Update: 2015-12-14 06:07 PM -0500


Human learning


H. Douglas Brown, Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, 4th. ed., Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. Copyright 2000. ISBN 0-13-017816-0 . Excerpts from chapters 04 and 07.

Copied and edited (leaving out some portions) by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

index.htm | |Top

Contents of this page

Please do not forget that my theme is on BEPS - study of four languages in three scripts. This file contains material biased towards teaching of English to non-English speakers in North America. And some of the material in the original text is bound to be out of place in BEPS. I am still trying to present my views on BEPS seamlessly, and the file is still in the preparation stage: it still has some notes to myself which would be of use to me at a later date. - UKT101205

04. Human Learning  078
04.01. Learning and Training, 078
04.04. Ausubel's Meaningful Learning Theory, 083
04.04.01. Systematic Forgetting, 086
04.05. Rogers's Humanistic Psychology, 089
04.06. Types of Learning, 091
04.07. Transfer, Interference, and Overgeneralization, 094
04.08. Inductive and Deductive Reasoning, 097
04.09. Aptitude and Intelligence, 098
04.09.01. Aptitude 098
04.09.02. Intelligence 100
04.10.02. Suggestopedia 105
04.10.03. Silent Way 106
04.10.04. Total Physical Response (TPR) 107
04.10.05. Natural Approach 108
04.12. Suggested Readings, 110
07.03. Second culture acquisition
07.07. Language, thought, and culture


Noteworthy passages:
• Meaning is not an implicit response, but a "clearly articulated and precisely differentiated conscious experience that emerges when potentially meaningful signs, symbols, concepts, or propositions are related to and incorporated within a given individual's cognitive structure on a nonarbitrary and substantive basis" (Anderson & Ausubel 1965: 8)
Learning how to learn is more important than being taught something from the "superior" vantage point of a teacher who unilaterally decides what shall be taught.
• See Table 4.1 for a summary of theories on learning.

UKT notes
Ann Peters
Carl Rogers
David Ausubel
Frank Smith (psycholinguist)
George Miller
Humanistic Psychology
Ivan Pavlov
language attrition
mnemonic device
Paolo Freire
Pavlov's Classical Behaviorism
Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery (PLAB)
Robert Gagné

Contents of this page



UKT151201: Whether it's the Brahma {brah~ma} teaching the Brahmin-Poannar {braah~ma.poaN~Na:} or simply {poaN~Na:}, or one human teacher - the guru- teaching his student, there are always two parties involved: the giver and the recipient . And the recipient is always human, be he/she the rishi {ra.þé.}, a yogi, or an ordinary human. To me, it is similar to an adult learner learning a second language (L2), and I have lifted sections of Brown's book, editing (leaving out irrelevant portions, adding new, and rewriting to suit what I am now writing) - Language and meaning . However you may still see remnants of the original which are out of place in my narrative.

In L2 acquisition, the cognitive domain of human behavior is of key importance in the acquisition. The processes of perceiving, attending, storing, and recalling are central to the task of internalizing a language. In human learning we focus specifically on cognitive processes. In the first part of the chapter, different learning theories are outlined. Then, we deal with some other universal learning principles. Finally, some current thoughts about aptitude and intelligence are presented.

Remember learning an L2 language, say Pali-Myan or Sanskrit-Devanagari, means understanding the "meanings" of what is learnt. It is not repeating nor reciting with the most correct pronunciation of passages learnt by rote learning. Thus a person reciting Pali scriptures with the most correct pronunciation is no better than a tape recorder - a machine.

Contents of this page


Humans learn, and by learning they are expected to know the meaning of what is learnt. They should learn the meaning at all levels - not only at the superficial or surface level, such as that given in a dictionary, but deep down to the extent of changing the behavior of the learner. A person who really knows what has been learned is able to explain to another person what has been learned. This type of learning and passing on Buddha's teachings to others is encouraged by the Buddha himself:

anujānāmi bhikkhave sakāya niruttiyā buddhavacanam pariyāpunitum

The passage may be grossly translated as: "Monks you are permitted to teach Buddha's words in your own language". To me the message is for the monk to teach and explain Buddha's message so that the hearer would know the meaning - not merely repeating in a language which the listener does not understand, and which in all probability the monk himself does not fully understand. However, a translation just like mine is bounded to be disputed because of the translation of the word 'nirutti' .
See Language Problem of Primitive Buddhism by Chi Hisen-lin, Journal of the Burma Research Society, XLIII, i, June 1960 - language-probl.htm (link chk 151201)

Human learning and 'animal learning' or more properly 'human teaching and animal training are quite different. The animal is "trained" to do certain things just like being trained to play frishbee. 

The ease of teaching depends on what the target already knows. Thus to teach Buddhism to a Bur-Myan would be much easier than to teach the Quorum because many Pali words are already quite familiar to him.

In turning now to varied theories of how human beings learn, consider once again the definition of learning given in Chapter 1: "acquiring or getting of knowledge of a subject or a skill by study, experience, or instruction;' or "a relatively permanent change in a behavioral tendency, ... the result of reinforced practice." [UKT ¶]

When we consider such definitions, it is clear that one can understand learning in many different ways, which is why there are so many different theories, extended definitions, and schools of thought on the topic of learning. We need not look into the behavioristic viewpoint of Pavlov and Skinner, but concentrate on a rational/cognitive stance (Ausubel), and one that stretches into what could be loosely defined as a constructivist school of thought .

Contents of this page


David Ausubel contended that learning takes place in the human organism through a meaningful process of relating new events or items to already existing cognitive concepts or propositions -- hanging new items on existing cognitive pegs. Meaning is not an implicit response, but a "clearly articulated and precisely differentiated conscious experience that emerges when potentially meaningful signs, symbols, concepts, or propositions are related to and incorporated within a given individual's cognitive structure on a nonarbitrary and substantive basis" (Anderson & Ausubel 1965: 8). It is this relatability that, according to Ausubel, accounts for a number of phenomena: the acquisition of new meanings (knowledge), retention, the psychological organization of knowledge as a hierarchical structure, and the eventual occurrence of forgetting.

The cognitive theory of learning as put forth by Ausubel is perhaps best understood by contrasting rote learning and meaningful learning. In the perspective of rote learning, the concept of meaningful learning takes on new significance. Ausubel described rote learning as the process of acquiring material as "discrete and relatively isolated entities that are relatable to cognitive structure only in an arbitrary and verbatim fashion, not permitting the establishment of [meaningful] relationships" (1968: 108). That is, rote learning involves the mental storage of items having little or no association with existing cognitive structure. Most of us, for example, can learn a few necessary phone numbers and ZIP codes by rote without reference to cognitive hierarchical organization.

Meaningful learning, on the other hand, may be described as a process of relating and anchoring new material to relevant established entities in (p084begin) cognitive structure. As new material enters the cognitive field, it interacts with, and is appropriately subsumed under, a more inclusive conceptual system. The very fact that material is subsumable , that is, relatable to stable elements in cognitive structure, accounts for its meaningfulness. If we think of cognitive structure as a system of building blocks, then rote learning is the process of acquiring isolated blocks with no particular function in the building of a structure and no relationship to other blocks. Meaningful learning is the process whereby blocks become an integral part of already established categories or systematic clusters of blocks. For the sake of a visual picture of the distinction, consider the graphic representation in Figures 4.1 and 4.2. (p084end-p085begin). Any learning situation can be meaningful if (a) learners have a meaningful learning set -- that is, a disposition to relate the new learning task to what they already know, and (b) the learning task itself is potentially meaningful to the learners -- that is, relatable to the learners' structure of knowledge. The second method of establishing meaningfulness -- one that Frank Smith (1975: 162) called "manufacturing meaningfulness" -- is a potentially powerful factor in human learning. We can make things meaningful if necessary and if we are strongly motivated to do so. Students cramming for an examination often invent a mnemonic device for remembering a list of items; the meaningful retention of the device successfully retrieves the whole list of items.

Frank Smith (1975) also noted that similar strategies can be used in parlor games in which, for example, you are called upon to remember for a few moments several items presented to you. By associating items either in groups or with some external stimuli, retention is enhanced. Imagine "putting" each object in a different location on your person: a safety pin in your pocket, a toothpick in your mouth, a marble in your shoe. By later "taking a tour around your person;' you can "feel" the objects there in your imagination. More than a century ago William James (1890: 662) described meaningful learning:

In mental terms, the more other facts a fact is associated with in the mind, the better possession of it our memory retains. Each of its associates becomes a hook to which it hangs, a means to fish it up by when sunk beneath the surface. Together, they form a network of attachments by which it is woven into the entire issue of our thought. The "secret of good memory" is thus the secret of forming diverse and multiple associations with every fact we care to retain. ... Briefly, then, of two men [ sic] with the same outward experiences and the same amount of mere native tenacity, the one who thinks over his experiences most, and weaves them into systematic relation with each other, will be the one with the best memory.

The distinction between rote and meaningful learning may not at first appear to be important since in either case material can be learned. But the significance of the distinction becomes clear when we consider the relative efficiency of the two kinds of learning in terms of retention, or long-term memory. We are often tempted to examine learning from the perspective of input alone, failing to consider the uselessness of a learned item that is not retained. Human beings are capable of learning almost any given item within the so-called "magic seven, plus or minus two" ( Miller 1956) units for perhaps a few seconds, but long-term memory is a different (p085end-p086begin) matter. We can remember an unfamiliar phone number, for example, long enough to dial the number, after which point it is usually extinguished by interfering factors. But a meaningfully learned, subsumed item has far greater potential for retention. Try, for example, to recall all your previous phone numbers (assuming you have moved a number of times in your life). It is doubtful you will be very successful; a phone number is quite arbitrary, bearing little meaningful relationship to reality (other than perhaps area codes and other such numerical systematization). But previous street addresses, for example, are sometimes more efficiently retained since they bear some meaningful relationship to the reality of physical images, directions, streets, houses, and the rest of the town, and are therefore more suitable for long-term retention without concerted reinforcement.

UKT 151201: My father, U Tun Pe an avid reader, told me about a memory enhancing program known as Kim's game. The young hero Kim, in Rudyard Kipling's novel, was trained by the British secret service to remember things that he heard and saw to report back to the British. According to my father, he (my father) remembered things by association. He told me about Kim's game when I complained to him during my student days (in early 1950s), that my memory was not good enough to cope with the kind of teaching prevalent in Myanmar schools: mostly memorizing not thinking.

The following is from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_s_Game 080227
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim%27s_Game 151202
"Kim's Game" is an exercise used to develop a person's capacity to observe and remember specific details. The name is derived from Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim. In that novel, the exercise was used to train Kim and other students in the art of clandestine operations in Central Asia and North-Western India. "


Contents of this page

04.04.01. Systematic Forgetting

(See my note on Language attrition.)

Ausubel provided a plausible explanation for the universal nature of forgetting. Since rotely learned materials do not interact with cognitive structure in a substantive fashion, they are learned in conformity with the laws of association, and their retention is influenced primarily by the interfering effects of similar rote materials learned immediately before or after the learning task (commonly referred to as proactive and retroactive inhibition). In the case of meaningfully learned material, retention is influenced primarily by the properties of "relevant and cumulatively established ideational systems in cognitive structure with which the learning task interacts" (Ausubel 1968: 108). Compared to this kind of extended interaction, concurrent interfering effects have relatively little influence on meaningful learning, and retention is highly efficient. Hence, addresses are retained as part of a meaningful set, while phone numbers, being self-contained, isolated entities, are easily forgotten.

We cannot say, of course, that meaningfully learned material is never forgotten. But in the case of such learning, forgetting takes place in a much more intentional and purposeful manner because it is a continuation of the very process of subsumption by which one learns; forgetting is really a second or "obliterative" stage of subsumption, characterized as "memorial reduction to the least common denominator" (Ausubel 1963: 218). Because it is more economical and less burdensome to retain a single inclusive concept than to remember a large number of more specific items, the importance of a specific item tends to be incorporated into the generalized meaning of the larger item. In this obliterative stage of subsumption, the specific items become progressively less identifiable as entities in their own right until they are finally no longer available and are said to be forgotten (see Figure 4.2). (p087begin)

It is this second stage of subsumption that operates through what I have called "cognitive pruning" procedures (Brown 1972). Pruning is the elimination of unnecessary clutter and a clearing of the way for more material to enter the cognitive field, in the same way that pruning a tree ultimately allows greater and fuller growth. Using the building-block analogy, one might say that, at the outset, a structure made of blocks is seen as a few individual blocks, but as "nucleation" begins to give the structure a perceived shape, some of the single blocks achieve less and less identity in their own right and become subsumed into the larger structure. Finally, the single blocks are lost to perception, or pruned out, to use the metaphor, and the total structure is perceived as a single whole without clearly defined parts.

