Critical Issues in Applied Linguistics. From Tradition to Computer Assisted Language Teaching and Learning

Textbook, 2018

85 Pages


Table of Contents

Part 1: Traditional Language Teaching and Learning
Chapter 1: History of Language Teaching
Chapter 2: Feedback in Writing
Chapter 3: Monolingual Fallacy
Chapter 4: Concept Mapping
Chapter 5: Teaching Pronunciation
Chapter 6: Word Class Effects

Part 2: Computer Assisted Language Teaching and Learning
Chapter 7: Computer Assisted Language Learning
Chapter 8: Writing and Feedback through CALL
Chapter 9: Listening Comprehension through CALL
Chapter 10: Reading Comprehension through CALL
Chapter 11: Attitudes towards Social Networking Sites
Chapter 12: Digital Game-Based Language Learning
Chapter 13: Technology in Primary Education

Part 1: Traditional Language Teaching and Learning

Chapter 1: History of Language Teaching

The notion of teaching methods has had a long history in language teaching, as it is witnessed by the rise and fall of a variety of methods throughout the recent history of language teaching (Richars & Renandya, 2002). According to Stern (1983), knowing the history of language teaching is helpful to our understanding of language teaching theories. For example, when we read a book or an article on language pedagogy, it makes much more sense to us if we have the necessary background knowledge.

The history of language teaching has been dominated by the upward progression of teaching methods. Much of language teaching prior to the twentieth century was conducted according to a so called grammar translation methodology, which was replaced by a revolution in language teaching that focused on the Direct Method. This was then followed by a series of methods that started with Audiolingualism, developed during and after world war two. Following these methods, several methods, including audio-visual method, cognitive code, and a cluster of new methods that emerged in the 1970s such as the silent way, suggestopedia, Total Physical Response, Communicative language teaching and Task-based learning were introduced.

Van-Essen (2000) maintains that there are several problems with this upward, progressive definition for the history of teaching methods. It ignores large domains of language teaching, such as which languages get taught, as suggested above. Moreover, since this definition presents an upward path of development, from weaker methods to more modern teaching, it suggests a problematic progressivism. It can be implied that whatever is happening now is presumed to be superior to what happened before. Such claims are often made by contrasting a modern ‘scientific approach to the study of language and of language learning’ with a past guided only by tradition (Richards & Rogers, 2001). However, as Kelly (1969) suggests, the history of language teaching has been far more cyclical than linear: Nobody really knows what is new or what is old in present language teaching procedures.

Musumeci (2009) asserts that in characterizing the history of second language teaching, one can not presume that actual teaching practice at any time given was monolithic or unchangeable. For example, even with today's emphasis on experimentation and data-driven research, the contemporary literature contains few detailed accounts of actual classroom behavior. In other words, a teachers' implementation of a method, is subject to variation.

Therefore, how is it possible to accurately reconstruct practice in past centuries?

In addition, the philosophical treaties, letters to princes and nobles which constitute much of the historical record focus mainly on reform with the purpose of demonstrating the negative points leading to unsatisfactory outcomes (Musumeci, 2009). Reformists and their proponents select the worst-case scenarios to provide evidence for their argument; that is, they referred to the required changes rather than the effective or beneficial points. Reformers do not need any evidence or proof to convince the readers.

Although the need to learn foreign languages is almost as old as human history itself, the origins of modern language education has its roots in the study and teaching of Latin. 500 years ago Latin was the dominant language of education, commerce, religion and government in much of the Western world. Latin was very much the equivalent of English in today's world, although it was not the first language of anyone who used Latin.

Religion had a strong influence on education, including the teaching of language. Until almost the twelfth century, formal education in Western Europe took place in churches. Cathedral schools trained clergy in law, preaching and disputation (the ability to defend a position by oral logical argumentation). In the seventeenth century, other than religious schools that trained boys for the clergy, education of children was limited to the elite with the help of tutors. Accordingly, the elite children that have mastered the basic literacy in Latin under the tutor's guidance could study the liberal arts. Liberal arts like logic and rhetoric strengthen the mind. At the university, Latin was the initial core subject as well as the medium of instruction. All lectures, readings, and discussions took place in Latin. Latin was the ordinary means of communication inside and outside of the class, and students were penalized in using the vernacular.

Since Latin was neither the first nor the preferred language for everyday communication and the entire curriculum was based on Latin, strict rules were applied to force students to use it. Therefore Latin was the lingua franca. However, they ignored the fact that oral proficiency is best acquired in meaningful communications.

Attempts have been made to help learners speak in Latin. But, the spoken Latin could not prevent the rising tide of vernacular languages, which was the common system of communication. Even parents of university students complaint about the waste of time and money on learning a language that has no practical purpose.

As a result, the utility of Latin faded gradually and extinguished with the availability of printing press in 1440. The vernacular translations of the Bible were available. It was for the first time that one's first language could ensure success in the affairs of this world.

One century after the invention of the printing press, a prestigious program of education set academic standards for foreign language instruction. Jesuits established a system of education which was famous for the intellectual rigor and strict discipline. Jesuits accepted the brightest students into the school and suggested that there is a link between intelligence and foreign language aptitude.

In this school, the whole of the grammar was presented in the first year or even in only half a year. But few students with extraordinary intelligence benefited from this practice and were able to proceed to the study of content in the second year. There was a review of the grammar in the next years until the material had been mastered. In teaching grammar, everything was explicitly taught.

