Spring 2006     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 10, Issue 1     Editorial (1)
Approaches to Language
In his Maximes, La Rochefoucauld reminds us that “language tethers us to the world; 
without it we spin like atoms.” Through language, we communicate with our fellow 
human beings, expressing our emotions, thoughts, and desires. To learn another 
language involves far more than learning vocabulary or grammatical structures: 
it is a lengthy and demanding process, by which we acquire a new frame of reference, 
a sort of lens through which we can see the world and express it. Language learning 
necessarily involves culture learning. As the medieval emperor Charlemagne put it 
so well, “to have another language is to possess a second soul.” With this in mind, 
language educators must not be content with fostering speaking or writing skills 
in their students. We would all do well to keep in mind that, throughout the 
learning process, we are engaging our students’ minds, and teaching them to think 
critically.

Seventeen articles make up this special feature of Academic Exchange Quarterly 
devoted to Language. A wide breadth of approaches to both English and foreign 
language learning are represented. It is our hope that this special feature will 
provide language educators with the means to engage cutting-edge research within 
their fields of interest. It is regrettable that too often our areas of 
specialization sequester us from each other. Foreign language pedagogy experts 
rarely exchange ideas with ESL teachers, linguists, or theorists. In its very 
nature, this volume tears down the traditional divisions within the field of 
language learning (and teaching) to provide an interdisciplinary and enriching 
forum for reflection on the many “Approaches to Language.”

Four articles focus on the applications of technology to language learning. Simone 
Bregni considers how professionals can significantly enhance the language learning 
environment with the use of Peer-to-Peer networks. Melissa L. Fiori explores the 
possibilities provided by electronic technologies for fostering grammatical 
competence, and Miuyki Fukai considers what role the internet can play in addressing 
the standards for foreign language learning. Finally, José Dávila-Montes addresses 
the current standards of computer assisted translation.

Another four articles deal more specifically with writing skills. Ishmael Doku 
discusses the problems fostered by students’ use of the electronic spellchecker. 
Meanwhile, Melvin J. Hoffman’s study questions how (and if) grammar belongs in 
language instruction. Jennifer Malia’s study turns to English as a Second Language, 
to analyze the performance of non-native writers in the mainstream classroom, and 
James W. Porcaro suggests that EFL students can significantly increase their writing 
abilities by translating literary texts in their first language.

Sarah Ann Liszka takes a more theoretical approach, to examine the impact of 
dyslexia on foreign language learning. John Rhoades and Zhiming Zhao continue in 
this theoretical vein, discussing how language serves as a means of human adaptation.
The volume also includes three case-studies. The first, by Yuko Goto Butler and Kenji
 Hakuta, focuses on various factors influencing elementary school students’ reading 
proficiency level. Then, Casilde Isabelli studies the use and simplification of the 
subjunctive mood amongst Spanish-speaking Latinos in Reno, Nevada. The third case 
study, by Yoshiko Okuyama, examines the implications of an American teenager’s 
short-term immersion experience in Japan on long-term language learning abilities.

The remaining four articles are devoted to pedagogical issues. Beatrice Dupuy 
describes the success of a writing and publication project in her French class, as a 
means of effectively engaging students in the learning experience. Jacqueline Thomas 
tackles the issue of dealing with students of varying backgrounds and competencies 
in a first-year French courses, by developing a series of student-centered 
activities based on Le Ballon Rouge. Anita Jon Alkhas presents a series of engaging 
pedagogical strategies for developing critical thinking skills in the study of 
French literary movements, and Audre Garcia-Grice encourages ESL teachers to bring 
their own experiences into the classroom. 

It has been a pleasure to work on this special feature, which includes a wealth of 
articles and ideas. I would especially like to thank my two editorial interns, 
Ms. Jamie Gianoutsos and Ms. Hannah Zdansky, without whose help this volume could 
not have come into being. I would also like to congratulate them, for graduating 
this May from Baylor with Honors, and for winning, respectively, a Marshall and a 
Fulbright scholarship to study in Europe next year. May they both profit from their 
travels, and remember at all times to pay attention to the words surrounding them, 
for language reveals the heart and soul of a people. Indeed, it tethers us not only 
to the world, but also to those who live in it.
K. Sarah-Jane Murray, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature and French, Baylor University
and Co-Director, The Charrette Project

CFP for the next Approaches to Language issue, Spring 2007.
See Index to all published articles.