An example of such pruning may be found in a child's learning of the concept of "hot" -- that is, excessive heat capable of burning. A small child's first exposure to such heat may be either direct contact with or verbally mediated exposure to hot coffee, a pan of boiling water, a stove, an iron, a candle. That first exposure may be readily recalled for some time as the child maintains a meaningful association between a parent's hot coffee and hurting. After a number of exposures to things that are very hot, the child begins to form a concept of "hotness" by clustering experiences together and forming a generalization. In so doing the bits and pieces of experience that actually built the concept are slowly forgotten -- pruned -- in favor of the general concept that, in the years that follow, enables the child to extrapolate to future experiences and to avoid burning fingers on hot objects.

An important aspect of the pruning stage of learning is that subsumptive forgetting, or pruning, is not haphazard or chance -- it is systematic. Thus by promoting optimal pruning procedures, we have a potential learning situation that will produce retention beyond that normally expected under more traditional theories of forgetting.

Research on language attrition has focused on a variety of possible causes for the loss of second language skills (see Weltens & Cohen 1989; Weltens 1987; Lambert & Freed 1982). Some of the more common reasons center on the strength and conditions of initial learning, on the kind of use that a second language has been put to, and on the motivational factors contributing to forgetting. Robert Gardner (1982) contended that in some contexts a lack of an "integrative" orientation (but see caveats in Chapter 6) toward the target culture could contribute to forgetting.

Native language forgetting occurs in some cases of subtractive bilingualism (members of a minority group learn the language of the majority group, and the latter group downgrades speakers of the minority language). Some researchers have suggested that "neurolinguistic blocking" and left-/right-brain functioning could contribute to forgetting (Obler 1982). And it (p087end-p088begin) appears that long-term forgetting can apply to certain linguistic features (lexical, phonological, syntactic, and so on) and not to others (Andersen 1982). Finally, Olshtain (1989) suggested that some aspects of attrition can be explained as a reversal of the acquisition process.

Research on language attrition usually focuses on long-term loss and not on those minute-by-minute or day-by-day losses of material that learners experience as they cope with large quantities of new material in the course of a semester or year of classroom language learning. It is this classroom context that poses the more immediate problem for the language teacher. Ausubel's solution to that problem would lie in the initial learning process: systematic, meaningful subsumption of material at the outset in order to enhance the retention process.

Ausubel's theory of learning has important implications for L2 learning and teaching. The importance of meaning in language and of meaningful contexts for linguistic communication has been discussed in the first three chapters. Too much rote activity, at the expense of meaningful communication in language classes, could stifle the learning process.

Subsumption theory provides a strong theoretical basis for the rejection of conditioning models of practice and repetition in language teaching. In a meaningful process like L2 learning, mindless repetition, imitation, and other rote practices in the language classroom have no place. The Audiolingual Method, which emerged as a widely used and accepted method of foreign language teaching, was based almost exclusively on a behavioristic theory of conditioning that relied heavily on rote learning. The mechanical "stamping in" of the language through saturation with little reference to meaning is seriously challenged by subsumption theory. Rote learning can be effective on a short-term basis, but for any long-term retention it fails because of the tremendous buildup of interference. In those cases in which efficient long-term retention is attained in rote-learning situations like those often found in the Audiolingual Method, maybe by sheer dogged determination, the learner has somehow subsumed the material meaningfully in spite of the method!

The notion that forgetting is systematic also has important implications for language learning and teaching. In the early stages of language learning, certain devices (definitions, paradigms, illustrations, or rules) are often used to facilitate subsumption. These devices can be made initially meaningful by assigning or "manufacturing" meaningfulness. But in the process of making language automatic, the devices serve only as interim entities, meaningful at a low level of subsumption, and then they are systematically pruned out at later stages of language learning. We might thus better achieve the goal of communicative competence by removing unnecessary barriers to automaticity. A definition or a paraphrase, for example, (p088end/p089begin) might be initially facilitative, but as its need is minimized by larger and more global conceptualizations, it is pruned.

While we are all fully aware of the decreasing dependence upon such devices in language learning, Ausubel's theory of learning may help to give explanatory adequacy to the notion. Language teachers might consider urging students to "forget" these interim, mechanical items as they make progress in a language and instead to focus more on the communicative use (comprehension or production) of language.

Contents of this page


(See my note on Humanistic Psychology.)

Carl Rogers is not traditionally thought of as a "learning" psychologist, yet he and his colleagues and followers have had a significant impact on our present understanding of learning, particularly learning in an educational or pedagogical context. Rogers's humanistic psychology has more of an affective focus than a cognitive one, and so it may be said to fall into the perspective of a constructivist view of learning. Certainly, Rogers and Vygotsky (1978) share some views in common in their highlighting of the social and interactive nature of learning.

Rogers devoted most of his professional life to clinical work in an attempt to be of therapeutic help to individuals. In his classic work Client-Centered Therapy (1951), Rogers carefully analyzed human behavior in general, including the learning process, by means of the presentation of nineteen formal principles of human behavior. All nineteen principles were concerned with learning from a "phenomenological " perspective, a perspective that is in sharp contrast to that of Skinner. Rogers studied the "whole person" as a physical and cognitive, but primarily emotional, being. His formal principles focused on the development of an individual's self-concept and of his or her personal sense of reality, those internal forces that cause a person to act. Rogers felt that inherent in principles of behavior is the ability of human beings to adapt and to grow in the direction that enhances their existence. Given a nonthreatening environment, a person will form a picture of reality that is indeed congruent with reality and will grow and learn. "Fully functioning persons;' according to Rogers, live at peace with all of their feelings and reactions; they are able to reach their full potential.

Rogers's position has important implications for education (see Curran 1972; Rogers 1983). The focus is away from "teaching" and toward "learning." The goal of education is the facilitation of change and learning. Learning how to learn is more important than being taught something from the "superior" vantage point of a teacher who unilaterally decides what shall be taught. Many of our present systems of education, in prescribing (p089end/p090begin) curricular goals and dictating what shall be learned, deny persons both freedom and dignity. What is needed, according to Rogers, is for teachers to become facilitators of learning through the establishment of interpersonal relationships with learners. Teachers, to be facilitators, must first be real and genuine, discarding masks of superiority and omniscience. Second, teachers need to have genuine trust, acceptance, and a prizing of the other person -- the student -- as a worthy, valuable individual. And third, teachers need to communicate openly and empathetically with their students and vice versa. Teachers with these characteristics will not only understand themselves better but will also be effective teachers, who, having set the optimal stage and context for learning, will succeed in the goals of education.

We can see in Carl Rogers's humanism quite a departure from the scientific analysis of Skinnerian psychology and even from Ausubel's rationalistic theory. Rogers is not as concerned about the actual cognitive process of learning because, he feels, if the context for learning is properly created, then human beings will, in fact, learn everything they need to.

Rogers's theory is not without its flaws. The educator may be tempted to take the nondirective approach too far, to the point that valuable time is lost in the process of allowing students to "discover" facts and principles for themselves. Also, a nonthreatening environment might become so non-threatening that the facilitative tension needed for learning is absent. There is ample research documenting the positive effects of competitiveness in a classroom, as long as that competitiveness does not damage self-esteem and hinder motivation to learn (see Bailey 1983).

One much talked-about educational theorist in the Rogersian tradition is the well-known Brazilian educator Paolo Freire, whose seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), has inspired many a teacher to consider the importance of the empowerment of students in classrooms. Freire vigorously objected to traditional "banking" concepts of education in which teachers think of their task as one of "filling" students "by making deposits of information which [they] consider to constitute true knowledge-deposits which are detached from reality" (1970: 62). Instead, Freire has continued to argue, students should be allowed to negotiate learning outcomes, to cooperate with teachers and other learners in a process of discovery, to engage in critical thinking, and to relate everything they do in school to their reality outside the classroom. While such "liberationist" views of education must be approached with some caution (Clarke 1990), learners may nevertheless be empowered to achieve solutions to real problems in the real world.

The work of Rogers (1983), Freire (1970), and other educators of a similar frame of mind has contributed significantly in recent years to a redefinition of the educational process. In adapting Rogers's ideas to language teaching and learning, we need to see to it that learners understand (p090end-p091begin) themselves and communicate this self to others freely and nondefensively. Teachers as facilitators must therefore provide the nurturing context for learners to construct their meanings in interaction with others. When teachers rather programmatically feed students quantities of knowledge, which they subsequently devour, they may foster a climate of defensive learning in which learners try to protect themselves from failure, from criticism, from competition with fellow students, and possibly from punishment. Classroom activities and materials in language learning should therefore utilize meaningful contexts of genuine communication with students engaged together in the process of becoming "persons."

The various perspectives on learning that have been outlined in this section are schematically represented in Table 4.1.


Contents of this page


Theories of learning of course do not capture all of the possible elements of general principles of human learning.1n addition to the four learning theories just considered are various taxonomies of types of human learning and other mental processes universal to all. The educational psychologist Robert Gagné (1965), for example, ably demonstrated the importance of identifying a number of types of learning that an human beings use. Types of learning vary according to the context and subject matter to be learned, but a complex task such as language learning involves every one of Gagné's (p092begin) types of learning-from simple signal learning to problem solving. Gagné (1965: 58-59) identified eight types of learning:

1. Signal learning. The individual learns to make a general diffuse response to a signal. This is the classical conditioned response of Pavlov.

2. Stimulus-response learning. The learner acquires a precise response to a discriminated stimulus. What is learned is a connection or, in Skinnerian terms, a discriminated operant, sometimes called an instrumental response.

3. Chaining. What is acquired is a chain of two or more stimulus-response connections. The conditions for such learning have also been described by Skinner.

4. Verbal association. Verbal association is the learning of chains that are verbal. Basically, the conditions resemble those for other (motor) chains. However, the presence of language in the human being makes this a special type of chaining because internal links may be selected from the individual's previously learned repertoire of language.

5. Multiple discrimination. The individual learns to make a number of different identifying responses to many different stimuli, which may resemble each other in physical appearance to a greater or lesser degree. Although the learning of each stimulus-response connection is a simple occurrence, the connections tend to interfere with one another.

6. Concept learning. The learner acquires the ability to make a common response to a class of stimuli even though the individual members of that class may differ widely from each other. The learner is able to make a response that identifies an entire class of objects or events.

7. Principle learning. In simplest terms, a principle is a chain of two or more concepts. It functions to organize behavior and experience. In Ausubel's terminology, a principle is a "subsumer" -- a cluster of related concepts.

8. Problem solving. Problem solving is a kind of learning that requires the internal events usually referred to as "thinking." Previously acquired concepts and principles are combined in a conscious focus on an unresolved or ambiguous set of events.

It is apparent from just a cursory definition of these eight types of learning that some types are better explained by certain theories than others. For example, the first five types seem to fit easily into a behavior-istic framework, while the last three are better explained by Ausubel's or (p092end/p093begin) Rogers's theories of learning. Since all eight types of learning are relevant to second language learning, the implication is that certain "lower"-level aspects of L2 learning may be more adequately treated by behavioristic approaches and methods, while certain "higher" -order types of learning are more effectively taught by methods derived from a cognitive approach to learning.

The L2 learning process can be further efficiently categorized and sequenced in cognitive terms by means of the eight types of learning.

1. Signal learning in general occurs in the total language process: human beings make a general response of some kind (emotional, cognitive, verbal, or nonverbal) to language.

2. Stimulus-response learning is evident in the acquisition of the sound system of a foreign language in which, through a process of conditioning and trial and error, the learner makes closer and closer approximations to native like pronunciation. Simple lexical items are, in one sense, acquired by stimulus-response connections; in another sense they are related to higher-order types of learning.

3. Chaining is evident in the acquisition of phonological sequences and syntactic patterns -- the stringing together of several responses -- although we should not be misled into believing that verbal chains are necessarily linear. Generative linguists (like McNeill, as we saw in Chapter 2) have wisely shown that sentence structure is hierarchical.

