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尤菊芳教授的紐西蘭知性之旅

2007/06/04作者/尤菊芳
  2006年9月底,為了要去「第十屆社群語言與英語教學紐西蘭國家會議」(10th National Conference on Community Languages and ESOL 2006, Aotearoa, New Zealand)發表論文,我揮別台灣30℃的溽熱,隻身飛向5℃的紐西蘭北島霍克灣區(Hawk Bay)。原本預料的南半球孤獨之旅因為解逅了三位大師而變得成果豐碩。

  第一天一下飛機,我直接衝向研討會會場參加Prof. Marc Helgesen的工作坊:“The science of happiness in the ELT classroom”。不同於大多數TESL研討會場次偏向「教學理論」或「教學實務」,Prof. Helgesen在一波波的笑聲中闡述「快樂」這個心理現象及其生化機制,不僅給參與者甜的要命的巧克力糖吃,還發給每個人一個紅包,裡面有兩元紐幣(NT$40)。因為關於快樂的研究顯示:「只要是意外得來的獎賞,不管大小,都能讓人開心一天(make a person's day)」。工作坊結束,我突發奇想的問 Prof. Helgesen可否接收我的訪問,他欣然接受邀請,並提供了一整片光碟的演講資料,方便我整理他keynote speech(Language planning: a tool to connect theory to practice)的內容或翻譯成中文發表。

  研討會第二天中午,國際知名語言學家Prof. David Crystal[01]
Prof. Crystal著作等身,詳細資料請參考他的個人網站。最為國人熟知的鉅作是English as a Global Language 2000年中文版《英語帝國》。
的“Only Connect: Living in Linguistic Fragments No Longer”擠爆了會場的演講大廳。這場語驚四座的演講在中午一點開鑼,Prof. Crystal以其獨特優雅的嗓音,娓娓道出「連結」(Connect)在語言表達中神奇的關鍵性。趁著書迷大排長龍等Prof. Crystal簽名的時機,我趨前表達來自敦煌書局 [02]
Prof. Crystal 2006年出版的兩本書,Words, Words, WordsThe Fight for English,由Oxford University Press(OUP)出版,而敦煌書局則是OUP台灣獨家代理商。上述兩本書目前尚未進口。
的問候。在Prof. Crystal的同意下,我幾度與主辦單位協商,終於獲得首肯讓《敦煌英語教學電子雜誌》(以下簡稱CET)全文轉載Prof. Crystal收錄在研討會論文集中的演講稿。

  第三位順利訪問的對象才是唯一在事先就打算要接觸的國際知名學者Prof. Rod Ellis。我依原先的規劃,從研討會開幕那一刻起,就四處詢問如何能聯絡到這位隱居在紐西蘭好山好水間的大人物。當我終於找到Prof. Rod Ellis時,他只剩半天就要搭機返回奧克蘭。但出乎意料的,他爽快地擠出登機前的空檔,接受我半小時簡短的訪問,同時也答應讓我錄下他keynote speech(Task-based teaching: sorting out the misunderstandings)的內容並於適當時機刊載於《敦煌英語教學電子雜誌》

  結束格外豐碩的紐西蘭之旅,踏上歸途。午夜步出桃園機場,迎接我的竟然是徐徐涼風。抬頭望見滿天星斗,彷彿穿越時空瞥見了霍克灣的碧海藍天,我不經意的調整了一下輕簡的背包,心中充滿踏實,我帶回來了滿滿行囊,要與大家分享。

  2006年9月底,為了要去「第十屆社群語言與英語教學紐西蘭國家會議」(10th National Conference on Community Languages and ESOL 2006, Aotearoa, New Zealand)發表論文,我揮別台灣30℃的溽熱,隻身飛向5℃的紐西蘭北島霍克灣區(Hawk Bay)。原本預料的南半球孤獨之旅因為解逅了三位大師而變得成果豐碩。

  第一天一下飛機,我直接衝向研討會會場參加Prof. Marc Helgesen的工作坊:“The science of happiness in the ELT classroom”。不同於大多數TESL研討會場次偏向「教學理論」或「教學實務」,Prof. Helgesen在一波波的笑聲中闡述「快樂」這個心理現象及其生化機制,不僅給參與者甜的要命的巧克力糖吃,還發給每個人一個紅包,裡面有兩元紐幣(NT$40)。因為關於快樂的研究顯示:「只要是意外得來的獎賞,不管大小,都能讓人開心一天(make a person's day)」。工作坊結束,我突發奇想的問 Prof. Helgesen可否接收我的訪問,他欣然接受邀請,並提供了一整片光碟的演講資料,方便我整理他keynote speech(Language planning: a tool to connect theory to practice)的內容或翻譯成中文發表。

