Methodology and Related Sciences – Linguistics

Вересень 7th, 20115:46 am

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Methodology and Related Sciences – Linguistics

Methodology and Linguistics

Learning to speak a foreign language is acquiring the ability to express oneself in different sounds and words through the use of a different grammar. Some sounds, words as items of grammar may or may not have counterparts in the native language and these may have meanings or content which are similar to, or different from, those of the other tongue. It is thus important to know what they are and how they may be analyzed.

Most methodologists agree that one of the cornerstones on which language teaching must be built is the science that deals with the nature of language itself: linguistics. Of the various branches of linguistics that the teachers are concerned with, at least at the elementary stage of instruction, are synchronic (descriptive) and diachronic (historical) linguistics. Diachronic linguistics deals with the development of languages over long periods of time and the establishment of relationships among them. Synchronic linguistics describes living languages as they are used today.

The best linguists are not necessarily the best language teachers. Quite the reverse may often be true. Some of the teachers of English, who have been most undeniably successful, know little about linguistic science. Practice shows that some of the most brilliant graduate students of linguistics seem hopelessly inept as language teachers. What can be safely asserted is that the teachers, who have the firmest grasp of the fundamentals of linguistics, will probably be the most effective in their work. Drills should be meaningful, sound linguistically and sentences should be related to reality, i.e. real-life situations that could lead to true communication.

On the other hand, it is necessary to caution teachers against the dangers of relationship that can be too dependent on linguistics or too exclusive. In doing both things the methodologist must differentiate between a theoretical science and applied art-science, between unquestioning adoption and judicious application of linguistic knowledge.

As we have said, methodology has direct bearing to linguistics, i.e. the study of languages in its widest sense, in every aspect and in all its varieties. Methodology successfully uses the results of linguistic investigation in the selection and arrangement of language material for teaching. Foreign language classrooms have been excellent laboratories to test, approve or refute new theories of language acquisition.

The scientific basis of the practical study of languages is what may be called “living philology”, which starts from the accurate observation of spoken languages by means of phonetics, grammar and vocabulary, and makes this the basis of all study of language, whether practical or theoretical.

Methodology of FLT, like any other science, has definite ways of investigating the problems that may arise. Among them:

1) A critical study of current trends in methodology in this country and abroad;

2) A thorough study and summing up of the experience of the best foreign language teaching in different types of school;

3) A research into the nature of language and how it functions, which could lead to new experimental formulae in terms of teaching materials and teaching techniques. The present diverse types of methods, principles and techniques will gradually be replaced by more general types, and, in the end, the ideal type will be involved. Unsound methods will gradually be eliminated and will make room for methods that will yield the best results.

The fusion of modern linguistics with an analysis of language teaching methodology has led to new criteria for preparing teaching materials. The materials are selected, graded and presented in the light of modern views about the nature of languages, that is to say accepting at every stage that the teaching items have some relation to patterns of sound, vocabulary, grammar, or of situation. Finally, the whole operation takes it for granted that language is meaningful and must be taught meaningfully at all stages.

It is also encouraging that more and more psychologists are becoming specifically interested in FLL. One major cause of this is certainly the fact that there has been a perceptible shift of the centre of gravity of linguistics itself towards psychology. A new term “psycholinguistics” apparently generated from N. Chomsky’s “Syntactic structures”, has come into wide use to describe the work of those whose investigations are carried out in the border area between psychology and linguistics.

There is a growing evidence that methodology will not harden into a closed system but will remain open to new ideas arising from the achievements made in several related scientific disciplines.

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