4. The fourth type of learning involves Gagne's distinction between verbal and nonverbal chains, and is not really therefore a separate type of language learning.

5. Multiple discriminations are necessary particularly in L2 learning where, for example, a word has to take on several meanings, or a rule in the native language is reshaped to fit a L2 context.

6. Concept learning includes the notion that language and cognition are inextricably interrelated, also that rules themselves -- rules of syntax, rules of conversation -- are linguistic concepts that have to be acquired.

7. Principle learning is the extension of concept learning to the formation of a linguistic system, in which rules are not isolated in rote memory, but conjoined and subsumed in a total system.

8. Finally, problem solving is clearly evident in L2 learning as the learner is continually faced with sets of events that are truly problems to be solved -- problems every bit as difficult as (p093end-p094begin) algebra problems or other "intellectual " problems. Solutions to the problems involve the creative interaction of all eight types of learning as the learner sifts and weighs previous information and knowledge in order to correctly determine the meaning of a word, the interpretation of an utterance, the rule that governs a common class of linguistic items, or a conversationally appropriate response.

It is not difficult, upon some reflection, to discern the importance of varied types of learning in the L2 acquisition process (see Larsen-Freeman 1991). Teachers and researchers have all too often dismissed certain theories of learning as irrelevant or useless because of the misperception that language learning consists of only one type of learning. "Language is concept learning," say some; "Language is a conditioning process;' say others. Both are correct in that part of language learning consists of each of the above. But both are incorrect to assume that all of language learning can be so simply classified. Methods of teaching, in recognizing different levels of learning, need to be consonant with whichever aspect of language is being taught at a particular time while also recognizing the interrelatedness of all levels of language learning.

Contents of this page


Human beings approach any new problem with an existing set of cognitive structures and, through insight, logical thinking, and various forms of hypothesis testing, call upon whatever prior experiences they have had and whatever cognitive structures they possess to attempt a solution. In the literature on language learning processes, three terms have commonly been singled out for explication: transfer, interference, and overgeneralization. The three terms are sometimes mistakenly considered to represent separate processes; they are more correctly understood as several manifestations of one principle of learning -- the interaction of previously learned material with a present learning event. From the beginning of life the human organism, or any organism for that matter, builds a structure of knowledge by the accumulation of experiences and by the storage of aspects of those experiences in memory. Let us consider these common terms in two associated pairs.

Transfer is a general term describing the carryover of previous performance or knowledge to subsequent learning. Positive transfer occurs when the prior knowledge benefits the learning task -- that is, when a previous item is correctly applied to present subject matter. Negative transfer (p094end-p095begin) occurs when previous performance disrupts the performance of a second task. The latter can be referred to as interference, in that previously learned material interferes with subsequent material -- a previous item is incorrectly transferred or incorrectly associated with an item to be learned.

It has been common in L2 teaching to stress the role of interference -- that is, the interfering effects of the native language [say Bur-Myan] on the target (the second) language [e.g. Eng-Latin, Mon-Myan, Pal-Myan, or Skt-Dev] . It is of course not surprising that this process has been so singled out, for native language interference is surely the most immediately noticeable source of error among L2 learners. The saliency of interference has been so strong that some have viewed L2 learning as exclusively involving the overcoming of the effects of the native language. It is clear from learning theory that a person will use whatever previous experience he or she has had with language to facilitate the second language learning process. The native language is an obvious set of prior experiences. Sometimes the native language is negatively transferred, and we say then that interference has occurred. For example, a French native speaker might say in English, "I am in New York since January," a perfectly logical transfer of the comparable French sentence "Je suis a New York depuis janvier:' Because of the negative transfer of the French verb form to English, the French system has, in this case, interfered with the person's production of a correct English form.

It is exceedingly important to remember, however, that the native language of a L2 learner is often positively transferred, in which case the learner benefits from the facilitating effects of the first language. In the above sentence, for example, the correct one-to-one word order correspondence, the personal pronoun, and the preposition have been positively transferred from French to English. We often mistakenly overlook the facilitating effects of the native language in our penchant for analyzing errors in the L2 and for overstressing the interfering effects of the L1. A more detailed discussion of the syndrome is provided in Chapter 8.

In the literature on L2 acquisition, interference is almost as frequent a term as overgeneralization, which is, of course, a particular subset of generalization. Generalization is a crucially important and pervading strategy in human learning. To generalize means to infer or derive a law, rule, or conclusion, usually from the observation of particular instances. The principle of generalization can be explained by Ausubel's concept of meaningful learning. Meaningful learning is, in fact, generalization: items are subsumed (generalized) under higher-order categories for meaningful retention. Much of human learning involves generalization. The learning of concepts in early childhood is a process of generalizing. A child who has been exposed to various kinds of animals gradually acquires a generalized concept of "animal." That same child, however, at an early stage of (p095end-p096begin) generalization, might in his or her familiarity with dogs see a horse for the first time and overgeneralize the concept of "dog" and call the horse a dog. Similarly, a number of animals might be placed into a category of "dog" until the general attributes of a larger category, "animal," have been learned.

In L2 acquisition it has been common to refer to overgeneralization as a process that occurs as the L2 learner acts within the target language, generalizing a particular rule or item in the L2 -- irrespective of the native language -- beyond legitimate bounds. We have already observed that children, at a particular stage of learning English as a native language, overgeneralize regular past-tense endings (walked, opened) as applicable to all past-tense forms (goed, flied) until they recognize a subset of verbs that belong in an "irregular" category. After gaining some exposure and familiarity with the second language, second language learners similarly will overgeneralize within the target language. Typical examples in learning English as a L2 are past-tense regularization and utterances like "John doesn't can study" (negativization requires insertion of the do auxiliary before verbs) or "He told me when should I get off the train " (indirect discourse requires normal word order, not question word order, after the wh- word). Unaware that these rules have special constraints, the learner overgeneralizes. Such overgeneralization is committed by learners of English from almost any native language background. (Chapter 8 gives a more detailed discussion of linguistic overgeneralization. )

Many have been led to believe that there are only two processes of second language acquisition: interference and overgeneralization. This is obviously a misconception. First, interference and overgeneralization are the negative counterparts of the facilitating processes of transfer and generalization. (See Figure 4.3.) Second, while they are indeed aspects of (p096end-p097begin) somewhat different processes, they represent fundamental and interrelated components of all human learning, and when applied to second language acquisition, are simply extensions of general psychological principles. Interference of the L1 in the second is simply a form of generalizing that takes prior first language experiences and applies them incorrectly. Overgeneralization is the incorrect application -- negative transfer -- of previously learned second language material to a present second language context. All generalizing involves transfer, and all transfer involves generalizing.

Contents of this page


Inductive and deductive reasoning are two polar aspects of the generalization process. In the case of inductive reasoning, one stores a number of specific instances and induces a general law or rule or conclusion that governs or subsumes the specific instances. Deductive reasoning is a movement from a generalization to specific instances: specific subsumed facts are inferred or deduced from a general principle. L2 learning in the "field" (natural, untutored language learning), as well as L1 learning, involves a largely inductive process, in which learners must infer certain rules and meanings from all the data around them.

Classroom learning tends to rely more than it should on deductive reasoning. Traditional -- especially Grammar Translation -- methods have overemphasized the use of deductive reasoning in language teaching. While it may be appropriate at times to articulate a rule and then proceed to its instances, most of the evidence in communicative L2 learning points to the superiority of an inductive approach to rules and generalizations. However, both inductively and deductively oriented teaching methods can be effective, depending on the goals and contexts of a particular language teaching situation.

UKT 101206: Grammar-Translation method of teaching was probably used by the ancient Indian monks in India to teach Sanskrit to the Chinese monks some of who were already advanced in age. Of course, the Chinese-speakers should not expected to converse freely in Sanskrit (with perfect Sanskrit pronunciation) with the Indians, but it is a fact that the Chinese learned Sanskrit in a relatively short time and took back to China books on Buddhism which they translated into Chinese once they arrived back in China.

An interesting extension of the inductive/deductive dichotomy was reported in Peters's (1981) case study of a child learning an L1. Peters pointed out that we are inclined, too often, to assume that a child's linguistic development proceeds from the parts to the whole, that is, children first learn sounds, then words, then sentences, and so forth. However, Peters's subject manifested a number of "Gestalt" characteristics, perceiving the whole before the parts. [UKT ¶]

Ge·stalt - n. pl. ge·stalts or ge·stalt·en 1. A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts. - AHTD
See Wikipedia article on Gestalt - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_qualities 151214

The subject demonstrated the perception of these wholes in the form of intonation patterns that appeared in his speech well before the particular words that would make up sentences. Peters cited other evidence of Gestalt learning in children and concluded that such "sentence learners" (versus "word learners") may be more common than researchers had previously assumed. (p097end-p098begin)

The implications of Peters's study for L2 teaching are rather tantalizing. We should perhaps pay close attention to learners' production of overall, meaning-bearing intonation patterns. Wong (1986) capitalizes on just such a concept in a discussion of teaching communicative oral production.

Contents of this page


The learning theories, types of learning, and other processes that have so far been explained in this chapter deal with mental perception, storage, and recall. Little has been said about two related and somewhat controversial issues in learning psychology: aptitude and intelligence. In brief, the questions are:

1. Is there such a thing as foreign language aptitude? If so, what are its properties? Can they be reliably measured? Are aptitudinal factors predictive of success in learning a foreign language?

2. What is intelligence? How is intelligence defined in terms of the foreign language learning process? What kinds of intelligence are related to foreign language learning?


Contents of this page

04.09.01. Aptitude

Do certain people have a "knack" for learning foreign languages? Anecdotal evidence would suggest that, for a variety of causal factors, some people are indeed able to learn languages faster and more efficiently than others. One perspective of looking at such aptitude is the identification of a number of characteristics of successful language learners. Risk-taking behavior, memory efficiency, intelligent guessing, and ambiguity tolerance are but a few of the many variables that have been cited (see Brown 1991 and Rubin & Thompson 1982, among others). Such factors will be the focus of the next chapter.

A more traditional way of examining what we mean by aptitude is through a historical progression of research that began around the middle of the twentieth century with John Carroll's (Carroll & Sapon 1958) construction of the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT). The MLAT required prospective language learners (before they began to learn a foreign language) to perform such tasks as learning numbers, listening, detecting spelling clues and grammatical patterns, and memorizing, all either in the native language, English, or utilizing words and morphemes from a constructed, hypothetical language. The MLAT was considered to be (p098end) independent of a specific foreign language, and therefore predictive of success in the learning of any language. ...

... ... ...

Contents of this page

04.09.02. Intelligence

Intelligence has traditionally been defined and measured in terms of linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities. Our notion of IQ (intelligence quotient) is based on several generations of testing of these two domains, stemming from the research of Alfred Binet early in the twentieth century. Success in educational institutions and in life in general seems to be a correlate of high IQ. In terms of Ausubel's meaningful learning model, high intelligence would no doubt imply a very efficient process of storing items that are particularly useful in building conceptual hierarchies and systematically pruning those that are not useful. Other cognitive psychologists have dealt in a much more sophisticated way with memory processing and recall systems.

In relating intelligence to L2 language learning, can we say simply that a "smart" person will be capable of learning a second language more successfully because of greater intelligence? After all, the greatest barrier to second language learning seems to boil down to a matter of memory, in the sense that if you could just remember everything you were ever taught, or you ever heard, you would be a very successful language learner. Or would you? It appears that our "language learning IQs" are much more complicated than that.

Howard Gardner (1983) advanced a controversial theory of intelligence that blew apart our traditional thoughts about IQ. Gardner described seven different forms of knowing which, in his view, provide a much more comprehensive picture of intelligence. Beyond the usual two forms of intelligence (listed as 1 and 2 below), he added five more:

1. linguistic

2. logical-mathematical

3. spatial (the ability to fimd one's way around an environment, to form mental images of reality, and to transform them readily)

4. musical (the ability to perceive and create pitch and rhythmic patterns)

5. bodily-kinesthetic (fine motor movement, athletic prowess)

6. interpersonal (the ability to understand others, how they feel, what motivates them, how they interact with one another)

7. intrapersonal intelligence (the ability to see oneself, to develop a sense of self-identity)

Gardner maintained that by looking only at the first two categories we rule out a great number of the human being's mental abilities; we see only a portion of the total capacity of the human mind. Moreover, he showed that our traditional definitions of intelligence are culture-bound. The "sixth-(p101begin) sense" of a hunter in New Guinea or the navigational abilities of a sailor in Micronesia are not accounted for in our Westernized definitions of IQ.

