Elemental Linguistics

The Essential Elements of Linguistics

Grand Unified Theory
Grand Unified Theory In many cultures, it is against the rules to talk about politics and religion. People have strong opinions about these things. We can say the same thing about teaching theories and methods. Teachers can have strong opinions, too. And they might argue about theory and method... Read more
1 – Communication Theory
We acquire language by communicating meaningful messages. If you study about grammar, you will know about grammar. But if you practice communication, you will learn to communicate. These opinions express a rather unbalanced view about language teaching and learning. And we would be wise to avoid having unbalanced views.... Read more
2 – Input Theory
“We acquire languages by understanding messages.” Stephen Krashen In the 1980s, linguist Stephen Krashen started a heated debate. He said there’s only one way to learn language. And all people do it. Actually, he did not like the word “learn.” Instead, he used the word “acquire.” Learning means study,... Read more
3 – Big Data Theory
We statistically acquire language by exposure to big linguistic data. With Communication Theory, we assume this. When learners communicate meaningful messages, they acquire language. With Input Theory, we assume that when learners receive understandable linguistic messages, they acquire language. But if learners want to reach higher levels of ability,... Read more
4 – Output Theory
We acquire language as we produce comprehensible output. John Wooden was one of the most successful coaches of all time. During his time at UCLA, he coached his teams to 10 national basketball championships. During one period, his team won 88 consecutive games. But Wooden didn’t mainly focus on... Read more
5 – Retrieval Theory
We acquire language when we receptively and productively retrieve it. Growing up in school, some students don’t study. Maybe they drift through school, not knowing a purpose and reason for being there. Or maybe they find school too easy! Other students may study hard. They read their assigned homework.... Read more
6 – Spacing Theory
We acquire language when we repeatedly retrieve it in spaced intervals. You have a BIG test tomorrow, but you haven’t studied yet. You think, “What am I going to do?” And your friend Joe says, “You have to pull an all-nighter.” You say, “Oh no! I have to study... Read more
7 – Interleaving Theory
We acquire language when we interleave its retrieval. In the previous two chapters, we looked at Retrieval and Spacing Theory. Briefly, let’s review. With retrieval, we recall facts, concepts, events, words, phrases, and grammatical bits from memory. We can do retrieval in receptive and productive ways. We know that... Read more
8 – Flow Theory
We acquire language by understanding compelling messages that foster flow experience. To become advanced in any language, we need time. Native speakers need the first 10 years of their lives to master complex grammar and a large vocabulary. We solve this problem with The Big Data Theory. Native speakers... Read more
9 – Noticing Theory
We acquire language as we consciously notice phonological, morphological, lexical and grammatical data in comprehensible input. How do people actually learn words and grammar? What happens in our minds when we acquire language? These are difficult questions, but our unified theories give us helpful answers. We can fill our... Read more