Question

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2 thoughts on “Question”

  1. I think Carol’s statements about desire are extremely important. If you think about it, it’s illogical to say on the one hand that all language learners go through stages of imprecision and error before achieving accuracy but on the other hand the brain can’t be re-trained. If the brain can’t be retrained, then a person can never change his ways. The idea of “fossilization” is really a matter of being satisfied with a particular level of mastery or “correctness”, and we see it all the time even in the first language. Of course, along with desire must come opportunity.

    I once had a very interesting conversation with a missionary. He and his wife ministered in France for a number of years. During that time he was out and about, interacting with native French speakers for many hours each day. After language school his French continued to develop and improve. His wife, on the other hand, stayed home with the children and had less contact with French speakers. Her language “fossilized” at about the level it was when their language school ended. Once the children were older, she was able to interact with French women, and her French began to improve dramatically. Then they moved to Spain. There, the wife was the one who was out and about while the husband was doing behind-the-scenes support and administrative work with Americans. Guess whose language “fossilized” this time?

  2. I’ve recently been thinking about this subject quite a bit in relation to some of my advanced students who seem capable of understanding anything I throw at them, but still make mistakes that many of my lower level students are no longer making. This is what I call fossilized language, and I’m not sure that it comes from a lack of motivation. I think one of the (many) dangers of early forced output is that we hear students making the same mistakes over and over, which is a very corrupt form of Comprehensible Input. I know that I have actually heard myself saying some of them, which comes from having heard it so often that my brain has decided it must be correct.

    I like Krashen’s idea of focusing on one problem at a time. I also like the idea of audio books, which combines high quality literary language above and beyond what you can get in conversations at the bakers or even at a cocktail party with audio input.

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