In a likewise revolutionary style, Robert Sternberg (1985, 1988) has also been shaking up the world of traditional intelligence measurement. In his "triarchic" view of intelligence, Sternberg proposed three types of "smartness":

• componential ability for analytical thinking

• experiential ability to engage in creative thinking, combining disparate experiences in insightful ways

• contextual ability: "street smartness" that enables people to "play the game" of manipulating their environment (others, situations, institutions, contexts).

Sternberg contended that too much of psychometric theory is obsessed with mental speed, and therefore dedicated his research to tests that measure insight, real-1ife problem solving, "common sense," getting a wider picture of things, and other practical tasks that are closely related to success in the real world.

Finally, in another effort to remind us of the bias of traditional definitions and tests of intelligence, Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence (1995) is persuasive in placing emotion at the seat of intellectual funtioning. The management of even a handful of core emotions -- anger, fear, enjoyment, love, disgust, shame, and others -- drives and controls efficient mental or cognitive processing. Even more to the point, Goleman argued that "the emotional mind is far quicker than the rational mind, springing into action without even pausing to consider what it is doing. Its quickness precludes the deliberate, analytic reflection that is the hallmark of the thinking mind" (Goleman 1995: 291). Gardner's sixth and seventh types of intelligence (inter- and intrapersonal) are of course laden with emotional processing, but Goleman would place emotion at the highest level of a hierarchy of human abilities.

By expanding constructs of intelligence as Gardner, Sternberg, and Goleman have done, we can more easily discern a relationship between intelligence and second language learning. In its traditional definition, intelligence may have little to do with one's success as an L2 language learner: people within a wide range of IQs have proven to be successful in acquiring a second language. But Gardner attaches other important attributes to the notion of intelligence, attributes that could be crucial to second language success. Musical intelligence could explain the relative ease that some learners have in perceiving and producing the intonation patterns of a language. Bodily-kinesthetic modes have already been discussed in connection with the learning of the phonology of a language. (p101end-p102begin)

Interpersonal intelligence is of obvious importance in the communicative process. Intrapersonal factors will be discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of this book. One might even be able to speculate on the extent to which spatial intelligence, especially a "sense of direction," may assist the second culture learner in growing comfortable in a new environment. Sternberg's experiential and contextual abilities cast further light on the components of the "knack" that some people have for quick, efficient, unabashed language acquisition. Finally, the EQ (emotional quotient) suggested by Goleman may be far more important than any other factor in accounting for L2 success both in classrooms and in untutored contexts.

Educational institutions have recently been applying Gardner's seven intelligences to a multitude of school-oriented learning. Thomas Armstrong (1993, 1994), for example, has focused teachers and learners on "seven ways of being smart," and helped educators to see that linguistics and logical-mathematical intelligences are not the only pathways to success in the real world. A high IQ in the traditional sense may garner high scholastic test scores, but may not indicate success in business, marketing, art, communications, counseling, or teaching.

Quite some time ago, Oller suggested, in an eloquent essay, that intelligence may after all be language-based. "Language may not be merely a vital link in the social side of intellectual development, it may be the very foundation of intelligence itself" (1981a: 466). According to Oller, arguments from genetics and neurology suggest "a deep relationship, perhaps even an identity, between intelligence and language ability" (p. 487). The implications of Oller's hypothesis for second language learning are enticing. Both first and second languages must be closely tied to meaning in its deepest sense. Effective second language learning thus links surface forms of a language with meaningful experiences, as we have already noted in Ausubel's learning theory. The strength of that link may indeed be a factor of intelligence in a multiple number of ways.

* * * * *

We have much to gain from the understanding of learning principles that have been presented here, and of the various ways of understanding what intelligence is. Some aspects of language learning may call upon a conditioning process; other aspects require a meaningful cognitive process; others depend upon the security of supportive co-learners interacting freely and willingly with one another; still others are related to one's total intellectual structure. Each aspect is important, but there is no consistent amalgamation of theory that works for every context of L2 learning. Each teacher has to adopt a somewhat intuitive process of discerning the best synthesis of theory for an enlightened analysis of the (p103begin) particular context at hand. That intuition will be nurtured by an integrated understanding of the appropriateness and of the strengths and weaknesses of each theory of learning.

Contents of this page

04.10.02. Suggestopedia

Suggestopedia was another educational innovation that promised great results if we would simply use our brain power. According to Lozanov (1979), people are capable of learning much more than they give themselves credit for. Drawing on insights from Soviet psychological research on extrasensory perception and from yoga, Lozanov created a method for learning that capitalized on relaxed states of mind for maximum retention of material. Music was central to his method. Baroque music, with its 60 beats per minute and its specific rhythm, created the kind of "relaxed concentration" that led to "superlearning" (Ostrander & Schroeder 1979: 65). According to Lozanov, during the soft playing of Baroque music, one can take in tremendous quantities of material due to an increase in alpha brain waves and a decrease in blood pressure and pulse rate.

In applications of Suggestopedia to foreign language learning, Lozanov and his followers experimented with the presentation of vocabulary, readings, dialogs, role-plays, drama, and a variety of other typical classroom activities. Some of the classroom methodology did not have any particular uniqueness. The difference was that a significant proportion of activity was carried on with classical music in the background, and with students sitting in soft, comfortable seats in relaxed states of consciousness. Students were encouraged to be as "childlike" as possible, yielding all authority to the teacher and sometimes assuming the roles (and names) of native speakers of the foreign language. Students thus became "suggestible."

Suggestopedia was criticized on a number of fronts. Scovel (1979) showed quite eloquently that Lozanov's experimental data, in which he reported astounding results with Suggestopedia, were highly questionable. Moreover, the practicality of using Suggestopedia was an issue that teachers faced where music and comfortable chairs were not available. More serious was the issue of the place of memorization in language learning. On a more positive note, we can adapt certain aspects of Suggestopedia in our communicative classrooms without "buying into" the whole method. A relaxed and unanxious mind, achieved through music and/or any other means, will often help a learner to build confidence. Role playing, drama, and other activities may be very helpful techniques to stimulate meaningful interaction in the classroom. And perhaps we should never underestimate the "superlearning" powers of the human brain.

Contents of this page

04.10.03. The Silent Way

Like Suggestopedia, the Silent Way rested on more cognitive than affective arguments for its theoretical sustenance. While Caleb Gattegno, its founder, was said to be interested in a "humanistic" approach (Chamot & McKeon 1984: 2) to education, much of the Silent Way was characterized by a problem-solving approach to learning. Richards and Rodgers (1986: 99) summarized the theory of learning behind the Silent Way:

1. Learning is facilitated if the learner discovers or creates rather than remembers and repeats what is to be learned.

2. Learning is facilitated by accompanying (mediating) physical objects.

3. Learning is facilitated by problem solving involving the material to be learned.

The Silent Way capitalized on discovery-learning procedures. Gattegno (1972) believed that learners should develop independence, autonomy, and responsibility. At the same time, learners in a classroom must cooperate with each other in the process of solving language problems. The teacher -- a stimulator but not a hand-holder -- is silent much of the time, thus the name of the method. Teachers must resist their instinct to spell everything out in black and white -- to come to the aid of students at the slightest downfall -- and must "get out of the way" while students work out solutions. In a language classroom the Silent Way typically utilized as materials a set of Cuisinere rods -- small colored rods of varying lengths-and a series of colorful wall charts. The rods were used to introduce vocabulary (colors, numbers, adjectives [long, short, and so on], verbs [give, take, pick up, drop]), and syntax (tense, comparatives, pluralization, word order, and the like). The teacher provided single-word stimuli, or short phrases and sentences once or twice, and then the students refined their understanding and pronunciation among themselves, with minimal corrective feedback from the teacher. The charts introduced pronunciation models and grammatical paradigms.

Like Suggestopedia, the Silent Way had its share of criticism. In one sense, the Silent Way was too harsh a method, and the teacher too distant, to encourage a communicative atmosphere. A number of aspects of language can indeed be "told" to students to their benefit; they need not, as in CLL as well, struggle for hours or days with a concept that could be easily clarified by the teacher's direct guidance. The rods and charts wore thin after a few lessons, and other materials had to be introduced, at which point the Silent Way resembled any other language classroom. (p107begin)

There are, of course, insights to be derived. All too often we are tempted as teachers to provide everything for our students, served up on a silver platter. We could benefit from injecting healthy doses of discovery learning into our classroom activities and from providing less teacher talk so that the students can work things out on their own. These are some of the contributions of innovation. They expose us to new thoughts that we can -- through our developing theoretical rationale for language teaching -- sift through, weigh, and adapt to multiple contexts.

Contents of this page

04.10.04. Total Physical Response (TPR)

The founder of the Total Physical Response (TPR), James Asher (1977), noted that children, in learning their first language, appear to do a lot of listening before they speak, and that their listening is accompanied by physical responses (reaching, grabbing, moving, looking, and so forth). He also gave some attention to right-brain learning. According to Asher, motor activity is a right-brain function that should precede left-brain language processing. Asher was also convinced that language classes were often the locus of too much anxiety and wished to devise a method that was as stress-free as possible, where learners would not feel overly self-conscious and defensive. The TPR classroom, then, was one in which students did a great deal of listening and acting. The teacher was very directive in orchestrating a performance: "The instructor is the director of a stage play in which the students are the actors" (Asher 1977: 43).

A typical TPR class utilized the imperative mood, even at more advanced proficiency levels. Commands were an easy way to get learners to move about and to loosen up: "Open the window," "Close the door," "Stand up," "Sit down," "Pick up the book," "Give it to John," and so on. No verbal response was necessary. More complex syntax was incorporated into the imperative: "Draw a rectangle on the chalkboard." "Walk quickly to the door and hit it:' Humor was easy to introduce: "Walk slowly to the window and jump." "Put your toothbrush in your book" (Asher 1977: 55) .Interrogatives were also easily dealt with: "Where is the book?" "Who is John?" (students point to the book or to John). Eventually students, one by one, presumably felt comfortable enough to venture verbal responses to questions, then to ask questions themselves, and the process continued.

Like other methods discussed here, TPR -- as a method -- had its limitations. It was especially effective in the beginning levels of language proficiency, but lost its distinctiveness as learners advanced in their competence. But today TPR is used more as a type of classroom activity, which is a more useful way to view it. Many successful communicative, interactive classrooms utilize TPR activities to provide both auditory input and physical activity.

Contents of this page

04.10.05. Natural Approach

Stephen Krashen's (1982) theories of L2 language acquisition have been widely discussed and hotly debated since the 1970s. (Chapter 10 will offer further details on Krashen's influence on second language acquisition theory.) The major methodological offshoot of Krashen's work was manifested in the Natural Approach, developed by one of Krashen's colleagues, Tracy Terrell (Krashen & Terrell 1983). Acting on many of the claims that Asher made for TPR, Krashen and Terrell felt that learners would benefit from delaying production until speech "emerges," that learners should be as relaxed as possible in the classroom, and that a great deal of communication and "acquisition" should take place, as opposed to analysis. In fact, the Natural Approach advocated the use of TPR activities at the beginning level of language learning, when "comprehensible input" is essential for triggering the acquisition of language.

The Natural Approach was aimed at the goal of basic interpersonal communication skills, that is, everyday language situations -- conversations, shopping, listening to the radio, and the like. The initial task of the teacher was to provide comprehensible input -- spoken language that is understandable to the learner -- or just a little beyond the learner's level. Learners did not need to say anything during this "silent period" until they felt ready to do so. The teacher was the source of the learners' input and the creator of an interesting and stimulating variety of classroom activities -- commands, games, skits, and small-group work.

The most controversial aspects of the Natural Approach were its "silent period" and its reliance on the notion of "comprehensible input." One could argue, with Gibbons (1985), that the delay of oral production can be pushed too far and that at an early stage it is important for the teacher to step in and encourage students to talk. And determining just what we mean by "comprehensible" is exceedingly difficult (see Chapter 10 for further comments). Language learning is an interactive process, and therefore an over-reliance on the role of input at the expense of the stimulation of output could thwart the second language acquisition process.

