Re: [xmca] Wetaphors for Language Learning

From: Leif Strandberg <leifstrandberg.ab who-is-at>
Date: Fri Sep 07 2007 - 04:00:22 PDT


I just jumped into this thread -

"Not by bread only"
Nechlebom edinym

I found that book - by Vladimir Dudintsev - in an old book store some
years ago. Dudintsev's book (from 1953-57?) was very important both
in USSR and in Sweden.

A great book

And yes, in The Bible

Matt 4:4

6 sep 2007 kl. 17.48 skrev Mike Cole:

> Bella-
> So its true!
> "Ne klebom edinom."
> :-)
> mike
> Ps-- "Not by bread alone" for Anglophones, an expression that plays a
> special role in
> those with a Soviet past.
> On 9/6/07, bella kotik <> wrote:
>> Dear David:
>> For explaining the advantage of vocabulary representation in FLL
>> (immediate
>> vs mediated by translation in L1) I suggested such a picture
>> metaphor.(
>> this is from my book "How to learn foreign languages successfully (In
>> Russian). Students accept it very well especially when we discuss
>> minimisation of L1 usage after observation of them in EFL lessons.
>> .
>> in case it is not seen in this letter (I pasted it here) see the
>> attachment
>> Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut
>> On 9/6/07, David Kellogg <> wrote:
>>> Dear Bruce:
>>> Thanks for the ref, which I didn't know at all but have now
>>> ordered. I
>> got
>>> my idea from David Byrne's "Complexity Theory and the Social
>>> Sciences"
>>> (Routledge, 1998).
>>> It's a good read too, but it wasn't what I was looking for. I
>>> need some
>>> way of integrating complexity theory and VOLITION (or
>>> language teaching (which is what I do) volition-free approaches
>>> are very
>>> popular (nativism, subconscious acquisition, and now chaos-
>>> complexity
>>> theory).But foreign language learning is, as LSV points out in
>>> Chapter
>> Six
>>> of Thinking and Speech, a volitional activity par excellence.
>>> Monday night in my graduate seminar I offered the metaphor of
>>> adding a
>>> second story to a house. It's a metaphor for additional language
>> learning
>>> that I like very much: it's conscious, deliberate, and also
>>> PARTIAL (we
>>> don't necessarily need to include a kitchen or another master
>>> bedroom;
>> we
>>> may only want to put in rooms for guests to stay in). Best of
>>> all, it's
>> a
>>> TERRESTRIAL metaphor; it avoids the WATER metaphors that saturate
>> thinking
>>> about language teaching today (and even, alas, some of LSV's
>>> writings!)
>>> My grads didn't like it very much: they prefer semi-aquaeous
>>> metaphors
>>> like:
>>> ACQUISITION (They perceive this rather as a matter of squeezing
>>> out the
>>> old native language and allowing learners to be "saturated" in
>>> the new.)
>>> IMMERSION (ditto)
>>> LEVEL, INPUT, OUTPUT, FILTER...etc. etc. etc.
>>> Lakoff and Johnson would describe all of these as realizations of a
>> single
>>> underlying cognitive metaphor: 'LANGUAGE IS A LIQUID".
>>> Why are these metaphors so powerful in the classroom when they
>>> are so
>>> DISEMPOWERING, when the operational conclusion is always that we
>>> have to
>>> pump stuff through pipes into the learner's sodden wetware? Why
>>> are they
>> so
>>> powerful in the seminar room when they lead to the absurd
>>> spectacle of
>> Asian
>>> educators going begging, cap in hand, to precisely the handful of
>> countries
>>> which have been IGNOMINIOUS FAILURES in foreign language teaching
>>> and
>>> learning at the primary level--the UK, the USA, Australia?
>>> Believe it or not, I think your quote from "The Dialectical
>>> Biologist"
>>> holds the answer. A purely chemotherapeutic approach to TB
>>> obviates a
>>> conscious change of THINKING. And so does a purely hydraulic
>>> approach to
>>> language learning. But how to prevent chaos/complexity theory from
>> falling
>>> into this trap, how to include learner and teacher volition into the
>>> chaos/complexity model? I don't think the social science approach
>> offered by
>>> Byrne really gives much of an answer, because there simply isn't
>>> enough
>> room
>>> for INDIVIDUAL agency in learning. We need a model with rooms
>>> that show
>> how
>>> people change can their own minds.
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>> Bruce Robinson <> wrote:
>>> David,
>>> Belated thanks for a very thought-provoking post.
>>>> Of course, there is another explanation for Needham's problem, and
>> when
>>> I am not thinking like a white immigrant to Asia, it is the one
>>> that I
>>> accept. It is Mike's explanation in "Psychology of Literacy" that
>>> tools
>> are
>>> not thoughts; that technologies like literacy do not have cognitive
>> benefits
>>> that stand head and shoulders above the contexts in which they
>>> emerge,
>> that
>>> the meaningful uses of tools cannot far outstrip the material and
>>> social
>>> environments in which the tools arise and the challenges that those
>>> environments present. Westerners took Chinese tools and turned
>>> them to
>>> imperialistic ends because those ends corresponded to the perceived
>>> challenge that they found themselves in.
>>>> For the same reasons, although we have the "tool" of modern
>>>> medicine,
>>> and anti-bacterial drugs, and public health measures implicit in the
>>> scientific discoveries of Pasteur, the white plague which killed our
>> beloved
>>> LSV (and also Volosinov) is on the rise again. The problem is simply
>> that
>>> the tool Pasteur bequeathed us to vanquish tuberculosis is not
>>> enough
>> (and
>>> in fact was largely not responsible for the decline in the
>>> disease in
>> the
>>> first place).
>>>> In order to conquer TB, we need a SOCIAL environment that
>>>> recognizes
>>> poor housing, poor education, poor public health and the very gap
>> between
>>> rich and poor as the true causes of the disease rather than a humble
>>> bacillus. But that requires more than a new tool; it requires a
>>> new mode
>> of
>>> thinking. It requires, in other words, thoughtsnotools.
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>> I don't know if you're familiar with Lewontin and Levins' book 'The
>>> Dialectical Biologist" but they make exactly the same point:
>>> "The tubercule bacillus became _the_ cause of TB, as opposed, say to
>>> unregulated industrial capitalism, because the bacillus was made the
>>> point of medical attack on the disease. The alternative would not
>>> be a
>>> 'medical' but a 'political' approach to TB and so not the
>>> business of
>>> medicine in an alientated social structure. Having identified the
>>> bacillus as the cause a chemotherapy had to be developed to treat
>>> it,
>>> rather than, say a social revolution."
>>> They tie this to the non-dialectical forms of thought and fractured
>>> practices characteristic of modern science: " The dialectical
>>> emphasis
>>> on wholes is shared by other schools of thought which rebel
>>> against the
>>> fragmentation of life under capitalism, the narrowness of
>>> specialization, the reductionism of medical and agricultural
>>> theory."
>>> ... which brings us back to Descartes, Newton, Galileo and co.
>>> again.
>>> The fragmentation of knowledge must have been linked to the changing
>>> division of labour and the increased division of manual and
>>> intellectual
>>> labour that went with the decline of craft production. The
>>> problem with
>>> classical scientific method, as Levins states elsewhere, is
>>> obviously
>>> not that that abstract way of thinking cannot grasp aspects of
>>> reality
>>> but rather that there is then no move back from the abstract part
>>> to the
>>> concrete whole so that things outside its narrow view simply get
>>> ignored as possible explanatory factors.
>>> Bruce R
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