Elemental Linguistics

The Essential Elements of Linguistics

1 – The Input Revolution
A Stressful Shaking I was taping a talk when it started. The room began to shake. I’ve been in many earthquakes, but this one was different. It started slowly, and it got bigger, louder, and meaner. I froze. “This is bad,” I said to myself. I knew it was... Read more
2 – Old Grammar School
Teacher: It’s grammar time! Johnny, tell me the names of two pronouns. Johnny: What, who, me? We know that advanced speakers use grammar without thinking about rules. In fact, they may use the rules perfectly, but at the same time, they may have trouble explaining them. With Johnny above,... Read more
3 – The Direct Method’s Rule
Mary: Do you have trouble making decisions? Jim: Well…yes and no. Teachers make decisions. They decide about books, lessons, and methods. Methods often have guidelines or rules to help teachers make decisions. These rules make it easy to decide. But one method has a famous rule that we should... Read more
4 – Drill, Imitate, Repeat: Audio-Lingualism
Teacher: Joey, what is five times five? Joey: Twenty-five! Teacher: Hey, that’s pretty good. Joey: Pretty good? No, It’s perfect! In this joke, the teacher praises Joey’s behavior. But Joey changes the focus. Yes, his learning behavior may be pretty good. But his answer is perfect! When a teacher... Read more
5 – Teaching as Counseling
A man went to see a psychologist. The doctor said, “How can I help you?” The man said: “Doctor, I feel like nobody understands me.” The doctor said, “What do you mean by that?” A good psychologist listens. When a patient speaks, a psychologist often asks for more information.... Read more
6 – Language Learning with Action
A waitress brought a man a cup of coffee and a donut. The man looked at the donut and said, “Why is my donut smashed?” The waitress said, You told me, ‘Bring me a cup of coffee. Get me a donut. And step on it!” In this joke, the... Read more
7 – Teaching Through Communication
One day a woman decided to take a walk. As she walked along, she saw a man with a monkey. The woman asked the man, “Hey, where did you get that monkey?” The man replied, “I found him in the street. Why do you ask?” The woman answered, “Well..... Read more
8 – Content is King
  Eight: Content is King It was just before the final test. Nervous students sat waiting for their history teacher to arrive. When she came, a student approached her. He said, “I have a question about my grade. What score do I need on the test to pass the... Read more
9 – Get the Job Done
9 – Get the Job Done: Task-Based Instruction A father looked at his lazy son. The young man always sat on the couch and played video games. The father sighed and said, “Why don’t you get a job?” The son replied, “Why should I get a job?” The father... Read more
10 – Learn the Top Words First
All Words Are Not Equal We use some words many times every day. We call these “high frequency words.” We use other words maybe a few times a day. We call these “mid-frequency” words. And we use other words maybe once a month. We call these “low-frequency” words. These... Read more