Review of article by Decoo – Part III

But at this point, he moves to telling about what makes a “new” (his quote marks) idea successful. As we leave this stage of his presentation (originally delivered as a talk; this written version is more extensive), we note that Decoo clearly favors eclectic approaches but, again, without evidence that they work. Later I’ll state why I think lots of people like eclectic approaches.* His view is expressed in his explanation of the quote marks:

“I put “new” between quotation marks, because many “new” ideas are rediscoveries of ideas that have blossomed in decades or even centuries past. The package and the jargon are, of course, different”

He gleefully cites Kaplan: ” “The language teaching field is more beset by fads than perhaps any other area of education. The ’best’ methodology  changes at incredibly frequent intervals, depending on which charismatic ’scholar’ happens to have drawn attention to him or herself lately.”

Is this true? I don’t know but possibly. OTOH, I’ve seen shifts in perspective in history, anthropology, linguistics, pedagogy, and have read about such shifts in fields I am less familiar with, and these shifts seem no less frequent or dramatic than those in an applied field like fl teaching. Again, and again, where is Decoo getting his information, or Kaplan for that matter?

Decoo continues:

“The communicative approach, for example, was mainly developed in the context of ESL, but in its initial years ESL is an easy language enabling to quickly reach a fair level of communication. If you compare ESL to French, French requires six times more elements to be mastered to reach a similar first year communicative level. Already in the first year of study, French requires a student to learn some 20 different articles in front of a substantive (definite, indefinite, contracted, partitive, each in combination with masculine, feminine, singular, plural, and tied to negation and place of the adjective); it requires a staggering amount of verbal forms, agreements of adjectives and pronouns, etc. To neglect this complexity in a so-called authentic language approach is fatal for the not-so bright student: integration of the elements falters, frustration grows and motivation plummets. German, Norwegian, Russian, Japanese — each of these languages requires more or less adapted methods. If a so-called universal method is imposed, it may lead to disappointment and to its decline”

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