Carnegie Mellon University
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Emergentism—Use Often and With Care

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journal contribution
posted on 2006-12-01, 00:00 authored by Brian MacwhinneyBrian Macwhinney
Applied Linguistics has been receptive to input from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. Researchers have explored theoretical and methodological inputs from linguistics, sociology, and psychology. Language planners have accepted ideas from sociology, political science, history, and demography. First and second language teachers have been open to all of these fields, as well as to approaches from education, rhetoric, and literature. This openness to new research and new ideas promotes innovation and dynamism in Applied Linguistics. At the same time, researchers and practitioners have often found themselves awash in a sea of conflicting claims and recommendations from these various theoretical sources. Should reading be taught by phonics or by the whole word method? Should we encourage second language learners to speak in the L2 from the first day or should we allow them to first consolidate their ability to learn from comprehensible input? Should we provide focused vocabulary practice or should vocabulary learning be subsumed in culturally relevant experiences? Should we provide explicit teaching of grammatical rules or rely instead on the student’s ability to learn implicitly?




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