By M. Martin O'Shea
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Extra info for A Teacher's Guide to Encounters in the New World: A History in Documents (Pages from History)
Once that pedagogic thread is broken, it cannot he mended. From an integrational perspective, that supplies a macrosocial explanation of why the first grammar of Greek emanates not from Athens but from Alexandria. Athens had no reason to establish its credentials in the mainstream of Hellenic culture. Implicit and Explicit Language Teaching 31 But provincial Alexandria, founded in the wake of Alexander’s conquests, certainly did. * * * Not the least of the reasons why Dionysius’s grammar might he regarded as a landmark in language teaching is this.
I can imagine that some language teachers would regard this as a rather desperate thought experiment, wheeled on to justify the integrationist position. So let me refer now to some experimental work by J. J. Asher, who is by no means an integrationist and therefore provides some measure of independent support. According to Asher, in developing his own Total Physical Response’ (TPR) method of language teaching, he found that it made no difference whether students were given instructions in Persian, Portuguese or Japanese.
But that, from an integrationist perspective, is not the gravest misconception associated with teaching languages by the Dionysian method. A more basic problem, not only with Dionysius but with any method based on ‘metalinguistic awareness’, is that it invites a conflation between personal linguistic proficiency in language X and knowing something about language X. In integrational terms, the difference is very clear. The activities that can be integrated in the two cases are quite different. You might as well suppose that learning a lot about the bicycle would automatically enable you to ride one.
A Teacher's Guide to Encounters in the New World: A History in Documents (Pages from History) by M. Martin O'Shea