ELTNews have put up a nice interview with David Nunan. In case you’ve not heard of him, he’s sold over 700 million textbooks in China (which is more than Harry Potter has in the world!) and has just had an institute named after him at Anaheim University in the US.
Although some of the interview is the back and forth nature of linguistics research (should we teach grammar? or vocab? etc.) some nice parts are….
…about Task Based Learning:
|In a task-base approach you don’t start with the language, you start with the learners and you layout … what the kinds of things that they may potentially or actually need to do with the language. So instead of having a list of grammar items you have a list of tasks — the things the people want to do with the language.|
And on whether to start from 5 or 9 years old…
|there is this theory called the “critical period hypothesis” that something happens to the brain around about puberty and that if you start learning a language prior to puberty you are given a comparative advantage, but starting at very young age doesn’t give you an advantage.|
Interesting take on the critical period there. You can see why that makes some people nervous about starting English too early in schools.
But then he says:
|Now, I think the jury is still out because I think that one of the problems is that a lot of young learners programs are not specifically designed for young learners so they have just imported a curriculum that’s been designed for older learners and given it to young learners.|
Which I think I would tend to agree with.
Anyway, have a read of the full article and let’s discuss it in the comments below!