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An Educational Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 1997

Rod Ellis
Temple University


Many SLA researchers have demonstrated an interest in language pedagogy (LP), yet the relationship between SLA and LP is a problematic one, not so much because of the limitations of SLA itself but because the two disciplines involve different “Discourses” (Gee, 1990). In this paper it is argued that an educational perspective is needed in order to examine how SLA can contribute to LP. Such a perspective suggests ways in which SLA can be appraised in a pedagogically relevant manner and, more importantly, what kinds of applications may be fruitful. It is suggested that relevance is more likely to be achieved if SLA is used to address issues that practitioners nominate as important to them. Different models of application are considered, reflecting different ways of viewing teaching. A behavioral model, according to which teachers implement those behaviors that research has shown to be effective, is rejected. However, SLA can serve as an important source of information that can help to shape practitioners' theories of teaching (a cognitive model). Most importantly, it constitutes a source of “provisional specifications” that practitioners can evaluate in their own contexts of action (an interpretation model). SLA also affords practitioners the means for conducting their own investigations. In short, an educational perspective suggests that for SLA to influence LP, practitioners need assistance in transforming knowledge about L2 acquisition into practice.

Research Article
© 1997 Cambridge University Press

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