[xmca] B.V. Belyayev

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Apr 11 2007 - 16:28:42 PDT

Belyayev (Belaev?) did publish between 1940 and 1961. His book "The Psychology of Teaching Foreign Languages" was published as a series of essays in Russian by the State Educational Publishing House of the Ministry of Education of the RSFSR in 1959. Here are some snippets from the English version (1963):
  (p. 2) "It is possible and ncessary to distinguish two basic aspects of teaching--education and instruction. In practice neither exists without the other. When giving instruction the teacher is simultaneously educating and vice versa. In practice education and instruction form an organic unity, but education and instruction must be distinguished theoretically. Education must be understood as sassisting the development of the pupils while instruction consists of enriching them with theoretical knowledge and with practical skills and abilities.
       "A teacher can only educate his pupils successfully and correctly--i.e. assist the development of their intelligence and feelings, will and character--if he knows what intellgence and feelings, will and character are and if he knows precisely what stages the pupils pass through in their psychological development." (p. 3)
  p. 28: "A person's speech (i.e. the actual use of language in order to communicate cannot possibly understood as a habit (...) Speech habits do of course exist, but a person's speech is never subsumed by these habits being always a conscious and creative activity."
  The reason I find this a more INCISIVE critique than Chomsky's famous review of Verbal Behavior is that Chomsky does not (and cannot) include consciousness as an element in creativity, which he holds is really a function of our biological endowment.
  But for Vygotskyans consciousness and cultural transmission (the other essential factor in accounting for the complexity of grammatical structure) are essentially the same phenomenon viewed from two different angles, the one psychological and the other historical.
  p. 49:
  "Are any psychological changes involved in the use of a foreign language in place of the native language? This question has great theoretical and practical importance. It has a close connection with the psychological analysis of thought and speech, which cannot yet be considered to have been conducted sufficiently widely and deeply. And in its practical implications the question is closely linked with the problem of how to teach languages.
  "In investigating the psychology of thinking in a foreign language we take it as a principle that language and thought are directly linked to each other and form an indissoluble whole. This gives an interesting slant to the question whether a person's thinking has the same character when he uses a foreign language as when he uses his own, or whether it is somehow modified."
  Belyayev then undertakes a discussion of whether concepts exist in the external world very similar to what Martin and I were doing not too long ago. He decides that only concepts at the extreme end of "object relatedness" are independent of mediated pychological processes and there are no "external" concepts.
  But he argues on the basis of a word association experiment he argues that logical operations such as association and generalization are independent of language once the mediating link of translation to the native language have been removed; they exist in all languages, and are equally accessible through education.
  This is a very strongly egalitarian and anti-relativist position, similar to what Vygotsky and Luria were arguing in their Uzbek work. (He is not arguing that languages are functionally equivalent in context; he is arguing for their functional equivalence across contexts!)
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Wed Apr 11 17:31 PDT 2007

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