Special Issue: A Century of Language Teaching and Research: Looking Back and Looking Ahead, Part 1 || Introduction to the Special Issue: A Century of Language Teaching and Research: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

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<ul><li><p>Introduction to the Special Issue: A Century of Language Teaching and Research: Looking Backand Looking AheadAuthor(s): James P. LantolfSource: The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 84, No. 4, Special Issue: A Century of LanguageTeaching and Research: Looking Back and Looking Ahead, Part 1 (Winter, 2000), pp. 467-471Published by: Wiley on behalf of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers AssociationsStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/330301 .Accessed: 25/06/2014 10:20</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Wiley and National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations are collaborating with JSTOR todigitize, preserve and extend access to The Modern Language Journal.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:20:14 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=blackhttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=nfmltahttp://www.jstor.org/stable/330301?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Introduction to the Special Issue </p><p>A Century of Language Teaching and Research: Looking Back and Looking Ahead </p><p>JAMES P. LANTOLF Centerfor Language Acquisition The Pennsylvania State University 5 Sparks Building University Park, PA 16802 Email: jpl7@psu.edu </p><p>IN THE SUMMER OF 1996, I WAS SEARCHING for information on early doctoral dissertations on language teaching and learning. Knowing that The Modern LanguageJournal currently publishes a listing of recent dissertations in this area, I thought perhaps the Journal might have always followed this practice. It turned out that I was right. Not only did the MLJ, from the beginning of its existence in 1916, publish an inventory of dissertations on language teaching and learning, it included a listing of dissertations in linguistics and literary studies as well. More important, how- ever, with respect to the present project, when I casually leafed through the pages of some of the early volumes of the Journal, a fascinating portrait of the 20th-century roots of the language teach- ing field began to emerge. Very quickly I was hooked and ended up spending the better part of that summer sitting in the stacks of the Olin Li- brary at Cornell University reading the MLJ. </p><p>As it happened, the current editor of the MLJ, Sally Magnan, and I were part of a team of outside reviewers invited to evaluate the language pro- </p><p>The Modern LanguageJournal, 84, iv, (2000) 0026-7902/00/467-471 $1.50/0 ?2000 The Modern Language Journal </p><p>grams at a major university in the fall of 1996. One evening over dinner we began to talk about what I had encountered reading through the pages of the Journal. Eventually, we decided a special retrospective issue of the MLJ, which traced some of the important developments in the field as reflected in the pages of the Journal, might be an interesting and appropriate way of marking the turn of the century. At the meeting of theJournals editorial board held at the ACTFL Conference in November of that same year, we presented our proposal for a retrospective issue. With considerable enthusiasm, the board agreed that a special issue would be a worthwhile under- taking, and indeed several of the board members volunteered to contribute manuscripts on a topic of interest. At the time, no one suspected that the task we had embarked upon would be as daunt- ing as it has turned out to be. Over its more than 8-decade history, more than 4,000 articles, notes, book reviews and editorials have appeared in the MLJ. Surveying a representative sampling of pub- lications on some of the major themes relating to language teaching that have appeared in the pages of the Journal has not been easy. Clearly, we have not been able to deal with all of the topics, and we, no doubt, are open to some criticism for </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:20:14 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>468 </p><p>areas we opted to include, as well as for those we decided to exclude. Nevertheless, we are confi- dent that readers of the special issue will find a good deal of interesting and informative reading on the history of many of the domains that co- here to create the field of language teaching and learning. </p><p>We decided to cover 11 topics in the special retrospective issue. In addition to taking a retro- spective stance, each contribution also offers at least a partial prospective glance into the new century. Because of length constraints, the spe- cial issue will be published in two installments, the first in this the final issue of 2000 and the second in the initial issue of 2001. The 5 topics included in the first installment are as follows: the influence of linguistics and psychology on the field, the development of teacher education pro- grams, language learners and their relationship to language teachers, language testing, and liter- ary analysis and its teaching. The second install- ment will comprise 6 articles focusing on the fol- lowing topics: the controversy over the place of foreign language (FL) in the school curriculum; developments in language teaching methodol- ogy, the integration of technology and language pedagogy, experimental research, perspectives on MLJ book reviews, and a history of the MLJ's editorial policy. </p><p>As we worked on the project, it became clear, based on the commentary provided by the review- ers of the articles, that we were confronting a scope problem. Several reviewers were concerned that, because of our focus on a single journal, we are not presenting the full picture on any given topic. Presenting comprehensive histories of the topics was, by design, not our intent. We are of- fering, instead, a chronology of important themes in language teaching as seen through the eyes of one of the oldest and most widely read journals in the field. Despite changing editorial policies of the Journal throughout the course of its history, it seems clear that what it chose to publish in any given epoch is, to a considerable extent, representative of what was going on in the field in general at the time. A brief look at articles that appeared in such journals as Hispania, The Moder Language Bulletin, Monatshefte, The School Review, The Journal of Education, and The Educa- tional Review reveals that their contents closely paralleled what was published in the MLJ. We are confident that the topics covered as well as the content of the articles here surveyed are repre- sentative of developments in the field over the course of the last century. </p><p>This shortcoming aside, the special issue pro- </p><p>The Modern Language Journal 84 (2000) </p><p>vides some interesting reading. Many of us, for example, are familiar with the contributions of people such as Wallace Lambert, Dwight Bolin- ger, Nelson Brooks, Robert Politzer, Paul Pim- sleur, and John B. Carroll, but I suspect that for all but the serious devotee of the history of the field, scholars such as Walter Kaulfers, Algernon Coleman, Charles Handschin, Otto Bond, Peter