But, of course, we also can look at the Natural Approach and be reminded that sometimes we insist that students speak much too soon, thereby raising anxiety and lessening the possibility of further risk-taking as the learner tries to progress. And so, once again, your responsibility as a teacher is to choose the best of what others have experimented with, and to adapt those insights to your own situation. There is a good deal of insight to be gained, and intuition to be developed, from examining the merits of all of these five "designer" methods. Those insights and intuitions can become a part of your own cautious, enlightened eclecticism.

Contents of this page


• Lightbown, Patsy and Spada, Nina. 1993. How Languages Are Learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

• Mitchell, Rosamond and Myers, Florence. 1998. Second Language Learning Theories. New York: Oxford University Press.

Contents of this page


UKT 101206: Remember "culture" includes religion and our changing views on the world religions. And as we acquire new languages our views on our own religion is bound to change. The meanings of some words in our native language are also bound to change. My personal experience in teaching Theravada Buddhism to my Buddhist grandsons who were born outside Myanmar (and who are now living in Canada) shows that my presentation has to be drastically changed. For example, in trying to explain the difference in words such as "God" and "Buddha", I have to stop using {Bu.ra:} for "God" and use {hpûn hsïn: rhïn} 'the Creator'. For "Buddha", I have to use 'the human person who has acquired the ultimate knowledge'. 

Because learning an L2 language implies some degree of learning a second culture, it is important to understand what we mean by the process of culture learning. Robinson-Stuart and Nocon (1996) synthesized some of the perspectives on culture learning that we have seen in recent decades. They observed that the notion that culture learning is a "magic carpet ride to another culture," achieved as an automatic by product of language instruction, is a misconception. Many students in foreign language classrooms learn the language with little or no sense of the depth of cultural norms and patterns of the people who speak the language. Another perspective was the notion that a foreign language curriculum could present culture as "a list of facts to be cognitively consumed " (p. 434) by the student, devoid of any significant interaction with the culture. Casting those perspectives aside as ineffective and misconceived, Robinson-Stuart and Nocon suggested that language learners undergo culture learning as a "process, that is, as a way of perceiving, interpreting, feeling, being in the world, ...and relating to where one is and who one meets" (p. 432). Culture learning is a process of creating shared meaning between cultural representatives. It is experiential, a process that continues over years of language learning, and penetrates deeply into one's patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting.

L2 learning, as we saw in the previous chapter in the discussion of language ego, involves the acquisition of a second identity. This creation of a new identity is at the heart of culture learning, or what some might call acculturation. If a French person is primarily cognitive-oriented and an American is psychomotor-oriented and a Spanish speaker is affective-oriented, as claimed by Condon (1973: 22), it is not difficult on this plane alone to understand the complexity of the process of becoming oriented to a new culture. A reorientation of thinking and feeling, not to mention communication, is necessary. Consider the implications:

To a European or a South American, the overall impression created by American culture is that of a frantic, perpetual round of actions which leave practically no time for personal feeling and reflection. But, to an American, the reasonable and orderly tempo of French life conveys a sense of hopeless backwardness and ineffectuality; and the leisurely timelessness of Spanish  activities represents an appalling waste of time and human potential. And, to a Spanish speaker, the methodical essence of planned change in France may seem cold-blooded, just as much as his own proclivity toward spur-of-the-moment decisions may strike his French counterpart as recklessly irresponsible. (Condon 1973: 25) (p183begin)

The process of acculturation runs even deeper when language is brought into the picture. To be sure, culture is a deeply ingrained part of the very fiber of our being, but language -- the means for communication among members of a culture -- is the most visible and available expression of that culture. And so a person's world view, self-identity, and systems of thinking, acting, feeling, and communicating can be disrupted by a contact with another culture.

Sometimes that disruption is severe, in which case a person may experience culture shock. Culture shock refers to phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep psychological panic and crisis. Culture shock is associated with feelings of estrangement, anger, hostility, indecision, frustration, unhappiness, sadness, loneliness, homesickness, and even physical illness. Persons undergoing culture shock view their new world out of resentment and alternate between self-pity and anger at others for not understanding them. Edward Hall (1959: 59) described a hypothetical example of an American living abroad for the first time.

At first, things in the cities look pretty much alike. There are taxis, hotels with hot and cold running water, theaters, neon lights, even tall buildings with elevators and a few people who can speak English. But pretty soon the American discovers that underneath the familiar exterior there are vast differences. When someone says "yes" it often doesn't mean yes at all, and when people smile it doesn't always mean they are pleased. When the American visitor makes a helpful gesture he may be rebuffed; when he tries to be friendly nothing happens. People tell him that they will do things and don't. The longer he stays, the more enigmatic the new country looks.

This case of an American in Japan illustrates the point that persons in a second culture may initially be comfortable and delighted with the "exotic" surroundings. As long as they can perceptually filter their surroundings and internalize the environment in their own world view, they feel at ease. As soon as this newness wears off and the cognitive and affective contradictions of the foreign culture mount up, they become disoriented.

It is common to describe culture shock as the second of four successive stages of culture acquisition:

1. Stage 1 is a period of excitement and euphoria over the newness of the surroundings.

2. Stage 2-culture shock-emerges as individuals feel the intrusion of more and more cultural differences into their own images of (p184begin) self and security. In this stage individuals rely on and seek out the support of their fellow countrymen in the second culture, taking solace in complaining about local customs and conditions, seeking escape from their predicament.

3. Stage 3 is one of gradual, and at first tentative and vacillating, recovery. This stage is typified by what Larson and Smalley (1972) called "culture stress": some problems of acculturation are solved while other problems continue for some time. But general progress is made, slowly but surely, as individuals begin to accept the differences in thinking and feeling that surround them, slowly becoming more empathic with other persons in the second culture.

4. Stage 4 represents near or full recovery, either assimilation or adaptation, acceptance of the new culture and self-confidence in the "new" person that has developed in this culture.

Wallace Lambert's (1967) work on attitudes in L2 learning referred often to Durkheim's (1897) concept of anomie -- feelings of social uncertainty or dissatisfaction -- as a significant aspect of the relationship between language learning and attitude toward the foreign culture. As individuals begin to lose some of the ties of their native culture and to adapt to the second culture, they experience feelings of chagrin or regret, mixed with the fearful anticipation of entering a new group. Anomie might be described as the first symptom of the third stage of acculturation, a feeling of homelessness, where one feels neither bound firmly to one's native culture nor fully adapted to the second culture.

Lambert's research supported the view that the strongest dose of anomie is experienced when linguistically a person begins to "master" the foreign language. In Lambert's (1967) study, for example, when English-speaking Canadians became so skilled in French that they began to "think" in French and even dream in French, feelings of anomie were markedly high. For Lambert's subjects the interaction of anomie and increased skill in the language sometimes led persons to revert or to "regress" back to English -- to seek out situations in which they could speak English. Such an urge corresponds to the tentativeness of the third stage of acculturation – periodic reversion to the escape mechanisms acquired in the earlier stage of culture shock. Not until a person is well into the third stage do feelings of anomie decrease because the learner is "over the hump" in the transition to adaptation.

The culture shock stage of acculturation need not be depicted as a point when learners are unwitting and helpless victims of circumstance. Peter Adler (1972: 14) noted that culture shock, while surely possessing manifestations of crisis, can also be viewed more positively as a profound cross-cultural learning experience, a set of situations or circumstances (p185begin) involving intercultural communication in which the individual, as a result of the experiences, becomes aware of his own growth, learning and change. As a result of the culture shock process, the individual has gained a new perspective on himself, and has come to understand his own identity in terms significant to himself. The cross-cultural learning experience, additionally, takes place when the individual encounters a different culture and as a result (a) examines the degree to which he is influenced by his own culture, and (b) understands the culturally derived values, attitudes and outlooks of other people.

Contents of this page


UKT 151214: See my work on LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT
- lang-thot-indx.htm (link chk 151214)

No discussion about cultural variables in L2 acquisition is complete without some treatment of the relationship between language and thought. We saw in the case of L1 acquisition that cognitive development and linguistic development go hand in hand, each interacting with and shaping the other. It is commonly observed that the manner in which an idea or "fact" is stated affects the way we conceptualize the idea. Words shape our lives. The advertising world is a prime example of the use of language to shape, persuade, and dissuade. "Weasel words" tend to glorify very ordinary products into those that are "unsurpassed," "ultimate, " "supercharged," and "the right choice." In the case of food that has been sapped of most of its nutrients by the manufacturing process, we are told that these products are now "enriched" and "fortified." A foreigner in the United States once remarked that in the United States there are no "small" eggs, only "medium," "large," "extra large," and "jumbo."

Euphemisms abound in American culture where certain thoughts are taboo or certain words connote something less than desirable. We are persuaded by industry, for example, that "receiving waters" are the lakes or rivers into which industrial wastes are dumped and that "assimilative capacity" refers to how much of the waste can be dumped into the river before it starts to show. Garbage men are "sanitary engineers"; toilets are "rest rooms"; slums are "substandard dwellings." And when it comes to (p197begin)  reporting on military conflicts like the Gulf War of 1991 or the Kosovo War of 1999, deaths are referred to as "collateral damage."

Figure 7.1. Euphemisms

Verbal labels can shape the way we store events for later recall. In a classic study, Carmichael, Hogan, and Walter (1932) found that when subjects were briefly exposed to figures like those in Figure 7.1 and later asked to reproduce them, the reproductions were influenced by the labels assigned to the figures.

For example, the first drawing tended to be reproduced as something like this if the subjects had seen the "eyeglasses" label: . Or like this if they had seen the dumbbells label:

Words are not the only linguistic category affecting thought. The way a sentence is structured will affect nuances of meaning. Elizabeth Loftus (1976) discovered that subtle differences in the structure of questions can affect the answer a person gives. For example, after viewing a film of an automobile accident, subjects were asked questions like "Did you see the broken headlight?" in some cases, and in other cases "Did you see a broken headlight?" Questions using "the" tended to produce more false recognition of events. The presence of the definite article led subjects to believe that (p198begin) there was a broken headlight whether they saw it or not. Similar results were found for questions like "Did you see some people watching the accident?" versus "Did you see any people watching the accident?" or even for questions containing a presupposition: "How fast was the car going when it hit the stop sign?" (presupposing both the existence of a stop sign and that the car hit a stop sign whether the subject actually saw it or not).

On the discourse level of language, we are familiar with the persuasiveness of an emotional speech or a well-written novel. How often has a gifted orator swayed opinion and thought? Or a powerful editorial moved one to action or change? These are common examples of the influence of language on our cognitive and affective states.

Culture is really an integral part of the interaction between language and thought. Cultural patterns of cognition and customs are sometimes explicitly coded in language. Conversational discourse styles, for example, may be a factor of culture. Consider the "directness" of discourse of some cultures: in the US, for example, casual conversation is said to be less frank and more concerned about face-saving than conversation in Greece (Kakava 1995), and therefore a Greek conversation may be more confrontational than a conversation in the US. In Japanese, the relationship of one's interlocutor is almost always expressed explicitly, either verbally and/or nonverbally. Perhaps those forms shape one's perception of others in relation to self.

Lexical items may reflect something about the intersection of culture and cognition. Color categorization has been cited as a factor of one's linguistic lexicon. Gleason (1961: 4) noted that the Shona of Rhodesia and the Bassa of Liberia have fewer color categories than speakers of European languages and they break up the spectrum at different points. Of course, the Shona or Bassa are able to perceive and describe other colors, in the same way that an English speaker might describe a" dark bluish green," but according to Gleason the labels that the language provides tend to shape the person's overall cognitive organization of color and to cause varying degrees of color discrimination.

You might be tempted at this point to say, "Ah, yes, and I hear that the Eskimos have many different words for 'snow,' which explains why they are able to discriminate types of snow better than English speakers." This claim is one of the myths about language "that refuses to die" (Scovel 1999: 1), a vocabulary "hoax" (Pullum 1991) perpetuated along with other myths about Eskimos, such as rubbing noses and throwing Grandma out to be eaten by polar bears (Pinker 1994: 64). The problem lies not only in the fact that there is no single language called "Eskimo," but that "languages spoken in northeastern Canada like Inuit do not have a disproportionately large number of words for this cold white stuff" (Scovel. 1999: 1).

