The old an the new: reconsidering eclecticism in language teaching

Albert Weidemann

Abstract


A method of language teaching is a style of instruction that expresses the professionalcommitment of the teacher in support of an assumption of how language is learned. After theideological excesses of the audio-lingual method, it is understandable that teachers adopteda 'once bitten, twice shy' approach, which for many amounted to adopting eclecticism. Thisarticle considers five arguments against eclecticism, the inevitable continuities with the oldin what are paraded as innovative methodologies, and how one may handle professionallythe truly new in language teaching methods. Turning to arguments for eclecticism, the articlesuggests two main conditions for adopting it as professional stance, and gives three exampleswhere combinations of language teaching methods have in fact enriched our practice. Thearticle concludes with a set of explanations, with two examples from other African countries(Eritrea and Namibia) that have emerged from recent studies (Tesfamariam 2000;Shaalukeni 2000), as to why the communicative approach to language teaching, even thoughit is regarded by teachers as the reigning orthodoxy in language teaching, has not beenadopted by teachers on our continent.

'n Taalonderrigmetode is 'n onderrigstyl waarin uitdrukking gegee word aan die professionele toegewydheid van die opvoeder ter ondersteuning van 'n aanname oor hoe taal aangeleer word. Nil die ideologiese buitensporighede van die oudio-linguistiese metode, is dit verstaanbaar dat opvoeders 'n houding sal inneem van "n esel stamp nie sy kop twee maal teen dieselfde klip nie', wat vir baie op 'n aanvaarding van die eklektisisme gedui het. Hierdie artikel bekyk vyf argumente teen die eklektisisme, die onvermydelike verbintenisse van die oue met wat as vernuwende metodologiee voorgehou word, en hoe 'n mens die ware nuwighede in taalonderrigmetodes sou kon hanteer. Aan die ander kant bied die artikel in argumente ten gunste van die eklektisisme twee hoofvoorwaardes aan vir die aanvaarding daarvan as professionele standpunt, en gee drie voorbeelde van waar kombinasies van taalonderrigmetodes in werklikheid ons praktyk verryk het. Die artikel word afgesluit met 'n reeks verklarings, met twee voorbeelde van ander Afrika-lande (Eritrea en Namibie) wat na aanleiding van onlangse navorsing (Tesfamariam 2000; Shaalukeni 2000) aan die lig gekom het, en wat handel oor die redes waarom die kommunikatiewe benadering tot taalonderrig, selfs al word dit deur opvoeders as die heersende ortodoksie in taalonderrig gereken, nog nie deur opvoeders op ons vasteland aanvaar word nie.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5785/17-1-131

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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