Hagboldt, James B. Tharp, Grace Young, Helen Eaton, and Heyward Keniston are not among those names that are easily recognized, yet they were important players in shaping the profession in its early days and were regular contributors to the MLJ. Many of these by now obscure names will resurface in the articles included in the retro- spective issue, which we invite readers to ap- proach with an open mind. You will be offered a fascinating glimpse into the history of the field as it is documented in the pages of the MLJ. Many of the problems that the profession continues to wrangle with today-proficiency testing, individ- ual differences, motivation, aptitude, teacher preparation, effective teaching methodolo- gies-were at the center of concern for our predecessors throughout most of the last century. One can only hope that our successors will not be grappling with these same problems at the con- clusion of the present century. </p><p>Among the many interesting aspects of the Journal that I discovered as I read through its thousands of pages is that many of the articles carried in the first third of the MLfs existence were authored by language teachers or supervi- sors affiliated with secondary schools. Of the total of 30 articles carried in the initial volume of the Journal (1916-1917), 12 (40%) were published by individuals with secondary school affiliations. Perhaps this should not be too surprising given that the Journal was the official organ of the Na- tional Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association, whose membership was largely com- prised of public school teachers and, as Heidi Byrnes reminds us in her contribution, at the outset of its life the MLJ "was neither a linguistics nor a psychologyjournal but ajournal for and by practitioners." In subsequent issues, the percent- age of contributions from the secondary school sector dropped to around 17% and remained roughly at this level, with a few exceptions (in Volume 11, published in 1927, the percentage rose to 33%) until about the time of WWII, when it declined sharply to about 6%. It remained at this rate for the next 2 decades, although in 1966 and 1967, due in large part to contributions fo- cusing on FLES programs, the rate rose to ap- proximately 15%. By the mid-1970s, contribu- </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:20:14 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>James P Lantolf </p><p>tions from those in the secondary schools were limited to one- or two-page notes. </p><p>It is probably not by chance that school teach- ers began to disappear from the pages of the MLJ at about the time the linguists and the psycholo- gists came onto the scene and introduced special- ized jargon and a scientific approach to the study of language, language teaching, and language learning. To be sure, several of the early studies on language proficiency were published by indi- viduals with secondary school affiliation, but these studies generally did not represent a fo- cused research agenda as was the case with schol- ars from the major universities, who published regularly in the MLJ. Consequently, reports on how to teach students to use the Spanish subjunc- tive correctly or on the use of songs to teach French culture-which had been at one point featured articles, often contributed by school teachers-were relegated to more marginalized status within the Journal. Focus was placed on the relevance of phonological analysis of a particular language, or on the relevance of morphological analysis for the teaching of vocabulary. In short, with the advent of the linguists and the psycholo- gists, the teaching of FLs was to be built on a "scientific" research foundation-an enterprise in which teachers apparently were unable to par- ticipate. As a consequence, teachers were no longer producers, but were consumers of knowl- edge related to language learning and teaching, that is, of research that was increasingly con- ducted in sites far removed from the world they inhabited. </p><p>Although several world events have impacted on our field, as the MLJ documents, three, all having to do with human conflicts, have had spe- cial consequences for the field: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, marked particu- larly by the Soviet's launching of Sputnik. Of the three, however, WWII clearly had the most pro- found and lasting impact on language study in the United States. Because of the need for large numbers of soldiers and others involved in the war effort who had speaking and aural compre- hension ability in a wide variety of languages, the well-known Army Special Training Program (ASTP) came into existence. Owing to its success, those in the educational domain believed that it would be possible to adapt the techniques em- ployed in the ASTP to fit the secondary and post- secondary settings. As a consequence, as Kramsch and Kramsch's study documents, the study of FL no longer meant study of foreign literature, but the development of speaking and listening profi- ciency. In the decade following the conclusion of </p><p>469 </p><p>the War, the bifurcation between language and literature study grew increasingly greater. The Cold War and the launching of Sputnik in 1957 raised national security concerns to the point that, in 1958, the federal government established its National Defense Education Act (NDEA) insti- tutes to promote the learning of FLs, including especially Russian. These institutes legitimized the chasm between language learning and litera- ture study that had begun during the war years. In many respects, university FL departments con- tinue to be polarized by this division today, even though in most cases language and literature fac- ulty cohabitate. Perhaps the guarded optimism expressed by Kramsch and Kramsch at the con- clusion of their article, that in the present cen- tury we may be able to find innovative ways of reintegrating the learning of FLs and the study of </p><p>foreign literature, will be realized. Prior to the First World War, as documented in </p><p>the MLJ, the most popular FL studied in the United States was German, far outstripping French, which was a distant second. The study of Spanish at this time was hardly noticeable. Once the United States entered the war, however, en- rollments in German declined precipitously, and French replaced German as the most widely stud- ied modern FL. German, in fact, fell to third place after Spanish, whose study was seen as im- portant, not because the culture and literature of its speakers was seen as worthy of study, as was the case with French, but because it was important for commercial markets opening up in Latin Amer- ica. During WWI, the pages of the MLJcontained some exceptionally vitriolic articles that railed against the study of German-the language of the despised enemy. It is interesting that during the Second World War the same type of negative arti- cles against German language and culture did not appear in the pages of the MLJ. </p><p>With these preceding remarks as background, I would now like to present a brief overview of each of the five articles included in the first in- stallment of this special retrospective issue. The initial article, by Heidi Byrnes, documents the discussions and debates carried on in the MLJ regarding the relative contributions of linguist...</p></li></ul>