In this school, language classes consisted of: (1) the recitation of memorized passages, (2) a review of previous lessons, (3) a lecture, (4) a dictation, and (5) the presentation of new grammatical points. The teachers first read the entire passage and then translate in vernacular. Then, from the beginning of the text, the teacher explains the structure of each sentence. The medium of instruction was the vernacular or the first language to ensure comprehension on the part of the students. This method had later come to be characterized as Grammar-Translation Method.

Grammar-translation method was based on the method of studying Latin and Greek. The language teaching method emphasized the teaching of formal grammatical rules and translating foreign language written texts into one’s mother tongue with detailed grammatical analysis. It is the earliest method of foreign language teaching, employed mainly when studying and reading academic literature. It was initially called the Grammar method and could also be called the Translation method, Classical method, Traditional method or Reading method.

The actual purpose of language learning was to train the faculties of the brain, and produce scholars. The learning of a foreign language was considered an intellectual discipline. People believed that Latin and Greek were the repositories of ancient civilization (Newby, 2000). It was considered a matter of prestige to know the two languages.

Because Latin and Greek were taught through the Grammar-translation method only, it became very natural that the first foreign language teaching method imitates the same principles. Furthermore, there was no other foreign language teaching method generally known at the time (Howatt, 2004).

According to Rivers (1972), grammar rules are introduced at the beginning, followed by written exercises and a bilingual vocabulary list. At the end of the vocabulary list, construction of sentences and later paradigm texts are taught with grammatical analysis, followed by translation. Each grammatical point is explained in detail and illustrations are given in plenty. The students are expected to memorize the rules of grammar.

The Reform Movement, which is usually connected with the development of modern language teaching principles during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, has to be seen as a reaction against the traditional Grammar-Translation method. There were innovations especially with respect to the teaching of pronunciation and grammar as well as to methods and visual and aural materials.

From 1880s, practical mined linguists such as Henry Sweet, William Vietor, and Paul Passy tried to give greater acceptance to reformist ideas (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). William Vietor claimed that foreign language teaching should be modernized by a more natural and pupil centered approach. He criticized the old grammar-translation method.

The best-known innovation called for by Viëtor’s essay was that of a monolingual principle in foreign language teaching which led to the so-called Direct method. Thus the foreign language as the normal means of classroom communication should provide the basis of instruction, and oral skills should enable the pupils to use the foreign language as a means of understanding and producing sentences in everyday situations (Nesi, 2000).

A great number of the founders of the Reform Movement were linguists, who in the beginning gave priority to phonetics (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). The (IPA) International Phonetic Alphabet was founded in 1886 and provided the basis not only for research work but also for the training of pronunciation in foreign language classes. Special courses were designed for the first weeks of language learning. The students should train their ears, their organs of speech, and undertake phonetic transcriptions. As teachers had to be well trained in phonetics, too, they were expected to have travelled to the foreign countries, and native speakers were asked to assist in foreign language classes. Great phoneticians have assisted in the improvement of FLT. The name of Henry Sweet deserves to be mentioned in this connection (Nesi, 2000).

Henry Sweet (1899, cited in Richards & Rodgers, 2001, p. 10) argued that methodological principles should be based on a scientific analysis of language and a study of psychology. He set forth principles for the development of a teaching method:

- Careful selection of what is to be taught;
- Imposing limits on what is to be taught;
- Arranging what is to be taught in terms of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing; and
- Grading materials from simple to complex.

Nesi (2000) believes that the most significant change that was caused by the Reform Movement, however, was a new way of teaching of grammar. The reformers claimed that there was a natural order in learning languages, namely speaking, reading, writing and finally grammar. The old deductive way of learning grammar was now replaced by an inductive or analytic one. Single or disconnected sentences were no longer used to teach the grammar, but texts that meant something. Thus, the pattern of textbooks gradually took a different pattern.The reading passages consisted mainly of simple, modern texts which were designed to introduce the pupils an understanding of the life and customs of the foreign people (Titone, 1968, cited in Nesi, 2000). Therefore, texts were important in two ways: pupils should get a general education by the contents, and they should comprehend grammar rules by analyzing forms and functions. Written and oral dialogues and even conversational exercises became important for applying and transferring the findings. Since then foreign language teaching has always also been direct language experience and the transfer of semantic concepts into forms of language.

Comenius wrote two textbooks for learning languages. In his book titled Janua Linguarum Reserata, he presented 8,000 common Latin words in progression from the shortest, most simple constructions in early chapters to more complex constructions in the latter chapters. In line with the notion that instruction in language and content should proceed simultaneously, each chapter deals with one class of phenomena such as fire, disease, trade, and etc. In his book, he made use of illustrations and pictures. He believed that teaching must be meaningful and that language, in particular a foreign language, can only be meaningful if it refers to reality. Consequently, language teaching must go together with the teaching of reality (Cherrington, 2000). Therefore, the importance of realia in language teaching was noted by Comenius in 1658 (Hullen, 2000).

This realistic approach to language learning led to a special use of visual and aural media. The direct method supports the view that vocabulary must be introduced through demonstration, objects and pictures. In the period 1920–60 the oral approach and situational language teaching both advocated that the teacher used board drawing and flashcards to make up for the distinct lack of illustrations in the textbooks (Hullen, 2000).

By the end of the nineteenth century educationists had shared a common belief that pupils learn a language by listening to it and also by speaking it. According to those beliefs, a child could acquire the foreign language in the same way as they learned their first language. Scholars (mostly French and German scholars at the first stage) believed that the learning of a foreign language was similar to that of first language acquisition. Direct association of foreign words by connecting them with the concepts of the outside world was emphasized in the method (Holitzer, 2000).According to Stern (1983), the direct method can be partly attributed to practical unconventional teaching reformers Berlitz and Gouin.

