Review of article by Decoo – Part II

The rise of behavioristic understanding of language learning is treated next. It quickly died and Decoo cites a massive study done which showed it offered no advantages while the approach cited in the immediately above quote, The Active Method, “led to better results.” From this, it sounds like Decoo is insisting on direct grammar instruction, use of the native language, and reliance on a cognitive path of learning.

Wow! Here it is: “The communicative approach includes many specific methods, some stressing the immediate production of language, others asking to postpone speaking in favor of a receptive phase, still others stressing the emotive aspects of language learning. But all have as their core concept practicality-in-action. The communicative approach lived its heydays in the 1980s. During the 1990s the original concept went into a slow agony, of which its own supporters are not yet always aware.”

I wonder if Decoo ever attended a recent ACTFL conference? I’m not sure why he characterizes the movement for communicative language as being focused on practicality, real-world experience, authentic encounter with life, with the industry, and with applications. That’s not anything I associate with a method or approach I’ve followed pretty closely for about 25 years now.

The Communicative approach, still fighting an uphill battle against curriculum devisers and textbook publishers, is declared dead by Decoo. In my department, I can state without equivocation that the cognitive code method and a good deal of eclecticism rule completely. That is true of every fl department I’ve had anything to do with. Many teachers who are hailed as masters of the communicative method insist on massive amounts of explicit grammar instruction backed up by tests which call principally for explicit knowledge of grammar.

On the other hand, everyone, including the Latin teachers I met at ACTFL conference last month, is moving away from grammar, at least in their pronouncements. Textbooks assure us they are teaching for communication despite having every page filled with paradigms. I have to wonder where Decoo gets his information. He states that new, “post-communicative trends are emerging”. Like what? I would love examples of that.

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