chapter  11
Key concepts in language learning and language education
ByDiane Larsen-Freeman
Pages 16

In this chapter, I identify key concepts in language learning and language education. Rather than attempting to compile a comprehensive inventory of concepts, undoubtedly limited by my own experience, I have chosen a generative, question-posing approach, one that I have made use of over the years to situate developments in the field. It is in answering these questions that the key concepts emerge, a process I will illustrate by offering a few answers to each question. In order to bring some coherence to my discussion, I will adopt a heuristic in the form of a triangle (Figure 11.1). In the top angle of the triangle, there is the teacher, who does the teaching. In the lower left

angle, there is the subject matter. In the case of language education, this has meant the language and usually the culture in which it is embedded. The lower right angle of the triangle refers to the language learners in the process of doing the learning. The triangle is situated within a context, broadly interpreted to mean any place, situation, or time in which language education takes place. For instance, it could be in a national context or a more local classroom context with a particular group of students at a particular period of time, etc. Contextual factors affect answers to the questions, as do the prevailing theories at a particular period of time. In other words, there are no absolute answers to these questions at any one time or over time, and I make no claim that more recent evolutionary phases are necessarily superior to those which preceded them. Yet, even though the questions have not always been explicit nor their answers absolute, in this chapter they provide a useful framework for identifying the key concepts in the evolution of language learning and education.