Francois Gouin described his learning difficulties of German. Living in Hamburg for one year, he attempted to master the German language by memorizing a German grammar book and a list of the 248 irregular German verbs, instead of conversing with the natives. Then he went to the University to test his knowledge.But, he could not understand a word! After his failure, he decided to memorize the German roots, but with no success. Upon returning to France, Gouin discovered that his three-year-old nephew had managed to become a chatterbox of French - a fact that made him think that the child held the secret to learning a language. Thus, he began observing his nephew and came to the conclusion that language learning is a matter of using language to accomplish events consisting of a sequence of related actions (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). It was against this background that the Series Method was created, which taught learners directly a "series" of connected sentences that are easy to understand.

Nevertheless, this approach to language learning was short-lived and, only a generation later, gave place to the Direct Method.

This method of language teaching developed in the United States and was dominant in the 1960s. It is based on structural linguistics and behaviorist psychology and emphasizes the learning of spoken language (Birjandi, et al., 2004). It was initially called the aural-oral method. Language is presented in the order ‘hearing-speaking-reading-writing’.

The outbreak of World War II heightened the need for Americans to become orally proficient in the languages of their allies and enemies alike. To this end, bits and pieces of the Direct Method were appropriated in order to form and support this new method, the "Army Method," which came to be known in the 1950s as the Audiolingual Method.

The Army Specialized Training Program created intensive programs based on the techniques Leonard Bloomfield and other linguists devised for Native American languages, where students interacted intensively with native speakers and a linguist in guided conversations designed to decode its basic grammar and learn the vocabulary. This "informant method" had great success with its small class sizes and motivated learners. The Army Specialized Training Program only lasted a few years, but it gained a lot of attention from the popular press and the academic community.

In A-L method, language is considered as behavior. Learning a language is learning how to behave rather than learning how to explain its grammar, and behavior is best learned through the formation of appropriate habits which can be over-learned to the point of becoming automatic by frequent imitation of the teacher or a recorded voice and memorization of dialogues or key sentences. This was called the ‘mim-mem’ method (Herman-Brennecke, 2000).

Rivers (1968) believes that Grammar-translation method is not successful not too demanding on the part of teachers. Furthermore historical accounts of the status of teacher in Grammar-Translation Method indicate that the average language teacher was seldom held in such high esteem. Although grammar was the cornerstone of the entire curriculum, grammar teachers were disregarded. Teachers were pompous, ridiculous figures who were excessively concerned with accuracy and formal rules (Musumeci, 2009).

The fact that language teaching in the schools was held in the lowest regard is evident from the following excerpt from a teacher in Jesuit school (Musumeci, 2009, p. 57):

Relive me of the care of the others, take away my preaching and my study, leaving me only my breviary, and bid me come to Rome, begging my way, and there put me to work in the kitchen, or serving table, or in the garden, or at anything else. And when I am no longer good for any of this, put me in the lowest class of grammar and that until death, without anymore care for me… than you have for an old broom.

To underscore the status of the language teacher, Jesuits proposed that advanced students be used to instruct the language classes, freeing professors to teach more the prestigious subject matter.

In Comenius ' instructional framework, which led to the Direct Method, the teacher is the single source of knowledge. Students are like blank tablets on which the teacher writes or paints knowledge. Therefore, the teacher is entirely responsible for the students ' failure to learn. However, Comenius believes that the teacher is like an organist who can read any piece of music from his notes but cannot compose it. Therefore, in this framework, materials play an important role and this emphasis on materials reduces the teacher to a technician who simply puts the plan into action, but has no role in its design. The proverb those who can, do; those who can't teach comes to mind (Musumeci, 2009).

To put an end, the field of second and foreign language teaching has been constantly in a state of change. For example, the new curriculum frameworks apply principles of competency-based, genre-based, and content-based models. According to Richards (2009), our field is very receptive to new ideas and practices. We have seen that new ideologies such as critical pedagogy or learner-centeredness influenced our profession; innovations such as task-based instruction. The 20th century has faced the rise and fall of teaching methods and approaches ranging from Audio-lingual Method to Communicative Language Teaching. However, as a result of the pervasive dissatisfaction with the conventional concept of method, Kumaravadivelu (1994) identified what he called the 'postmethod condition’ (p.43).

Although each method was eagerly applied in the period in which they were devised, all of them were replaced by another in succession. Tosun (2009) provided two sensible reasons: (1) the academic concern to renew or further the methodology in Foreign Language Teaching (FLT) towards a better condition, and (2) some political reasons consistent with what Pennycook argues. Concerning the first reason, Tosun (2009, p. 1) says that quantitative research findings may be regarded as a facilitator. During the last 25 years or so, to some extent, they gave a "tangible compass so far as to revoke a current method and invent another; even though statistical analyses were conflicting from time to time". The second probable reason is relatively new. A collection of methods as a new trend is not acceptable. Undeniably, today, we are "refusing a considerable period of our language teaching history irrespective of the millions of people who were taught through so – called obsolete methodology".

Stern (1983) also mentions that there have been several developments in language pedagogy that signify a shift from the concept of the method as the main approach to language teaching. One such development was the failure, on the part of researchers, to find any significant advantage in one method over another. As Richards (1990) noted, 'studies of the effectiveness of specific methods have had a hard time demonstrating that the method itself, rather than other factors, such as the teacher’s enthusiasm, or the novelty of the new method, was the crucial variable' (p. 36).

