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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 1, 2012

Reconsidering the role of practice in foreign language teaching and learning

Mirosław Pawlak


Although the need for practice in taken for granted by many learners who view it as an integral part of foreign and second language learning, theorists and researchers are sharply divided on this issue. The proponents of the so-called zero grammar option, such as Krashen (1985), believe that language classrooms should replicate as much as possible the conditions of naturalistic discourse and there is hardly any place for practice. The proponents of focus on form, such as Long (1996), do recognize a contribution of pedagogical intervention, but it should be embedded in communicative activities and mainly take the form of corrective feedback, with the effect that the practice of specific language features is limited. Finally, the proponents of skill-learning theory, such as DeKeyser (1998), view practice as crucial since it is indispensable for the conversion of declarative knowledge into procedural knowledge. Given such conflicting opinions, the aim of the paper is to disambiguate some of the controversies and problems surrounding the place of practice in language learning, describe the forms it can take and single out such arrangements which are the most beneficial in the foreign language classroom with a special view to the language teaching context in Poland.

Received: 2011-07-12
Revised: 2011-11-12
Accepted: 2011-11-20
Published Online: 2012
Published in Print: 2012

© School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2012

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