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Training in Less Commonly Taught Languages for the 21st Century

Fallou Ngom, PhD

Associate Professor of Anthropology Director, African Language Program  Boston University
Board Member of the African Studies Association


The distinction between language learning and acquisition in the field of applied linguistics is not fortuitous. While the former is construed as artificial, the latter is understood as natural and deeply embedded in the socialization process. From the times of the Grammar Translation Method, the Silence Way, the Audio-lingual Method, to our era of the Learner-centered Communicative Teaching Approach and Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL), the central challenge in language teaching and learning remains the same. It is about how to make the artificial learning experience mirror the natural acquisition process so that learners gain knowledge of the language and culture in ways that mirror the native speakers’ experience. Put in another way, the age-old challenge in language teaching and learning has been about how to make the classroom mimic the target language context in which naturally occurring language is entwined with the local culture.

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