Kumaravadivelu (1994) identified what he called the 'postmethod condition', a result of 'the widespread dissatisfaction with the conventional concept of method' (p. 43). This shift of attention from method has been called "beyond method" era. The beyond method era was the result of the tradition prevailing in the method era; that is, the construction of a new method "at the expense of the total negation of past methods" (Pennycook, 1989, cited in Kumaravadivelu, 1994 ). Beyond method is based on the claim that the notion of good or bad method per se is misguided, and that the search for an inherently best method should be replaced by a search for the ways for the interaction of teachers' and specialists' pedagogic perceptions. All of these claims boil down to what is called teacher plausibility.

Moreover, Richards (1984) claims that language-teaching methods have a secret life. The secret is related to the fact that methods have a life beyond the classroom; the rise and fall of methods depends upon a large variety of factors extrinsic to the method itself. These factors often reflect (1) the trends and fashions of profit-seekers and promoters, and (2) the forces of the intellectual market place.

Kumaravadivelu (2001, p. 537) argues that post-method pedagogy must:

(a) facilitate the advancement of a context-sensitive language education based on a true understanding of local linguistic, sociocultural, and political particularities;
(b) rupture the reified role relationship between theorists and practitioners by enabling teachers to construct their own theory of practice; and
(c) tap the sociopolitical consciousness that participants bring with them in order to aid their quest for identity formation and social transformation.

Kumaravadivelu (2001, p. 538) indicates that a post-method pedagogy is a three-dimensional system consisting of three pedagogic parameters of "particularity, practicality, and possibility". By particularity, he aimed to say that if language pedagogy is to be relevant, it must be "sensitive to a particular group of teachers teaching a particular group of learners pursuing a particular set of goals within a particular institutional context embedded in a particular socio-cultural milieu". The notion of practicality here does not concern merely the everyday practice of classroom teaching. It is related to a much larger issue that has a direct impact on the practice of classroom teaching, specifically, the relationship between theory and practice. A pedagogy of practicality attempts to "overcome some of the deficiencies inherent in the theory-versus-practice, theorists'-theory- versus-teachers'-theory dichotomies by encouraging and enabling teachers themselves to theorize from their practice and practice what they theorize (Kumaravadivelu, 2001, p. 541). In other words, a pedagogy of practicality aims for a teacher-generated theory of practice. Finally, the pedagogy of possibility which is derived from the works of Paulo Freire, highlights the students and teachers' position. It is the manifestation of a critical approach emphasizing the role of teaching in identity formation and social transformation.

Rather than subscribe to a single set of procedures, post-method teachers adapt their approach in accordance with local, contextual factors, while at the same time being guided by a number of 'macro-strategies'. Two such macro-strategies are 'Maximize learning opportunities' and 'Promote learner autonomy' Kumaravadivelu (1994, p. 43)

The post method condition, as Kumaravadivelu (1994) defines it, is a descriptive, open-ended set of options, and an interim plan to be continually modified, expanded, and enriched by classroom teachers. The post method framework suggests that teachers should foster the following ten macro-strategies (p. 32):

- Maximize learning opportunities.
- Facilitate negotiated interaction.
- Minimize perceptual mismatches.
- Activate intuitive heuristics.
- Foster language awareness.
- Contextualize linguistic input.
- Integrate language skills.
- Promote learner autonomy.
- Raise cultural consciousness.
- Ensure social relevance.

Salmani-Nodoushan (2006) points out that the beyond method era is subdivided into two periods of the effective teaching period, and the reflective teaching period. In the effective teaching period, teachers practice what applied linguists suggest while in the reflective teaching period, teachers theorize and then practice their own theories.

However, I believe that it would not be wise to disregard all methods totally merely for providing a sound ground for the new bringing of the present occurrences. It is always quite possible that these current obsolete minor characters can be the major ones in the post – post method condition again.

The notion of teaching methods has had a long history in language teaching, as it is witnessed by the rise and fall of a variety of methods throughout the recent history of language teaching (Richars & Renandya, 2002). According to Stern (1983), knowing the history of language teaching is helpful to our understanding of language teaching theories. For example, when we read a book or an article on language pedagogy, it makes much more sense to us if we have the necessary background knowledge. Thus, EFL teachers should know the history of English language teaching in order to have a better understanding of teaching theories and being a better reflective practitioner. Also, teachers should get familiar with the basic assumptions of the post-method era to become reflective practitioners.


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Chapter 2: Feedback in Writing

Feedback has a long history in educational systems (Keh, 1990). Kehhas defined feedback as returning the results of the learners’ functioning to the learners, their parents, and educational system. The teacher’s giving feedback is a process which makes students aware of the way they learn and helps them to correct their mistakes. Feedback refers to the response that learners receive regarding the language they produce (Van Patten & Benati, 2010). Feedback, as Ferm Lange (2009) puts it, is a natural part of language that we use to clarify the meaning of what we say, and to help ourselves and others understand what we mean, by asking questions. She believes that in mother tongue, feedback is a natural process to which we normally do not give much thought. In a foreign language classroom, on the other hand, feedback is often given to correct what is being said, to make it grammatically correct. According to Magno and Amarles (2011), teachers -specially writing teachers- utilize diverse strategies in providing feedback. However, they noted that the type of feedback is decided upon by the purpose and the multidimensional context that shapes it which entails several factors. Ferm Lange (2009) believes that the way teachers give their students corrective feedback is very important because feedback, whether it is positive or negative, is meant to encourage the students and also to help them develop their proficiency in the foreign language. Hattie and Timperley (2007) also confirmed that feedback with its crucial influence on learning and achievement can have either positive or negative affection.