Another popular misconception about language and cognition came (p199begin) from Whorf's (1956) claims about the expression of time in Hopi. Arguing that Hopi contains no grammatical forms that refer to "time," Whorl suggested that Hopi had "no general notion or intuition of time" (Carroll 1956: 57). The suggestion was so enticingly supportive of the linguistic determinism hypothesis (see below) that gradually Whorf's claim became accepted as fact. It is interesting that several decades later, Malotki (1983) showed that Hopi speech does contain tense, metaphors for time, units of time, and ways to quantify units of time!

A tantalizing question emerges from such observations. Does language reflect a cultural world view, or does language actually shape the world view? Drawing on the ideas of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835), who claimed that language shaped a person's Weltanschauung, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf proposed a hypothesis that has now been given several alternative labels: the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the Whorfian hypothesis, linguistic relativity, or linguistic determinism. Whorf (1956: 212-214) summed up the hypothesis:

The background linguistic system (in other words, the grammar) of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual's mental activity, for his analysis of impressions, for his synthesis of his mental stock in trade. Formulation of ideas is not an independent process, strictly rational in the old sense, but is part of a particular grammar and differs, from slightly to greatly, as between different grammars. We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds -- and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significance as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way -- an agreement that holds through our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language. The agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, but its terms are absolutely obligatory; we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees.

Over the years, the Whorfian hypothesis has unfortunately been overstated and misinterpreted. Guiora (1981: 177) criticized Whorf's claim that the influence of language on behavior was "undifferentiated, all pervasive, (p200begin) permanent and absolute"; Guiora called these claims "extravagant." It would appear that it was Guiora's interpretation that was extravagant, for he put ideas into Whorf's writings that were never there. Clarke, Losoff, McCracken, and Rood (1984: 57), in a careful review of Whorf's writings, eloquently demonstrated that the Whorfian hypothesis was not nearly as monolithic or causal as some would interpret it to be. "The 'extravagant claims' made in the name of linguistic relativity were not made by Whorf, and attributing to him simplistic views of linguistic determination serves only to obscure the usefulness of his insights."

The language teaching profession today has actually subscribed to a more moderate view of the Whorfian hypothesis, if only because of the mounting evidence of the interaction of language and culture. A quarter of a century ago, in the spirit of those who have exposed the mythical nature of many of the claims about linguistic determinism, Ronald Wardhaugh (1976: 74) offered the following alternative to a strong view of the Whorfian hypothesis:

The most valid conclusion to all such studies is that it appears possible to talk about anything in any language provided the speaker is willing to use some degree of circumlocution. Some concepts are more "codable," that is, easier to express, in some languages than in others. The speaker, of course, will not be aware of the circumlocution in the absence of familiarity with another language that uses a more succinct means of expression. Every natural language provides both a language for talking about every other language, that is, a meta-language, and an entirely adequate apparatus for making any kinds of observations that need to be made about the world. If such is the case, every natural language must be an extremely rich system which readily allows its speakers to overcome any predispositions that exist.

So, while some aspects of language seem to provide us with potential cognitive mind sets (e.g., in English, the passive voice, the tense system, "weasel words:' and lexical items), we can also recognize that through both language and culture, some universal properties bind us all together in one world. The act of learning to think in another language may require a considerable degree of mastery of that language, but a L2 learner does not have to learn to think, in general, all over again. As in every other human learning experience, the L2 learner can make positive use of prior experiences to facilitate the process of learning by retaining that which is valid and valuable for second culture learning and L2 learning.

Contents of this page

UKT notes

Ann M. Peters (1938-  )

UKT: Not listed in Wikipedia.
Author of The units of language acquisition, Univ. of Hawaii, originally published by Cambridge Univ. Press in 1973
A pdf (4 pages only) is available in TIL SD-Library - AMPeters-Units<Ô> (link chk 151214).

Dr. Ann M. Peters, Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Hawaii
email: ann@hawaii.edu http://www2.hawaii.edu/~ann/

Go back A-Peters-note-b

Contents of this page


anomie or anomy n. 1. Social instability caused by steady erosion of standards and values. 2. Alienation and purposelessness experienced by a person or a class as a result of a lack of standards and values. 3. Personal disorganization resulting in unsocial behavior. [French from Greek anomia lawlessness from anomos lawless a- without; See a- 1 nomos law; See nem- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD

Go back anomie-note-b

Contents of this page

Carl Rogers (1902-1987)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Rogers 080227
• Greg Kearsley. Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice Database by Greg Kearsley. Copyright 1994-2001 JSU Encyclopedia of Psychology at http://www.psychology.org/

From Wikipedia

Carl Ransom Rogers (Jan 8 1902 - Feb 4 1987) was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. Rogers is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association in 1956. The Person-centered approach, his own unique approach to understanding personality and human relationships, found wide application in various domains such as psychotherapy and counseling (Client-centered therapy), education (Student-centered learning), organizations, and other group settings. For his professional work he was bestowed the Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology by the APA in 1972. Towards the end of his life Carl Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with national intergroup conflict in South Africa and Northern Ireland. In an empirical study by Haggbloom et al. (2002) using six criteria such as citations and recognition, Rogers was found to be the 6th most eminent psychologist of the 20th Century and among clinicians, second only to Sigmund Freud.

Theory: The theory of Carl Rogers is considered to be humanistic and phenomenological. His theory is based directly on the "phenomenal field" personality theory of Combs and Snygg (1949). Rogers' elaboration of his own theory is extensive. He wrote 16 books and many more journal articles describing it.

UKT 080227, 151202: Even after a cursory look into what was given in the whole of Wikipedia article, I feel that Buddhists should look into Carl's Rogers work to get an idea of Self or {ût~ta.} 'I, me, my'. Only then they should try to locate it. Buddha tried to find it as an unchanging entity, and when he found it to be just an "idea" or perception, he rejected it, and came up with his doctrine of Anatta or {a.nût~ta.}.

Why be content sucking your thumb?
Big Toe is the better one!
Inevitably the Hair Cut will surely come!

In the meantime, go on dreaming of becoming a king,
Living on promises of Axiomatic religious teachers
Who themselves have died
Not to be found among the Living on this Earth!

I insist, the First Buddhism is just as Science as Modern Science is. It is not based on Axioms. Sure, it uses Axioms, just as we use Geometry which is based on the idea of an Axiomatic Point, x=0, y=0, z=0, mass = 0. The usefulness of Geometry does not prove that the Point exist. The shaking of a leaf does not prove that God exist!

UKT- More in the Wikipedia article.


From: Greg Kearsley

Experiential Learning (C. Rogers)

Overview: Rogers distinguished two types of learning: cognitive (meaningless) and experiential (significant). The former corresponds to academic knowledge such as learning vocabulary or multiplication tables and the latter refers to applied knowledge such as learning about engines in order to repair a car. The key to the distinction is that experiential learning addresses the needs and wants of the learner. Rogers lists these qualities of experiential learning: personal involvement, self-initiated, evaluated by learner, and pervasive effects on learner.

To Rogers, experiential learning is equivalent to personal change and growth. Rogers feels that all human beings have a natural propensity to learn; the role of the teacher is to facilitate such learning. This includes: (1) setting a positive climate for learning, (2) clarifying the purposes of the learner(s), (3) organizing and making available learning resources, (4) balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning, and (5) sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating.

According to Rogers, learning is facilitated when: (1) the student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction, (2) it is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems, and (3) self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success. Rogers also emphasizes the importance of learning to learn and an openness to change.

Roger's theory of learning evolved as part of the humanistic education movement (e.g., Patterson, 1973; Valett, 1977).
Scope/Application: Roger's theory of learning originates from his views about psychotherapy and humanistic approach to psychology. It applies primarily to adult learners and has influenced other theories of adult learning such as Knowles and Cross. Combs (1982) examines the significance of Roger's work to education. Rogers & Frieberg (1994) discuss applications of the experiential learning framework to the classroom.

Example: A person interested in becoming rich might seek out books or classes on economics, investment, great financiers, banking, etc. Such an individual would perceive (and learn) any information provided on this subject in a much different fashion than a person who is assigned a reading or class.

Significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student 
Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at a minimum
3. Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low.
Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive.
• Combs, A.W. (1982). Affective education or none at all. Educational Leadership, 39(7), 494-497.
• Patterson, C.H. (1973). Humanistic Education. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
• Rogers, C.R. (1969). Freedom to Learn. Columbus, OH: Merrill.
• Rogers, C.R. & Freiberg, H.J. (1994). Freedom to Learn (3rd Ed). Columbus, OH: Merrill/Macmillan.
• Valett, R.E. (1977). Humanistic Education. St Louis, MO: Mosby.

Go back C-Rogers-note-b

Contents of this page

David Ausubel

UKT: See another note on David Ausubel in ch01.htm

From: Learning Theories and Models, Pennsylvania State University www.personal.psu.edu/staff/j/l/jill191/knowledgebase

Meaningful Learning occurs when learners actively interpret their experience using internal, cognitive operations.  Prior knowledge is the most significant in determining what new learning will occur. "The model of cognitive organization proposed for the learning and retention of meaningful materials assumes the existence of a cognitive structure that is hierarchically organized." (Ausubel, 1963, p. 217)
     Key Concepts taken from class notes, EdPsy 421 Fall '95: 
• Cognitive Structure: the learner's overall memory structure or integrated body of knowledge.
• Anchoring Ideas: the specific, relevant ideas in the learner's cognitive structure that provide the entry points for new information to be connected.
• Reception Learning: the entire content of what is to be learned is presented to the learner in its final form.
Discovery Learning: learners are required to rearrange a given array of information, integrate it with existing cognitive structures, and reorganize the integrated combination in such a way as to create a desired end product.
Rote Learning: the learner memorizes and makes no connection between what was known and what was memorized.
• Meaningful Learning: the process of relating potentially meaningful information to what the learner already knows in a substantive way. 
• Representational Learning: learning the meanings of unitary symbols or words. This is the most basic form of learning and serves as a foundation for all other learning to occur.
• Conception Learning: knowing beyond representation -- understanding the critical attributes that surround a concept and differentiate it from other concepts.
• Prepositional Learning: the meanings of new ideas expressed in verbal prepositions are acquired -- individual words and concepts are now combined to form a new idea -- inferences are now being made by the learner.
Cognitive structure and anchoring ideas within the cognitive structure are the prerequisites to meaningful learning.
• class notes, EdPsy 421 .
• Ausubel, D. (1963). The psychology of meaningful verbal learning. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Go back D-Ausubel-note-b

Contents of this page

Frank Smith (psycholinguist)

• Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Smith_psycholinguist_ 080227
• From: www.languagebooks.com 

From Wikipedia

Frank Smith is a psycholinguist well know for his research into educational systems and the nature of learning.
   He was a reporter, editor, and novelist before beginning his formal research into language, thinking, and learning. He has been a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
• Smith, Frank. Reading Without Nonsense. Teachers College Press. 
• Smith, Frank (1998). The book of learning and forgetting. Teachers College Press.
• Smith, Frank (2002). The Glass Wall: Why Mathematics Can Seem Difficult. Teachers College Press.
• Smith, Frank (2007). Reading: FAQ. Teachers College Press.

From: www.ncte.org/convention/global/gloabal.pdf .

Frank Smith, known for his impressive background in literacy research, has been at the forefront in the development of literacy and the language arts for more than 20 years. In that time, he has published short story collections, poetry, a novel, and more than 20 books concerned with language and educational development. Dr. Smith’s current research  interests (yr. 2000) focus on the social and cultural consequences of human technology, including language. Some of Smith’s most well-known work includes: Reading without Nonsense, Writing and the Writer, Insult to Intelligence, Comprehension and Learning, Essays into Literacy, and Between Hope and Havoc: Essays into Human Learning. Mr. Smith is currently completing a book entitled A Mind for Mathematics.

