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4. History of Language Teaching


Subject Applied Linguistics » Language Teaching

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405154895.2009.00005.x


What is the relevance of the history of language teaching for a volume that contains state-of-the-art perspectives on issues facing the profession? Cutting edge research does not require it. Modern theories need not consider it. Yet none of the topics addressed in this volume is novel. Each has been considered at an earlier – sometimes much earlier – point in the history of language teaching. Most have been part of the disciplinary discourse for centuries. Notwithstanding, the field of applied linguistics devotes scant attention to its history. In his 1983 volume entitled Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching , H. H. Stern lamented the fact that “language teaching theory has a short memory” and lacks “historical depth” (pp. 76–7). Brumfit and Mitchell (1990) , Musumeci (1997) , as well as Thomas (2004) , also argue for an historical perspective. Mitchell and Myles (2004) address the problem of ahistoricity by grounding their excellent introduction to current second-language learning theories within the “recent history” of the post-WWII period. Aside from the intrinsic merit of historical research, even a passing acquaintance with the people, philosophies, and events that have shaped the history of second-language teaching provides the possibility of contextualizing current trends, practices, and debates. Given the long and varied history of second-language teaching, a ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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