Bitchener (2012) considers a significant role for corrective feedback (CF) through highlighting the theoretical perspectives on the language learning potential of written CF. Among the SLA theories, he focused on Krashen’s Monitor Model, skill acquisition, interaction, and socio-cultural theories that have something to say about the role of CF generally and written CF specifically for L2 learning/development and acquisition. In Krashen’s monitor model, monitor can operate when there is sufficient time (certainly during written performance) and can enable learners to draw on their explicit knowledge when responding to written CF if there is a focus on accuracy and if they have sufficient linguistic knowledge. Bitchener (2012) also pointed to Anderson’s ACT (Adaptive Control of Thought) model that specifically refers to the role of explicit knowledge (including what can be gained from explicit written CF) and implicit knowledge in learning. Anderson referred to explicit knowledge as declarative knowledge and to implicit knowledge as procedural knowledge and claimed that declarative knowledge can be converted to procedural knowledge through practice, which leads to automatization. Later, Bitchener focused on Socio-cultural theory (SCT) that has a different perspective on the role of interaction in L2 learning from the other interactional theories and is noteworthy for the kind of insights it offers about the learning process, including how learners respond to and use (or fail to respond to and use) the CF they are given. L2 learners can achieve higher levels of linguistic knowledge when they receive appropriate ‘scaffolding’, including CF, and the assistance of this ‘other regulation’ can eventually enable learners to be ‘self regulated’, i.e. able to use the L2 independently and autonomously. In particular, CF is believed to be most effective in the learner’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) – the point at which learning is possible.

Nelson (2007) also proposed three broad meanings of feedback: some feedback, such as praise, could be considered a motivator that increases a general behavior; feedback may specifically reward or punish very particular prior behaviors; and feedback might consist of information used by a learner to change performance in a particular direction. According to Ferm Lange (2009), feedback is what guides and develops a learner’s thinking and it is therefore a very important part of the learning process (Ferm Lange, 2009). Provided that feedback is constructive, she stated that it will have a positive effect on a students’ learning. Inappropriate feedback, however, will not benefit the learning process.

Feedback as viewed by Magno and Amarles (2011) necessitates the existence of gaps between what has been learned and the target competence of the learners, and the efforts undertaken to bridge these gaps. This feedback is provided to ask for further information, to give directions, suggestions, or requests for revision, to give students new information that will help them revise, and to give positive feedback about what the students have done well. Feedback also comes in various linguistic forms, may be in questions, statements, imperatives, or exclamations; comments given as feedback can be softened through the use of a variety of hedging devices.

Among the four skills of language, productive skills of writing and speaking grab more attention with respect to the concept of feedback (Cumming, 2006). Feedback plays a central role in developing proficiency, especially writing proficiency, among second language learners (Magno & Amarles, 2011). The idea that feedback is an essential determinant for the development of second language (L2) writing skills, both for its potential for learning and for student motivation, has been also spotlighted by Hyland and Hyland (2006). They asserted that notably in process-based, learner-centered classrooms, feedback is seen as an important developmental tool moving learners through multiple drafts towards the capability for effective self-expression. In addition, Williams (2004) highlighted the role of feedback in process writing. He claimed that one of the noteworthy innovations of the process approach is based on the realization that the key to improving student writing entails three factors: (a) asking students to write often, in meaningful contexts, (b) providing frequent feedback on work in progress, and (c) requiring numerous revisions based on that feedback. The importance of providing feedback for the learners in writing has been also emphasized by Adler-Kassner and O’Neill (2010). They noted that the interaction between teacher-student language use and student learning can be especially important in writing because teacher feedback is tied to students’ revision choices as well as to their overall understanding of writing and themselves as writers.

Now that the significance of feedback has been clarified, factors which play important roles in providing feedback to the learners must be elaborated. There have been several aspects of feedback since 1970s that made researchers work on the issue (Robb, Ross, &Shortreed, 1986). Various issues of error treatment were included in a set of questions proposed by Hendrickson (1978, p. 390):

- Should learners' errors be corrected?
- When should learners' errors be corrected?
- Which errors should be corrected?
- How should errors be corrected?
- Who should do the correcting?

These questions have been explored by scholars since 1970 in a variety of L2 classroom settings and have been found to be quite complicated. It seems that there are many factors which must be considered in providing feedback such as the source of feedback, recipient of feedback, mode and channel of feedback, and type of feedback.

The type of feedback is among the factors that Subasi (2002) attended to and stated that it can be first provided among the group members by themselves. Then the teacher can supervise the result. Some feedback, according to Hartshorn (2008), could be considered a motivator such as praise; it may specifically reward or punish very particular prior behaviors or consist of information used by a learner to change performance in a particular direction. In the context of writing, all three elements may be important. Van Patten and Benati (2010) considered two types of feedback: explicit/direct or implicit/indirect. Explicit feedback involves overt correction and implicit feedback occurs during communicative interactions without making any explicit statements. They also used the term “negative evidence” to refer to the type of feedback that language learners get when their utterance is ill-formed in some way (Van Patten & Benati, 2010). Negative evidence comes in two types: direct and indirect. Direct negative evidence refers to the feedback in which the learner is explicitly told his or her utterance is incorrect in some way whereas they consider indirect negative evidence as conversational interactions in which the learner’s interlocutor implicitly points out something is wrong. Traditionally, only direct written feedback was used in learners’ written assignments, i.e. directly writing the correct form of the mistake, but in 1996, Lazaro(1996) started to provide indirect written feedback to the learners through using some codes in the margins of the learners’ assignments. Lazaro argued that in this way, learners reflect on their errors, which improves their writing skill.

