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.