ERIC Number: ED394318
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Jan-29
The Value of Research and Evaluation in Language Education.
Alderson, J. Charles
This keynote address argues that policy makers should consider a project approach to implementation of research results regarding foreign language learning; they should pay attention to what is being revealed by a growing number of evaluation and impact studies concerning effective innovation and project effects. Second, language teaching research needs to develop better definitions of linguistic and non-linguistic outcomes if research is to address the complexity of the task of foreign language learning. There appears to be a pervasive lay belief in the essential simplicity of the task of learning a foreign language, encouraged by the mistaken notion that foreign language learning and first language acquisition are comparable. Such beliefs may partially explain the commercial, if not educational, success of teaching methods and materials that make claims of effectiveness in remarkably short periods of time. Careful research has failed to bear out such claims or to support such beliefs. Even if effective approaches were known, it is naive to believe that research results can be translated into action without consideration of the conditions under which innovations take hold and succeed. The language teaching profession has failed to define adequately what it means by success in language learning; there is little agreement on expected or desired standards of achievement. There is also little attention to the principles that are accepted in the language testing profession for the construction of measures of achievement and proficiency. Language teaching research will need to develop much better definitions of the linguistic and non-linguistic outcomes that are expected of the various programs and projects if research is both to address the complexity of the task of foreign language learning as well as to contribute to our understanding of the conditions that can lead to successful language learning. (Contains 58 references.) (Author/NAV)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Council for Cultural Cooperation, Strasbourg (France).
Note: Keynote address at the Educational Research Workshop on the Effectiveness of Modern Language Learning and Teaching (Graz, Austria, March 5-8, 1996).