Despite increasing emphasis on oral response and the use of peers as sources of feedback, teacher written responses continue to play a central role in most L2 and foreign language (FL) writing classes (Hyland, 2003; Hyland & Hyland, 2006). Bitchener (2012) considered the dichotomy of direct / indirect corrective feedback (CF). He asserted that indirect CF indicates where an error has occurred, leaving the learner to work out what the correction should be. Hyland and Hyland (2006) also defined indirect feedback as what may persuade learner reflection and self-editing. Bitchener (2012) mentioned that advocates of indirect CF have found it most beneficial since it offers learners to engage in guided learning and problem-solving. As a result, it promotes the type of reflection on existing knowledge or partially internalized knowledge and is more likely to foster deeper processing during the merging phase of the learning process. Learners at an advanced level of proficiency may be able to draw upon a more developed linguistic repertoire and use this in determining what correction is appropriate, but for learners at a lower level of proficiency, this might not work as they may not have such an extensive or deeply processed linguistic knowledge base to draw upon. Direct CF was defined by Bitchener (2012) as a tool to provide learners with a correct version of the erroneous use of form/structure. He pointed to the advocates of direct CF who consider it more beneficial since it reduces any confusion teachers may experience if learners are unable to understand what it is saying, it provides them with information to resolve more complex errors (such as syntactic structure and idiomatic usage), it offers more explicit feedback on hypotheses that are tested by learners, and finally it is more immediate. For these reasons, learners at lower proficiency level may find direct CF more beneficial than indirect CF. Learners at higher proficiency level may find both types helpful depending on how partially acquired the linguistic form/structure is.

Different types of feedback can be given in oral or written forms to the learners’ writing or understanding of reading passages (Subasi, 2002). Written feedback was defined as an oral input from a reader to a writer with the effect of providing information to the writer for revising errors and oral feedback was defined as oral input from a reader to a writer with the effect of providing information to the writer for the revision (Keh, 1990). Oral feedback can be given in one-to-one situation or with a small group through teacher-student negotiation (Zhu, 1995). Providing written feedback to students is one of the ESL writing teacher’s most important tasks, offering the kind of individualized attention that is otherwise rarely possible under normal classroom conditions. Being acknowledged as pedagogically useful (Hyland & Hyland, 2006), written feedback has been considered as being informational, a means of channeling reactions and advice to facilitate improvements.

However, Hyland and Hyland (2006) claimed that there is a close relationship between written and oral feedback and instruction because the points made through explicit teaching were picked up and reinforced by written feedback and then recycled in both peer and student-teacher oral interactions. One way to establish this link has been to encourage students to revise papers based on feedback and keep both final versions and drafts in a portfolio.

Montgomery and Baker (2007) found that both teachers and students feel that teacher-written feedback is an important part of the writing process. This is especially true for second language (L2) writing since the goal of L2 writing is often to teach both the conventions of writing in a particular culture as well as L2 grammatical forms. L2 writing teachers are cognizant of students’ perceptions of written feedback which they try to be supportive for their students. However, as Montgomery and Baker stated, teachers may not be fully aware of how much feedback they give on local, i.e. spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and global, i.e. ideas, content, and organization, issues nor whether the type of feedback they feel they should give adheres to their beliefs about written feedback.

However, it should be noted that on the one side of the coin of a teaching/learning process are teachers, on the other side are students. Therefore, the uncertainties teachers have about the amount of feedback and the areas to focus on through using feedback can be to some extent felt by the learners’ assessment of their own work. This is confirmed by Cumming (2006), noting that there are three factors seem to affect the students’ assessments of their written assignments and goal attainment: feedback from instructors, attributions of failure and success, and personal standards and involvement. Based on his study, he argued that, to assess the effectiveness of their written texts and attainment of the instructors’ goals, the students trusted their instructors’ feedback in the form of written comments and/or grades. Hence, the instructors’ feedback appeared to play a mediational role, supporting the students’ self-assessments of their goal attainment and texts. Many students accepted their instructors’ feedback as reflecting their own perceptions of their writing and used it when assessing their goal attainment and texts (Cumming, 2006).In assessing their goal attainment, students can refer to such factors as goal properties (e.g., difficulty), contextual constraints (e.g., task difficulty, time constraints), and internal factors (e.g., L2 ability, carelessness) to explain their writing performance. Usually, students employ high personal standards when assessing their texts and goal attainment. These students are willing to know whether they have achieved either their own or their instructors’ goals for the assignments.

Different aspects of writing can receive feedback. For example, Ashwell (2000) believed that certain kinds of grammar correction are justified on the grounds that the formal accuracy of the written product matters. Advocates of process writing acknowledge the importance of linguistic accuracy because it is bound up with the communicative effectiveness of a piece of writing. Grammar correction is seen as one way of helping writers to improve the accuracy of a piece of writing and in turn, therefore, to improve its communicative effectiveness. However, there are also many other aspects than just accuracy which necessitate the utilization of feedback such as mechanics, organization, and fluency (Hughes, 2003).

