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How much linguistics do language teachers need?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language Education.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The amount of linguistics required or available as part of an undergraduate degree with a major in a foreign language degree has varied through time and from country to country. Currently in New Zealand it is possible to graduate with a double major in in European or Asian languages without ever having come closer to linguistics than a grammar or pronunciation course. Language graduates may not have studied much in the way of linguistics during their degree study. This means that if they choose to enter initial secondary teacher education, they may be quite linguistically naive, despite years of language study.


Current thinking on language education is that the combination of meaningful spoken and written input in the target language, and the possibility of meaningful interaction in the target language are enough to allow students to acquire communicative competence in the target language. However, all but the most radical believe that most learners will be helped by also learning about the target language – in effect learning something of the pragmatics, syntax, morphology, phonology and phonetics of the target language. Communicative competence is the goal for language education, and this paper examines the role of implicit and explicit linguistic knowledge and linguistic teaching in the learning and teaching of languages and the disconnect between language graduates’ linguistic understanding and language education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics Didactics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97695OAI: diva2:679883
Linguistics Society of New Zealand 20th Biennial Conference, 20-22 Nov 2013
Available from: 2013-12-17 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2014-03-18Bibliographically approved

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Cunningham, Una
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