Lecture by Lourdes Ortega, November 16, 2012: Lourdes Ortega

Language Teaching and SLA: Understanding the Limits and Possibilities of the Research-teaching Interface

by Lourdes Ortega, Department of Linguistics, Georgetown University

Language teachers often feel unsure of the value of second language acquisition (SLA) research, wondering if studies about language teaching are relevant and realistic enough to give them insights that can inform and improve their daily practice. SLA researchers also seem to feel unsure of the value for language teachers of what they do, and many have advised extreme caution when applying to language classrooms the research knowledge they generate. In this talk, I will analyze the research-teaching interface that has obtained in the three areas of motivation, aptitude, and error correction in order to show how and why SLA research has sometimes, but not always, been meaningful enough to be supportive of teachers’ professional praxis. In motivation research, SLA has produced knowledge that has an easy and natural relevance for language teaching praxis. In the area of aptitude, a large amount of contextualization and critical professional translation is needed, but possible, before the research can be of use in actual local classroom contexts. With respect to SLA research on error correction, surprisingly, the potential of relevance for teaching is greatest but remains largely unfulfilled, in my view due to shortcomings in the research side of the interface. Ultimately, cross-fertilization between language teaching and SLA research might be better supported if researchers and teachers alike learn to nurture more critical but also more hopeful understandings about the possibilities and limits of the research-teaching interface.
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Friday, November 16, 2012
3:00 – 5:00 pm, B-4 Dwinelle Hall