Recent Articles


While the child’s competence grows into the adult’s, just as a caterpillar grows into a butterfly, it would be as foolish to describe the child’s grammar as that of a defective adult as to describe the caterpillar’s legs as defective wings.(Cook 1997b:36) Reflecting progression from first the behaviourist assumptions concerning language learning, and then the […]

Explicit vs. implicit and declarative vs. procedural language learning

Bialystok (e.g. 1981b) develops a model of SLA based on two interacting types of mental representation of linguistic knowledge: implicit and explicit, corresponding to Krashen’s ‘acquired/learnt’ dichotomy. Implicit knowledge is “the unconscious knowledge of a much larger body of information that is the basis of automatic, spontaneous use of language” (Little 1994:103), which is intuitive, […]

Needs Analysis as the First Step in Syllabus Design

‘What is good for everything is good for nothing.’ This is one of the maxims each of us ought to bear in mind, and it is applicable to all spheres of life, not excluding language pedagogy. Any foreign language program follows certain guidelines, be they the general curriculum of a state school, the language philosophy […]

Features of Good Language Tests

Most of the progress and achievement tests that we as teachers run among our students we have to design ourselves. This is done in order to ensure that we are indeed testing what we intend to test, what we have taught, and what our students need to know. Tests found in teacher’s books may of […]

Noticing in second language acquisition

Having mentioned the role of conscious processes in the learning of a FL one cannot but revert to the notion of noticing. In a detailed diary study of Robert Schmidt’s 22-week stay in Brazil and his acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese over that period, Schmidt (1990) reported his conviction that he usually noticed—and subsequently began to […]

Acquisition-learning hypothesis

Krashen (1980) suggested that the learner’s knowledge of the L2 is best characterised in terms of two entirely separate and unrelated competences: ‘acquired’ knowledge and ‘learnt’ knowledge. Acquisition occurs as the subconscious, automatic, spontaneous and incidental picking up and internalisation of language, resulting from natural language use in meaning-focused situations, gradually developing linguistic ability via […]

Zone of Proximal Development

Feuerstein wasn’t the first to come up with such a theory of learning; talking of his model one cannot but conjure up Vygotsky’s (1934b) constructionist theory of cognitive development which has been applied to L2 development (Lantolf & Appel 1994), specifically, of his concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), taken to denote “the […]

Mediation theory

Pedagogic intervention ought to be tailored to the learner’s needs, so as to help him/her “find ways of moving into their next level of understanding of language” (Williams & Burden 1997:66). This postulate logically meshes with the cognitive mediation theory of Israeli psychologist Reuven Feuerstein (et al. 1980), which takes the role of the mediator […]