Bruton (2009) claimed that there are at least two reasons for student revisions of their writing after the language errors havebeen marked by the instructor. The first is that student revision of a corrected text, whether it is only the student writing the corrections to the indicated errors or rewriting the whole text, actually contributes positively to learning. The second reason is that it ensures, from a research view at least, that the errors have been attended to. Chandler (2003) pointed out that if students did not revise their writing based on feedback about errors, having teachers mark errors was equal to giving no error feedback. Another relevant aspect of revision is that, if the students are given clues rather than the instructor writing in the corrections, there is no guarantee that the student revisions will be correct, especially if the error correction required is beyond the students’ capacity.

To sum up, error treatment in L2 writing classes should be attended to seriously. Ferris (2004) proposed some guidelines to approach error treatment and provide appropriate and beneficial feedback for the L2 learners. Ferris (2004, p.59) suggested the following stages:

1. Error treatment, including error feedback by teachers, is a necessary component of L2 writing instruction. We must prepare ourselves to do it competently, we must plan for it carefully in designing our courses, and we must execute it faithfully and consistently.

2. In the majority of instances, teachers should provide indirect feedback that engages students in cognitive problem-solving as they attempt to self-edit based upon the feedback that they have received. (Exceptions may include students at lower levels of L2 proficiency, who may not possess the linguistic competence to self-correct.)

3. Different types of errors will likely require varying treatments. Students may be less capable, for instance, of self-editing some lexical errors and complex, global problems with sentence structure than more discrete morphological errors.

4. Students should be required to revise (or at least self-edit) their texts after receiving feedback, ideally in class where they can consult with their peers and instructor.

5. Supplemental grammar instruction (in class or through individualized self-study materials recommended by the instructor) can facilitate progress in accuracy if it is driven by student needs and integrated with other aspects of error treatment (teacher feedback, charting, etc.).

6. The maintenance of error charts, ideally by the students themselves with guidance from the instructor, can heighten student awareness of their weaknesses and of their improvement.


Adler-Kassner, L., & O'Neill, P. (2010). Reframing writing assessment to improve teaching and learning. Logan: Utah State University Press.

Ashwell, T. (2000). Patterns of teacher response to student writing in a multiple-draft composition classroom: Is content feedback followed by form feedback the best method? Journal of Second Language Writing, 9 (3), 227-257.

Bitchener, J. (2012). A reflection on the language learning potential of written CF. Journal of Second Language Writing, 21 (4), 348-363.

Bruton, A. (2009). Designing research into the effects of grammar correction in L2 writing: Not so straightforward. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18 (2), 136-140.

Chandler, J. (2003). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12 (3), 267-296.

Cumming, A. (2006). Goals for academic writing: ESL students and their instructors. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

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Ferris, D. R. (2004). The “grammar correction” debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? (and what do we do in the meantime…?). Journal of Second Language Writing, 13 (1), 49-62.

Hartshorn, K.J. (2008). The effects manageable corrective feedback on writing accuracy. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Young University, Brigham.

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77 (1), 81-112.

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Hyland, K. & Hyland, F. (2006). Feedback in second language writing: Contexts and issues. USA: Cambridge University Press.

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Lázaro, L. A. (1996). Introduction to Language Assessment. In Lázaro, L. A. et al. (Eds). Acquisition and assessment of communicative skills (p.9-20). Alcala′ de Henares: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Alcala′.

Magno, C., &Amarles, A.M. (2011). Teachers’ feedback practices in second language academic writing classrooms. The International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment, 6 (2) 21-30.

Montgomery, J. L., & Baker, W. (2007). Teacher-written feedback: Student perceptions, teacher self-assessment, and actual teacher performance. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16 (2), 82-99.

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Subasi, G. (2002). Peer Written Feedback Training and its Impact on Students’ writing Outcome (Unpublished doctoral dissertation).

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Chapter 3: Monolingual Fallacy

English as an international language plays a critical role in the year 2012. Many people in second or foreign language situations attempt to learn English for different purposes such as finding a new job, going to a prestigious university, writing scholarly articles and visiting foreign countries, to name a few. To learn English, many people including adults and children who may have different L1s, attend classes all around the world; however, a major issue is whether those English language learners can use their mother tongues while learning English as a second or foreign language, or whether the target language should be taught in a monolingual mode, a view which is technically called the monolingual fallacy. In other words, the place of first language in the acquisition of the second language has been the focus of much research. There has been a variety of shift of approaches to the use of L1 depending on the accompanying political contexts and trends in EFL methods. Auerbach (1993) argues that there seems to be all or nothing approaches to L1 use, with the translation method being in favor of L1 use, while many other classes today rejects its use (p. 15).

According to Phillipson (1992), the imposition of an English-only approach in classrooms is rooted in the maintenance of colonial power. In his view, the fallacy may reflect a supposition of cultural andlinguistic superiority which can be said to promote an authoritarian approach towards learning. He also believes that the monolingual fallacy ignores bilingualism and it has negative effects on learning foreign/second languages, in particular English. The fallacy can hinder learning and it can be regarded as an important line of research (Phillipson, 1992). It is also important to note that no one has ever tried to study Iranian EFL learners' and teachers’ particular beliefs about the use of L1 in L2 classrooms.

That is, it is not yet known whether they agree with the use of L1 in L2 classrooms or whether they think that the monolingual orthodoxy is the best way of learning a second language. Hence, the present study is aimed at examining perspectives of Iranian academics including EFL students and teachers of a university towards the use of L1 (Farsi) and L2 (English) in their classrooms.