From: www.languagebooks.com 

Frank Smith is a writer and researcher living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. He was born in England, took his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Australia, and has a Ph.D in psycholinguistics from Harvard University. As a reporter and editor, he was on the staff of a number of newspapers and magazines in Europe and Australia. As a researcher, he has been associated with many projects concerned with literacy and language education. He was a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the Linguistics Department of the University of Toronto for 12 years, and for three years was Lansdowne Professor of Language in Education at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. In 1992 he was distinguished visiting professor and head of the new Department of Applied English Language Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Frank Smith has published short stories, poetry, a novel, and twenty books concerned with language and education, including Insult to Intelligence and Joining the Literacy Club (both published by Heinemann Educational Books) and he has a book entitled The Book of Learning and Forgetting in press with Teachers College Press. His current research interests focus on mathematics, and on the social, cultural and intellectual consequences of all human technology, including language.

Go back F-Smith-note-b

Contents of this page

George Miller

From Wikipedia,
• 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_A._Miller 080227
• 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magical_Number_Seven,_Plus_or_Minus_Two 080227

From Wikipedia #1

George Armitage Miller, born (Feb 3, 1920 - ), is a professor of psychology at Princeton University. He formerly served as Professor of Psychology at Rockefeller University, MIT and at Harvard University, where he was Chairman of the Department of Psychology. He was a Fulbright Research Fellow at Oxford University and served as the President of the American Psychological Association. His most famous work was The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information, which was published in 1956 in The Psychological Review.
In 1960, Miller founded the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard with Jerome Bruner, a cognitive developmentalist. In the same year he published 'Plans and the Structure of Behaviour' (with Eugene Galanter and Karl Pribram), which outlined their conception of Cognitive Psychology.
   In the linguistics community, Miller is well-known for overseeing the development of WordNet, a semantic network for the English language. Development began in 1985 and the project has received about $3 million of funding, mainly from government agencies interested in machine translation.
   In 1991, Miller received National Medal of Science.
   In 1956, Miller suggested that seven (plus or minus two) was the magic number that characterized people's memory performance on random lists of letters, words, numbers, or almost any kind of meaningful familiar item.
   He is also known for coining Miller's Law: In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of.

From Wikipedia #2

"The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" is a 1956 paper by the cognitive psychologist George A. Miller. In it Miller showed a number of remarkable coincidences between the channel capacity of a number of human cognitive and perceptual tasks. In each case, the effective channel capacity is equivalent to between 5 and 9 equally-weighted error-less choices: on average, about 2.5 bits of information. Miller hypothesized that these may all be due to some common but unknown underlying mechanism.

Go back G-Miller-note-b

Contents of this page

Humanistic Psychology

UKT 151202
Now that I am becoming more familiar with Hindu ideas because of my work on A.A. Macdonell, A Practical Sanskrit Dictiony, I am looking into my older works which includes Language and Meaning in various languages of BEPS
- lang-mean-indx.htm (link chk 151202)

• Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_psychology 080227
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_psychology 151202
• Based on F. J. Wertz The Role of the Humanistic Movement in the History of Psychology Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol.38 No.1, Winter 1998 42-70 www.lpiper.demon.co.uk/hpvoices/wertz1.htm
www.lpiper.demon.co.uk/hpvoices/wertz2.htm, and other sources.

From Wikipedia

Humanistic psychology is a school of psychology that emerged in the 1950s in reaction to both behaviorism and psychoanalysis. It is explicitly concerned with the human dimension of psychology and the human context for the development of psychological theory. These matters are often summarized by the five postulates of Humanistic Psychology given by James Bugental (1964), mainly that:

1. Human beings cannot be reduced to components.
2. Human beings have in them a uniquely human context.
3. Human consciousness includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.
4. Human beings have choices and non desired responsibilities.
5. Human beings are intentional, they seek meaning, value and creativity.

The humanistic approach has its roots in existentialist thought (see Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre). It is also sometimes understood within the concept of the three different forces of psychology; behaviorism, psychoanalysis and humanism. [UKT ¶]

Behaviorism grew out of Ivan Pavlov's work with the conditioned reflex, and laid the foundations for academic psychology in the United States associated with the names of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner. This school was later called the science of behavior. Abraham Maslow later gave behaviorism the name "the second force". The "first force" came out of Freud's research of psychoanalysis, and the psychologies of Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein, Harry Stack Sullivan, and others. These theorists focused on the depth of the human psyche, which they stressed, must be combined with those of the conscious mind in order to produce a healthy human personality.


by UKT based on F. J. Wertz

See Humanistic psychology, 2010, in TIL SD-Library - Humanistic-Psycho<Ô>
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_psychology 151202

Humanistic psychology is a mid-20th-century movement born in the United States which holds that man is unique among the animals and should be treated as such. It grew in opposition to the two mainstream psychology schools then current: behaviourism and psychoanalysis. Thanks to this movement, at the close of the century behaviorism has been replaced by cognitive psychology.

"Humanistic psychologists are among the strongest advocates of unity in psychology. Giorgi (1985) points out, however, that unity need not be construed as homogeneity or even the absence of controversy. We remember that humanism has been traditionally an enemy of dogmatism, a critic of abstract principles when given priority over concrete human experience (Bullock, 1985), which may legitimately admit different and even opposed perspectives. However, humanism is surely not an unprincipled eclecticism."

Carl Rogers (1951) is recognized as the father of humanistic psychology and holds the view that humans are innately oriented toward goodness and growth. Because of this stance, humanistic psychology has been discredited in a parallel with the hippie movement (Leahey, 1987). However, it must be noted that humanistic psychology emerged with a definite role in the process of sociohistorical change.

As a Therawada Buddhist, I cannot agree with the view that humans are innately oriented towards goodness . To me "good" and "evil" are the two sides of the same coin. The words "good-evil" are subjective. What is held as "good" at one time by a group of people can be held as "evil" by another group of people. Even within the same community the meanings can change. All human thoughts and actions stems from three or four "fundamentals" -- {lau:ba.} 'greed', {dau:þa.} 'anger' and {mau:ha.} 'ignorance'. I have to expand {mau:ha.} 'ignorance' to {ra-ga.} 'unbridled sex' & {ma-na.} 'conceit'. See Abhidhamma Pitaka in Patthana or "The Book of Relations".

Patthana ("The Book of Relations") is by far the longest single volume in the Tipitaka and describes the 24 paccayas, or laws of conditionality, through which the dhammas interact. These laws, when applied in every possible permutation with the dhammas described in the Dhammasangani (the first book of Abhidhamma), give rise to all knowable experience. -- based on www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/abhidhamma/

Pix on right: Pal-Myan as spoken in Myanmarpré during the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Yangon in 1955. {Dûm~ma.þïn~ga.Ni} & {pûT~HTa-na.}

Patthana ("The Book of Relations")
Pal: {pûT~HTta-na.} - UHS-PMD0590
  UKT from UHS: n. placement, relation sic "mixing-up" of various ideas, opening of military campaign with advancement of troops.

Twenty-four Paccaya

Go back humani-psycho-note-b

Contents of this page


UKT 101205, 151202:

This section does not apply to the human teacher teaching his human student. Yet to understand what is meant by "classical behaviorism", I am presenting it.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning 151202

Classical conditioning (also known as Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) is a learning process in which an innate response to a potent stimulus comes to be elicited in response to a previously neutral stimulus; this is achieved by repeated pairings of the neutral stimulus with the potent stimulus. The basic facts about classical conditioning were discovered by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) through his famous experiments with dogs. Together with operant conditioning, classical conditioning became the foundation of Behaviorism, a school of psychology that dominated psychology in the mid-20th century and is still an important influence on the practice of psychological therapy and the study of animal behaviour (ethology). Classical conditioning is now the best understood of the basic learning processes, and its neural substrates are beginning to be understood.


--- The following is from my article of 101205. I am sorry to say I can no longer remember the source.

Certainly the best-known classical behaviorist is the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, who at the turn of the century (19th to 20th) conducted a series of experiments in which he trained a dog to salivate to the tone of a tuning fork through a procedure that has come to be labeled classical conditioning. For Pavlov the learning process consisted of the formation of associations between stimuli and reflexive responses. (UKT ¶)

All of us are aware that certain stimuli automatically produce or elicit rather specific responses or reflexes, and we have also observed that sometimes that reflex occurs in response to stimuli that appear to be indirectly related to the reflex. Pavlov used the salivation response to the sight or smell of food (an unconditioned response) in many of his pioneering experiments. In the classical experiment he trained a dog, by repeated occurrences, to associate the sound of a tuning fork with salivation until the dog acquired a conditioned response: salivation at the sound of the tuning fork. A previously neutral stimulus (the sound of the tuning fork) had acquired the power to elicit a response (salivation) that was originally elicited by another stimulus (the smell of meat).

UKT: The following text excerpt and the pix on the right are from
- http://employees.csbsju.edu/tcreed/pb/pavcon.html 080226

"The experimenters first performed a minor operation on a dog to relocate its salivary duct to the outside of its cheek, so that  drops of saliva could be more easily measured.  The dog, which was food deprived, was then harnessed in an apparatus (see diagram) to keep it steady. Periodically, a tone was sounded, followed shortly thereafter by meat powder being placed in the hungry dog's mouth (each pairing of tone/meat powder is referred to as a trial ). Meat powder causes a hungry dog to salivate, whereas tones have little effect. The dog's salivation to meat powder is an unconditional reflex -- it is in-born, in that dogs do not have to learn to salivate when food is placed in their mouths. Initially, the dog shows little responsiveness to the tone. Over time, however, the dog comes to salivate at the sounding of the tone alone. When this occurs, Pavlovian conditioning has occurred, in that a new, or conditional, reflex has developed."

Drawing on Pavlov's findings, John B. Watson (1913) coined the term behaviorism. In the empirical tradition of John Locke, Watson contended that human behavior should be studied objectively, rejecting mentalistic notions of innateness and instinct. He adopted classical conditioning theory as the explanation for all learning: by the process of conditioning, we build an array of stimulus-response connections, and more complex behaviors are learned by building up series or chains of responses. Pavlov's and Watson's emphasis on the study of overt behavior and rigorous adherence to the scientific method had a tremendous influence on learning theories for decades. Language teaching practices likewise for many years were influenced by a behavioristic tradition.

Go back Pavlov-behaviorism-note-b

Contents of this page

Ivan Pavlov

From: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov 080226

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (Russian: Иван Петрович Павлов, Sep.14 1849 - Feb27 1936) was a Russian physiologist, psychologist, and physician. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for research pertaining to the digestive system. Pavlov is widely known for first describing the phenomenon of classical conditioning.

Life and Research

Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia. He began his higher education as a student at the Ryazan Ecclesiastical Seminary, but then dropped out and enrolled in the University of St. Petersburg to study the natural sciences. He received his doctorate in 1879.

In the 1890s, Pavlov was investigating the gastric function of dogs by externalizing a salivary gland so he could collect, measure and analyze the saliva many had in response to food under different conditions. He noticed that the dogs tended to salivate before food coated with chili powder was actually delivered to their mouths, and set out to investigate this "psychic secretion", as he called it. He decided that this was more interesting than the chemistry of saliva, and changed the focus of his research, carrying out a long series of experiments in which he manipulated the stimuli occurring before the presentation of food. He thereby established the basic laws for the establishment and extinction of what he called "conditional reflexes" — i.e., reflex responses, like salivation, that only occurred conditionally upon specific previous experiences of the animal. These experiments were carried out in the 1890s and 1900s, and were known to western scientists through translations of individual accounts, but first became fully available in English in a book published in 1927.

Unlike many pre-revolutionary scientists, Pavlov was highly regarded by the Soviet government, and he was able to continue his researches until he reached a considerable age. Moreover, he was praised by Lenin and as a Nobel laureate he was seen as a valuable political asset.

After the murder of Sergei Kirov [an "Old" Bolsheviks, purged by Stalin] in 1934, Pavlov wrote several letters to V. Molotov [a protégé of J. Stalin dismissed by N. Khrushchev] criticizing the mass persecutions which followed and asking for the reconsideration of cases pertaining to several people he knew personally.

In later life he was particularly interested in trying to use conditioning to establish an experimental model of the induction of neuroses. He died in Leningrad. His laboratory in Saint Petersburg has been carefully preserved as a museum.

Conscious until his very last moment, Pavlov asked one of his students to sit beside his bed and to record the circumstances of his dying. He wanted to create unique evidence of subjective experiences of this terminal phase of life. The great scientific courage of Pavlov is exhibited by this story: he tried to learn, and to increase knowledge of physiology, even on his deathbed.

