Improving Foreign Language TeachingLearning in Exolingual Learning Contexts

S. N. Punchihetti Rathnayake

Abstract


In the globalised world today, more and more people aspire to becomemultilinguals. However, most people acquire their target foreign languages in theirnative countries, without having ever visited a place where those languages are used inday-to-day communication. Such learners, whom we name „exolingual‟ learners in thispaper (as opposed to „endolingual‟ learners who acquire languages in learning contextswhere their target language is spoken outside the classroom), have a greater risk offalling short of achieving their objective. Many reasons for such failures could be linkedto obstacles which are inherent to exolingual language learning contexts. However, inthe field of acquisitional linguistics, foreign language acquisition is often studiedalongside first and second language acquisition, that is, under language acquisition inendolingual learning contexts.

Our objective in doing this study was to research into an exolingual context offoreign language learning and to precisely identify obstacles linked with such learningcontexts. In order to do this, we opted to study a particular exolingual context of foreignlanguage learning: namely the context of foreign language learning in Sri Lanka. Theselected target foreign language being French, the methods of research includedobservations of French classes, studying of French text books used in those foreignlanguage classes and discussions with students and teachers of French.

At the conclusion of the study, we discovered how little the contexts ofendolingual and exolingual language learning have in common. Except for targeting acommon language in its fundamental form, endolingual and exolingual languagelearning situations differ largely from each other when we consider their classroom,social, cultural and academic set ups; teaching and learning methods, techniques andmaterial; learner motivation, objectives, etc. As an obvious consequence, the outcomeof the teaching/learning process in the two different learning situations too is hardly thesame.

Key words: Foreign languages, Teaching/learning, Endolingual/exolingual contexts

 


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