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
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 – 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
The “RISE-&-GO” Principle
As we clarify our purposes for teaching, we can focus on the sciences of learning and linguistics. For the Purpose Principle, we can find purpose in three general ways (1) by creating a work or doing significant deeds; (2) by experiencing something or encountering people; and (3) by the attitude... 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
Should We Follow the Direct Method?
How Much L1 Should Language Teachers Use in Class?  The “Direct Method” says, “Rule #1 is that we should always use the target language and never use the students’ first language (L1) in class.” Though the Direct Method is dated, some English teachers may feel obligated (or perhaps guilty)... Read more
Introducing the Elements
A: Why should we not trust atoms? B: I don’t know… because we can’t see them. A: No, because they make up everything.  Atoms form the basis of everything. They are the basic building blocks of the universe. In that sense, they make up everything becuase everything is made... Read more
Element 1 – Design Features
“The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar. It was tense.” Are human beings unique? Is there something special about us that makes us different from animals? Of course, every species of animal has special or unique features. Humans make music, and birds sing. Humans create... Read more
Element 2 – Animal Communication
A Frenchman walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder. The bartender says, “Hey that’s cool. Where did you get that?” The parrot says, “I got him in France. There are millions of them there.” Animals may not be as smart as the bird in this joke,... Read more