corrected version of Writing and SLAM response

Recently, April 25, I responded (Re writing and SLAM) to a post that asked about the efficacy of error correction. I made a hash out of my response and would like to try again. I will spare the list and simply place it on my blog here.
Part of the problem was that I did not read the posts that followed Robert’s question about the efficacy of heavy error correction, literally returned papers covered with red marks. I responded strictly to the idea of such error correction as having any effectiveness. He was asking about how to approach another teacher on that issue and I didn’t address that but rather the idea that someone is still using that sort of thing as “feedback”.
(I have not yet read the other posts b/c I want to straighten out what I wrote)
Another mistake: I threw out something that had struck me, the parallel between Blaine saying we teach sentences and the fact that Chomsky’s revolution shifted the linguist’s attention from the morpheme level to the sentence level. Originally, it was just word association, but when Brian pointed it out to me, I realized I might have hit upon something with a deeper resonance than had occurred to me. So I will say this about that:
The idea is that there may be a parallel between Chomsky revolutionizing linguistics by starting at the sentence level and Blaine (saying) using similar language with “we teach sentences”. The parallel may lie in the way structural linguistics focused on parts i.e. morphemes, and when this was applied to teaching, it followed that we teach the parts, the morphemes e.g. 2nd person plural, irregular dual, continuous despicable and aoristic deplorables. But by starting at the sentence level with input, we lay down patterns more consonant with the way the brain aka LAD actually acquires language.
Now that is not geared toward classroom teaching but I thought I’d at least explain myself.
As to the role Chomskyan theory plays in Krashen’s hypotheses, I do find references to Chomsky in The Input Hypothesis and Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use, although no clear-cut declaration that Chomskyan linguistics is the basis of Krashen’s hypotheses – although I think I did read that somewhere. I’ll have to keep looking. And the LAD as part of CI comes from Chomsky’s postulation of a LAD. The LAD is a black box, a conceit that allows us to chug along with our theory without being explicit. We observe something going into the black box and we observe something coming out; we just don’t know what goes on inside. Inside is where acquisition takes place, in my understanding. How and why we do not know. Krashen’s observation is that CI goes in and language competence emerges from the other side. I would ask the champions of error correction to offer their explanation of how the feedback turns into acquisition. In the past, their explanation has been based on behaviorism, i.e. habit formation.
The LAD is preset to parameters for L1 and…… crucial to SLA, L2. Those parameters get set by the learner “hearing” i.e. receiving input. The LAD takes the input and determines from it what the parameters are. Once the parameters are set e.g. verb final SOV or head first structures, then the slots are filled from further input. (This is a good example of how difficult it is to keep these posts short and why I am putting it on my blog instead of sending it to the list. I could expand on this but right now am hoping readers know that languages have parameters of what is allowed and what is not.)
It is a real leap of faith to think that the LAD still works in a 28 year old hearing Hausa and that he will acquire Hausa in the natural environment. Certainly if Hausa is his first language we would accept that, but can it happen in someone other than an infant? YES. This is what is so frustrating to me: we know that anyone can acquire another language given comprehensible input b/c it happens all the time, yet the legacy forces keep telling us we need explicit grammatical instruction. Have these people never encountered anyone who went to another country and learned the language without instruction? Very strange.
In my initial post on the 25th (Re writing and SLAM), I mentioned my recent (1994) experience of such feedback and tried to show how it was ineffective. My teachers in Russia were devoted to red ink (Communist holdovers?)The input I got just being in Russia was what boosted my Russian, not the classroom study. Then I launched into an example from Urdu that didn’t turn out too well. I was trying to show that rule getting and rule using do not work, that hearing/reading a grammatical feature in context where it is acquired results in the feature becoming part of the language of the learner. Unfortunately, my example was more confusing than useful. The point was, if you always hear a reference with a plural verb you are always going to use a plural verb with it b/c that’s all you know. The rule-based approach makes you jump through analytical hoops and “figure out” what you should say (what I dub ratiocination).
So, following Lance………….. error correction feedback doesn’t work.

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