol. 14, nos. 1, 2, 3
1981 Vol. 15, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1982 Vol. 16, nos. 3, 4
1983 Vol. 17, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1984 Vol. 18, nos. 1, 2, 3
1985 Vol. 19, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1986 Vol. 20, nos. 2, 3, 4
1987 Vol. 21, nos. 1, 2, 3
1988 Vol. 22, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1989 Vol. 23, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
1990 Vol. 24, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
Special price forall volumeslistedabove (2-24) $250.00
(Individuallythesevolumes would cost $432.00)
Issues not listedabove are no longerin print.They may
be obtainedfrom:
300 NorthZeeb Road
Ann Arbor,MI 48106

Back Issues of the TESOL Newsletter

Individual issues from1978-1989cost $3.00 each:
1978 Vol. 12, (5 issues) 1985 Vol. 19, (6 issues)
1979 Vol. 13, (3 issues) 1986 Vol. 20, (2 issues)
1980 Vol. 14, (1 issue) 1987 Vol. 21, (6 issues)
1981 Vol. 15, (6 issues) 1988 Vol. 22, (6 issues)
1982 Vol. 16, (5 issues) 1989 Vol. 23, (6 issues)
1983 Vol. 17, (6 issues) 1990 Vol. 24, (6 issues)
1984 Vol. 18, (6 issues)
Volumes of the TESOL Quarterlyand TESOL
Newsletter from the currentyear are available
only withmembershipin TESOL.


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Quantity Title Unit Price Total Price

Mail your order to: TESOL Publications,

1600 Cameron Street, Suite 300, Alexan- Tonil
dria, Virginia 22314-2751
Creditcard ordersby fax:703-836-7864,
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* Established
programs andcurricula
* ELSItrained

Sm C I * Yearroundopenings
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E (800)468-8978

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In threevolumes

"i -
JoanMorley fli~j

A three-volumepronunciationprogram
focusingon consonantsand prosodicsfor
the intermediate-to-advanced
ESL student.


paper $7.95 ~rs~ti~

paper $16.95

paper $12.95

A Guide forNonnative Speakers of English Readings forStudents of English as a
Ann Wennerstrom Second Language

An innovativeapproachthatcombinesa George M. Jacobsand Michael A. Power

workbookand video fortraininginternational A readingtextforbeginning/low intermediate
teachingassistants. studentsofEnglishas a second language.
paper $17.95 paper $9.95
video $225.00

Mary C. Spaan
Myra Shulman A self-studymanual forthosepreparingto
An advanced ESL textpresentingtimely take the MichiganEnglishLanguageAssess-
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forSpecial Purposesseries. set ofbook and cassette $32.50
paper $15.95
paper $4.95


MICHIGANDept. SF AnnArbor,Michigan48106-1104

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Ball StateUniversity


M. A. in TESOL

M.A. in Linguistics

Ph.D. in English(AppliedLinguistics)



For information
and applicationswriteto:

Director of Graduate Programs

Departmentof English
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306-0460 USA

Telephone: (317) 285-8415

For informationon intensiveEnglish courses forinternationalstudents,writeto Director,Intensive

English Institute,Departmentof English, Ball State University,Muncie, IN 47306-0460 USA.

InternationalConferenceon Englishfor ProfessionalCommunication

March26, 27, 28, 1992

Organised byDepartment ofHongKong
Deadlineforabstracts:November30, 1991
The goals oftheconference are to examinethescope andparameters ofEnglishforProfessional
Communication (EPC) in secondor foreignlanguagesettings,
to discussapproachesto theteachingofEPC,
and to examineareasofrelatedresearch.
Abstracts(250 words) forpapers and workshopsare invitedwhichaddress thefollowingareas:
- teachingEnglishforprofessionalpurposes
- issuesin cross-cultural
discourseand genreanalysisin professional
secondlanguagecommunication in theworkplace
issuesin organizational
- designofcurriculum and instructional
- teachereducationin EPC

Abstractsshould be sentto:
Conferenceon EnglishforProfessional
c/oDepartment ofEnglish,
CityPolytechnicofHong Kong,
83 Tat Chee Avenue,
Kowloon,Hong Kong

Fax: (852) 788 8894 City Polytechnic

Tel: (852) 788 8850 of Hong Kong

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Teachers ofOther
ofEnglish Inc.

TESOL Membership
Application TESOL

Membership in TESOL includesa subscription

to theTESOL Quarterly (fourissuesannually)and to
TESOL Matters(sixissuesannually).Membership alsobringsdiscountedratesforTESOL Conventions
andformostTESOL publications. Membershipis requiredfortheTESOL Placement Senrvice.
You are encouragedto joinup to of
three TESOL' s sectionsand receivetheirnewvsletters
interest at no









Pleasecheck: 0 New 0 Renewal (ID No. 001-0000-


Membership (Pleasecheck)
Individual $ 42.00 O
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Subtotal ............................................
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* Students arerequiredto provideverification of mlinimum half-time study.Participation is limitedto3




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ofMaterials theU.S.andTerritories
(You mustselecta postalsurchargefromthethreecategories. The minimum chargefordelivery is now
1) Bulkmail(Quarterly and TESOL Matters)........................................ $ 2.00 0
2) Bulkmail(Quarterly) andFirstClassmail(TESOL Matters) 4.00 0
......................................... 9.00 0
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Matters).......................... ......................
ForDelivery Outside
ofM'aterials theU.S.
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sectioninwhichyouwishto becomeactiveand vote.Write1 nextto it.Selectone or
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formtogether to:
Alexandria, 22314-2751
Virginia USA


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TOF Research
A VitalResource
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''D 'I 0'
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An integratedapproach to build
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