According to Phillipson (1992, p.185), the monolingual fallacy is the idea that ‘the teaching of English as a foreign or second language should be entirely through the medium of English’. Ever since the day Phillipson highlighted the importance of L1 in L2 classrooms, a number of scholars and researchers have worked on this line of research. For instance, Canagarajah (1999) says that exclusion of L1 from L2 classrooms will have ‘damaging’ and ‘oppressive effects’ on learners (p.125). Proponents of critical pedagogy also regard the use of L1 in second language classrooms as an expression of linguistic human rights (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000). Corson (1999) holds that the English-only policy is the backbone of social injustice in second language classrooms. Auerbach (1993) also believes that the monolingual fallacy can shape unequal power relations in L2 classes where it can have bad effects on learners. In the EFL context, Cook (2001) posits that the use of such pejorative language as avoid, ban, and con­fess for describing L1 uses in L2 classes will hinder learning. Prodromou (2002, p. 6) says that L1 use in the L2 context is now a guilty secret which should be changed.

Many people, including armchair scholars, believe that the Direct Method is the very beginning of the idea that L1 use in L2 classrooms should be banned. Philipson (1992) also argues that monolingual fallacy dates back to Gatenby (1965) who developed this principle in an article summarizing ELT principles. More recently this notion is supported by the work of Krashen’s (1982) Monitor model which emphasizes a natural approach to language acquisition, where L2 is believed to be acquired by immense exposure and L2 acquisition needs limited use of L1. On the other hand, Widdowson (2001, p. 8) says ‘The conventional wisdom that holds that monolingual teaching is the best way of getting bilingual results dates back a century at least and is a legacy of the direct method’. In a similar mode, Larsen-Freeman (2000, p. 8) condemned the Direct Method (DM) for ignoring L1 saying that ‘the direct method has one very basic rule: No translation is allowed’. This is while Hornby (1946) stressed that, since DM bans the use of L1 in L2 classrooms, EFL/ESL practitioners are forced to spend large periods of classroom time explaining a vocabulary item or a grammar point which can be easily done via the use of L1 in a second. The point can best be seen in what Cook (2006, p. 59) says: ‘Rather one minute of instructions in L1 and 9 minutes in L2 doing the task than 9 minutesin L1 and 1 minute in L2 doing the task’.

Gorjian, Alipour and Saffarian (2012) says that the Monolingual Approach became popular due to a number of reasons including colonialism and great mass migration. Phillipson (1992) also believed that colonialism plays a critical role in the evolution of the fallacy where the approach completely ignored the native language of occupied people. However, this view can be refuted as, for instance, people in India and Hong Kong were said to use their L1 under British colonial occupation (Ismail, 2012; Pennycook, 1998).

To understand the monolingual fallacy, it is important to take a look at the related literature which support or neglect the role of L1 in L2 classes. Surveying the related literature, the authors found that, although the common belief of EFL/ESL practitioners is to ban L1 in L2 classes (Phillipson, 1992),there were very few studies which support the monolingual fallacy which are mentioned in the following part.

Macdonald (1993) excludes L1 from her L2 classes, arguing that L2 should be taught via the use of L2 only. Kharma and Hajjaj (1989) carried out a review-based discussion saying that the use of L1 is not necessary in L2 contexts. Turnbull and Arnett (2002) also conducted a review study and denigrated the role of L1; however, they say “future research must determine . . . when it is acceptable and/or effective for teachers to draw on the students’ L1’ ( p. 211).Duff and Polio (1990) explored the use of L1 in second language classes where different language were being taught such as Korean, French, Quechua, Serbo-Croat and Portuguese. They interviewed students and teachers and used a questionnaire to understand their views. They conclude that L1 cannot play a critical role in learning a second language. In another study Kaneko (1992) conducted research with regard to the use of L1 in learning L2 vocabularies. The conclusion he made is that ‘the more the L1 was used, the less the students [learnt vocabulary]’ (Kaneko, p.102).

To come up with a coherent picture of the monolingual fallacy, it is better to take a look at articles which support the use of L1 in L2 classes. Friendlander (1990) used Chinese while teaching English to a group of 28 students who were supposed to write essays in L2. He found that the use of L1 can pave the way for students to better understand and develop the topic they are set to write about. In another study, Strohmeyer and McGrail (1992) used L1 for teaching English to a group of Spanish students. The results suggested that Spanish students could perform better in writing English essays. Another study which was carried out by Rinvolucri (2001) showed that L1 can play a key role in learning L2 while the teacher speaks the language which is the L1 of the students.

Storch and Wigglesworth (2003) argue that L1 can give students “cognitive support” that provides them with the ability to explore language and produce work that is of higher standard (p.760). They suggest that “teachers should not prohibit the use of some L1 altogether in group and pair work but should acknowledge that the use of the L1 may be a normal psychological process that allows learners to initiate and sustain verbal interaction” (p.768, 2003). Anton and DiCamillas (1998) study showed the role of L1 in scaffolding learners, and in improving learner interest and endeavor in cognitively demanding tasks. Similarly, Scott De La Fuente (2008) found that the “use of L1 for consciousness raising tasks may reduce cognitive overload, sustain collaborative interaction, foster the development of metalinguistic terminology” (p.111).

Regarding punishment for using L1 in L2 classrooms, Canagarajah (1999, p. 125) says that punishment will hinder learning and it really a ‘damaging’ tool to be used by teachers. In a similar move, Phillipson (1992) says that punishment should be banned in EFL/ESL classrooms, since it may lead to stressful classrooms.


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Critical Issues in Applied Linguistics. From Tradition to Computer Assisted Language Teaching and Learning
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