Review of article by Decoo – Part V

Decoo states:

“When society has to become protective and strictly controlled for its own safety, it may also infuse into education more rigid norms, more discipline and a tighter grip on knowledge. Within that spirit, language teaching may also return to the stressing of grammatical rules for correctness. Language methods are seldom independent islands: they are deeply embedded in the broader spectrum.”

This guy gives us a lot of insight into his world view with this statement. I have recently read a great book titled You Are What You Speak by Greene who delves into the connection between the world view and politics of people as they connect to their view of the role of grammar. Decoo clearly sees the rules of grammar as closely related to the rules of a well-ordered society. A famous conservative linguist, Mario Pei, stated that in the attitude people take toward the notion of grammatical correctness we can read much of their philosophy of life. We can peep out quite a bit of Mr. Decoo’s world view in this statement.

It would be wrong to view the swing of the pendulum as a futile exercise. Basically, it is a dynamic thing, obliging us to question our principles, to foster research, to adjust where needed, to modernize content, and to revitalize language learning. In that sense I do not wish this presentation to leave a negative or cynical impression. We need the swing of the pendulum, for at every full movement some things will be improved. The negative side is when, within the swing, some particular method is so gripping that it actually undermines the progression students could have made. … If they had only studied grammar, that is.

Under 5.2 he fails to acknowledge that Krashen, Terrell and others have cited the late 19th century method of the Natural Method or Direct Method as being much the same as what they advocate and that all that was swamped when modern languages decided that to be accepted they (their teachers, naturally) had to adopt the grammar-translation method then in vogue among classics teachers.

Of all disciplines, language learning is one that is the most ignorant of its own past. Theories and techniques are presented as new, while in truth they had already been invented decades before…. False. My methods courses always reviewed the past and pointed out this ebb and flow. 

This writer is setting up straw men.

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