It would be helpful if this poster would not mischaracterize people’s views.
It’s easy to dismiss attention to detail as “prescriptivist”
The embedded statement here is that anyone not adhering to the prescriptivist approach has no interest in detail and is therefore careless in thought and deed. That is a characterization and a false one.
Who assumed? <<At least in my own case, it would be entirely incorrect to assume that
>all that I do in my classroom is teach “rules.”>>
Further: <<It’s always easy to demand that the “other side” produce data while producing none of your own>>
On the contrary, this Listserv has seen many posts where research has been cited. The research is simply not accepted as valid by everyone.
Another mischaracterization stated, one perhaps accepted as fact by teachers who have not taken a methods courese, is:
If the purely communicative method in
which virtually any utterance is correct as long as a very sympathetic listener understands the intent works so much better, where is their data?
The picture painted is of a classroom in linguistic chaos with no provision for modeling or monitored output. That certainly is the view promoted by those who believe that rule presentation and practice should be the only acceptable method, but it is not accurate.
I also see here the seeds of an earlier disagreement this poster had with me. I simply will not accept untrue and misleading characterizations. Perhaps that is seen as hostile. It’s not. And this poster’s own description of his practices sounds like he runs a good classroom. He uses a different approach. No need to run down others.
>On Mar 2, 2008, at 1:15 PM, Pat Barrett wrote:
>> X has laid out the prescriptivist position quite well here. I
>> see a lot
>> of definitions and clarifications that need to be made without
>> declaring his position to be “wrong”. It’s like conservative/liberal
>> positions in politics – neither is wrong nor right, just starting from
>> distinct premises. I’d like to explore those but in my blog – anyone
>> interested can go to it later (maybe today or tomorrow, depending on
>> if I
>> get work tomorrow).
>> Anyway, thanks for setting this position out for us.
The poster’s full response was:
>It’s easy to dismiss attention to detail as “prescriptivist” and in
>this and other forums to ask where the data which proves that
>attention to rules “works” as a method. Of course this dismissal falls
>short in a number of ways.
>At least in my own case, it would be entirely incorrect to assume that
>all that I do in my classroom is teach “rules.” While this is a small
>component of my classroom, dialog and reading are other, larger
>components, and when they speak in Spanish, I do not constantly
>correct my students. I, and my colleagues, use any number of
>”communicative” strategies in our classrooms. If one were to fault
>what I do, I would guess I would be faulted more for focussing much
>more on content than on language. I’m personally much more inclined to
>care if a student can place the artistic periods of a half a dozen
>Spanish painters in order, comment on the political situation at the
>time, and to suggest a few characteristics of each of their styles,
>than whether or not their adjectives agree. (though of course, I
>circle such errors in their writing)
>The weakest aspect of the dismissal, however, is the demand for data.
>It’s always easy to demand that the “other side” produce data while
>producing none of your own. If the purely communicative method in
>which virtually any utterance is correct as long as a very sympathetic
>listener understands the intent works so much better, where is their
>As I mentioned before, this debate will rage for years to come.
>Despite my personal beliefs, I have to say that things in my personal
>life at the moment have me considering adopting the “virtually all
>utterances are correct” stance. All the hours I spend preparing
>materials and lesson plans, vocabulary lists for feature films,
>background content etc could apparently all be cast aside in favor of
>”just talking” since how one says things is so much less important
>than the attempt, however fractured. In the reductio ad absurdum, I
>wonder what the extreme “communicativists” actually “teach” in their
>classrooms? But of course none of us are “purely” communicative or
The last statement is, finally, accurate.