Go back I-Pavlov-note-b

Contents of this page

Language attrition

• Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_attrition 080227
• Colloquia on "Language Attrition: Crosslinguistic Interplay and Sociolinguistic Perspectives" SLRF 2000 Colloquia - Language Attrition. http://mendota.english.wisc.edu/~SLRF/kaufman.htm
• Georgette Ioup (University of New Orleans) "Age Difference in Forgetting a Language", presentation given on "Language Attrition: Crosslinguistic Interplay and Sociolinguistic Perspectives" SLRF 2000 Colloquia - Language Attrition. http://mendota.english.wisc.edu/~SLRF/kaufman.htm

From Wikpedia

Language attrition is the loss of a L1 or L2 or a portion of that language by either a community or an individual. Language attrition is related to multilingualism and language acquisition.

Many factors are at play in learning (acquisition) and unlearning (loss) the L1 and L2. This can be a simple reversal of learning. In other cases, the type and speed of attrition depends on the individual, also on his or her age and skill level. For the same L2, attrition has been affected differently depending on what is the dominant L1 environment.

In many cases, attrition could well be case-by-case. Those language learners motivated to keep their L1 and L2 may very well maintain it, although to do so will likely involve continuous study, or regular use of both.

From Colloquia

From Organizer: Dorit Kaufman , State University of New York at Stony Brook dkaufman@cs.sunysb.edu
     "Interest in language attrition has increased dramatically in recent years and has led to research in first and second language attrition among diverse languages and age groups. This colloquium reflects this diversity in research perspectives, languages, age groups of individuals, and divergence of communities. After a brief introduction to this area of research, Robert Russel opens with a longitudinal perspective on the attrition of Japanese as a second language among adult native speakers of English. When a language is presumed forgotten it is not always gone, Lynne Hansen extends the savings paradigm from cognitive psychology to the relearning of Korean and Japanese as second languages. Her presentation examines the applicability of the savings approach to the recovery of lost syntactic knowledge and the influence of word class in the retention and regaining of the second language. Children have been observed to lose language much more rapidly and completely than adults. Georgette Ioup uses the savings paradigm to investigate the impact of literacy and age differences on L1 retention of two adult siblings whose attrition began at ages 6;9 and 13;1. Attrition among children in an immigrant context is often characterized by simultaneous growth and decline in the native language. Dorit Kaufman explores the changes that occur in the native language of children in this context. Her focus is on the impact of L1 attrition on oral and written narrative production among Hebrew-English bilingual children. Agnes Bolonyai and Lida Dutkova-Cope discuss the attrition of L1 verbal morphology in Hungarian-English and Czech-English bilingual children and examine to what extent grammatical features encoded in verbal markers are equally affected in the attriting L1. The discussion then shifts to the sociolinguistic impact of one's community on the maintenance and attrition of one's native language. Saskia Stoessel investigates the structure of social networks of immigrant women in the US and the impact of earlier life experiences with L1 on attitudes and patterns of language use. Kamal Sridhar explores language maintenance and attrition in a Marathi-speaking community that has lived in a Tamil-speaking Dravidian language area for over 300 years. The colloquium discussant, S.N. Sridhar will close the presentation section by offering his perspective on what has been gleaned from the research presented. This will be followed by a general discussion."

From Georgette Ioup

"It has been observed that children lose language much more rapidly and completely than adults (Pan & Gleason, 1986; Yukawa, 1997). Several explanations have been offered: i. level of fluency (critical mass) attained (Pan & Gleason, 1986); ii. literacy skills in the attriting language (Olshtain, 1986); iii. stability of the linguistic subsystems in memory (Neisser, 1984). These explanations have been called into question by various research studies: Bahrick (1984) of the critical mass hypothesis, Ousman (1992) of the literacy hypothesis, deBot & Stoessel (1998) of the stability hypothesis. A second question has confounded the investigation of age. Is the young attriter's language actually lost from memory or simply unable to be recalled. deBot & Stoessel (1998) investigated this question using the savings paradigm based on the work of Ebbinghaus (1885). Brief training in the attrited language was able to elicit language recognition from their subjects who had lost a childhood language they once had literacy in. The present study investigates the question of age and literacy by examining two male siblings who began attrition at very different ages: 6;9 and 13;1. At the time of testing subjects were aged 53 and 59 respectively. Neither subject had ever been literate in the attrited language, nor had either had contact with the language during the intervening 45 years. At the onset of attrition the two siblings had achieved equivalent levels of fluency. The study attempts to answer the following two questions: i. Is there an age difference in the amount lost? ii. Is the language lost or just inaccessible? The savings paradigm was used in an attempt to elicit language from memory. Results indicate that even in the absence of literacy skills, the older learner retained more of the language before training began, and recalled more after the training. Even more interesting is that the younger sibling, who initially recalled almost nothing of the attrited language, was able to remember quite a bit after the brief training exercise."

Dr. Georgette Ioup, Department of English, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148. glieg@uno.edu (504) 280-6141

Go back lang-attrit-note-b

Contents of this page

mnemonic device

mnemonic adj. 1. Relating to, assisting, or intended to assist the memory. n. 1. A device, such as a formula or rhyme, used as an aid in remembering. [Greek mnēmonikos from mnēmōn mnēmon-mindful; See men- 1 in Indo-European Roots.] mnemonically adv. - AHTD

In Myanmarpré, where people are used to learning by heart, mnemonic devices are very popular. Thus:

{lhæÑ: wing-ro:þän ta.Ñän-Ñän/ Pu.gän Bu.ra: paung:}//

tells us the supposed number of pagodas in ancient Bagan aka Pagan {pu.gän}. In this piece, the graphemes of the Bur-Myan akshara corresponding to the names of the days of the week are the cues to the numbers. The number comes up to 4446000. By another interpretation it is 4446777.

The bilingual Bur-Myan use not only the Bur-Myan but English as well to form such pieces. For example, as a young chemistry student I was handed down a rhyme (1950-1955) for remembering the flame test of metals as:

ne ka wa hso ma. rûm: po / sein: kau: pra lak / hpa. leim: tak //
(red for calcium, yellow for sodium, magenta for potassium, green for copper, blue for lead -- the flame test).

Or, my lament on the paucity of nasals in Eng-Lat, and horizontal-conjuncts in Skt-Dev which behaves almost like a consonant:

Mnemonic: The Doggie Tale
Little doggie cringe in fear -- ŋ (velar),
  Seeing Ella's flapping ears -- ɲ (palatal)
  And, the Shepard's hanging rear -- ɳ (retroflex).
Doggie so sad he can't get it out
  What's that Kasha क्ष when there's a Kha ख ?
  And when there's Jana ज्ञ what am I to do with Jha झ ?

Go back mnemonic-device-note-b

Contents of this page

Modern Language Aptitude Test

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Language_Aptitude_Test 080227

The Modern Language Aptitude Test was designed to predict a student’s likelihood of success and ease in learning a foreign language.

The Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT) was developed to measure foreign language learning aptitude. Language learning aptitude does not refer to whether or not an individual can or cannot learn a foreign language (it is assumed that virtually everyone can learn a foreign language given adequate opportunity). According to John Carroll and Stanley Sapon, the authors of the MLAT, language learning aptitude does refer to the “prediction of how well, relative to other individuals, an individual can learn a foreign language in a given amount of time and under given conditions.” The MLAT has primarily been used for adults in government language programs and missionaries, but it is also appropriate for students in grades 9 to 12 as well as college/university students so it is also used by private schools and school and clinical psychologists. Similar tests have been created for younger age groups. For example, the Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery was designed for junior high and high school students while the MLAT-E is for children in grades 3 through 6.

Go back MLAT-note-b

Contents of this page

Paolo Freire (1921-1997)

From: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Freire 080227

Paulo Freire (Sep 19 1921 - May 2 1997) was a Brazilian educator and is a influential theorist of education.

Excerpt from biography:
Born on September 19, 1921 to middle class parents in Recife, Brazil, Freire became familiar with poverty and hunger during the 1929 Great Depression. These experiences would shape his concerns for the poor and would help to construct his particular educational viewpoint.

Freire enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the University of Recife in 1943. [{There was no war in Brazil, whereas Myanmar was: under Japanese occupation to be granted independence by the Japanese in August 1943}]. He also studied philosophy, more specifically phenomenology, and the psychology of language. Although admitted to the legal bar, he never actually practiced law but instead worked as a teacher in secondary schools teaching Portuguese. In 1944, he married Elza Maia Costa de Oliveira, a fellow teacher. The two worked together for the rest of her life and had five children.

In 1946, Freire was appointed Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the State of Pernambuco, the Brazilian state of which Recife is the capital. Working primarily among the illiterate poor, Freire began to embrace a non-orthodox form of what could be considered liberation theology. In Brazil at that time, literacy was a requirement for voting in presidential elections.

In 1961, he was appointed director of the Department of Cultural Extension of Recife University, and in 1962 he had the first opportunity for significant application of his theories, when 300 sugarcane workers were taught to read and write in just 45 days. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 080227: Note that the sugarcane workers are natives whose L1 was not the Portuguese of the ruling class. Thus, what was taught was not L1 but some kind of L2. So the reader should imagine what read and write were. In the 1970s, a literacy program was launched in Myanmarpré. At the end of a couple of years later Myanmar declared itself as fully literate. I have no faith in such politically biased claims.

In response to this experiment, the Brazilian government approved the creation of thousands of cultural circles across the country.

In 1964, a military coup put an end to that effort, Freire was imprisoned as a traitor for 70 days. After a brief exile in Bolivia, Freire worked in Chile for five years for the Christian Democratic Agrarian Reform Movement and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). In 1967, Freire published his first book, Education as the Practice of Freedom. He followed this with his most famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, first published in Portuguese in 1968.

Go back P-Freire-note-b

Contents of this page

Robert Gagné (1916-2002)

• Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._Gagné 080227
• From: Key Theorists -Theories in Psychology - ROBERT GAGNE. www.psy.pdx.edu/PsiCafe/KeyTheorists/Gagne.htm

From Wikipedia

Robert Mills Gagné (Aug 21 1916 - Apr 28 2002) was an American educational psychologist best known for his "Conditions of Learning". Gagné pioneered the science of instruction during  WWII for the air force with pilot training. Later he went on to develop a series of studies and works that helped codify what is now considered to be 'good instruction.' He also was involved in applying concepts of instructional theory to the design of computer based training and multimedia based learning.

A major contribution to the theory of instruction was the model "Nine Events of Instruction".
1. Gain attention. 2. Inform learner of objectives. 3. Stimulate recall of prior learning
4. Present stimulus material. 5. Provide learner guidance. 6. Elicit performance
7. Provide feedback. 8. Assess performance. 9. Enhance retention transfer

Gagné's work is sometimes summarized as the Gagné Assumption. The assumption is that different types of learning exist, and that different instructional conditions are most likely to bring about these different types of learning.

From: Key Theorists

Robert Gagné was born in 1916 in North Andover, MA. He obtained his A.B. at Yale in 1937 and in 1940 his Ph.D. in Psychology from Brown University. He taught at Connecticut College for Women from 1940-49 and then at Penn State University from 1945-1946. Between 1949-1958, Gagné was director of the perceptual and motor skills laboratory of the U.S. Air force. It was at this time that he began to develop some of his ideas that comprise his learning theory called the "Conditions of Learning".

He is currently a professor in the Department of Education Research at Florida State University in Tallahassee. For the past 25 years, he has worked to interpret and apply the findings from learning theory/research, primarily to school learning.

Today Gagné is considered an experimental psychologist who is concerned with learning and instruction. Although his earlier work is grounded in the behaviorist tradition, his current work seems to be influenced by the information processing view of learning and memory.

Go back R-Gagne-note-b

Contents of this page


UKT: The word subsumable comes from the word "subsume" and not "subsum". In fact AHTD does not list "subsum."

subsume v. tr. subsumed subsuming subsumes 1. To classify, include, or incorporate in a more comprehensive category or under a general principle: " The evolutionarily later always subsumes and includes the evolutionarily earlier " Frederick Turner  [Medieval Latin subs¿mere Latin sub- sub-Latin s¿mere to take; See em- in Indo-European Roots.] subsumable adj.

Go back subsumable-note-b

Contents of this page
End of TIL file