  研討會第二天中午,國際知名語言學家Prof. David Crystal[01]
Prof. Crystal著作等身,詳細資料請參考他的個人網站。最為國人熟知的鉅作是English as a Global Language 2000年中文版《英語帝國》。
的“Only Connect: Living in Linguistic Fragments No Longer”擠爆了會場的演講大廳。這場語驚四座的演講在中午一點開鑼,Prof. Crystal以其獨特優雅的嗓音,娓娓道出「連結」(Connect)在語言表達中神奇的關鍵性。趁著書迷大排長龍等Prof. Crystal簽名的時機,我趨前表達來自敦煌書局 [02]
Prof. Crystal 2006年出版的兩本書,Words, Words, WordsThe Fight for English,由Oxford University Press(OUP)出版,而敦煌書局則是OUP台灣獨家代理商。上述兩本書目前尚未進口。
的問候。在Prof. Crystal的同意下,我幾度與主辦單位協商,終於獲得首肯讓《敦煌英語教學電子雜誌》(以下簡稱CET)全文轉載Prof. Crystal收錄在研討會論文集中的演講稿。

  第三位順利訪問的對象才是唯一在事先就打算要接觸的國際知名學者Prof. Rod Ellis。我依原先的規劃,從研討會開幕那一刻起,就四處詢問如何能聯絡到這位隱居在紐西蘭好山好水間的大人物。當我終於找到Prof. Rod Ellis時,他只剩半天就要搭機返回奧克蘭。但出乎意料的,他爽快地擠出登機前的空檔,接受我半小時簡短的訪問,同時也答應讓我錄下他keynote speech(Task-based teaching: sorting out the misunderstandings)的內容並於適當時機刊載於《敦煌英語教學電子雜誌》

  結束格外豐碩的紐西蘭之旅,踏上歸途。午夜步出桃園機場,迎接我的竟然是徐徐涼風。抬頭望見滿天星斗,彷彿穿越時空瞥見了霍克灣的碧海藍天,我不經意的調整了一下輕簡的背包,心中充滿踏實,我帶回來了滿滿行囊,要與大家分享。



紐西蘭CLESOL研討會報導系列之一:
與Prof. Rod Ellis的第一類接觸

  全世界所有修過「第二語言習得」課程的學生幾乎都聽過Prof. Rod Ellis和他824頁的鉅著The Study of Second Language Acquisition (1994)。這次能有機會訪問大師本人,我當然希望他的專業素養充分發揮「解惑」的功能,尤其希望知道大師對一般沒有共識的議題有無獨到見解。我事先努力做功課,翻閱了幾本Prof. Rod Ellis的著作,好好的規劃了提問的方向。當他同意我所列的訪問大綱後,我們開始對談。

  為了增加精彩對談的可讀性,CET編輯群要求我提供中文摘要、必要的解說。筆者為讓讀者們有親臨訪談之感,特別將訪談錄音檔剪輯,老師們可邊讀英文原稿一邊聽著大師的原音,就如同上一堂珍貴的SLA課程。本文將以「訪談摘要、解說及英文訪問稿、錄音檔」的順序呈現。

 
 
▲Prof. Rod Ellis 與尤菊芳教授合影

1.如何區分「應用語言學」和「第二語言習得」(On how to
 distinguish studies of applied linguistics and SLA)


問:「應用語言學」和「第二語言習得」的研究有何重疊或相異之處?
答:「應用語言學」是應用和語言相關的研究來解決問題的學問,「第二語言習得」亦屬其
   領域,希望藉著了解學習者如何學習語言,找出最好的教學法(解決問題)。字典編
   纂、犯罪語言學、國家語言策略的訂定等都是「應用語言學」的子領域。換言之,「應
   用語言學」範疇很廣,但未必和學習有密切關係,如同「第二語言習得」未必和教學有
   關。
 
 「應用語言學」、「第二語言習得」和「英/外語教學」(TESL/TEFL)間的關係是什
說: 麼?這個學生常問的問題,筆者老是答得不太好。印象中,這三者的關係相當錯綜複
   雜,這次問了Prof. Rod Ellis,我終於有了完整的答案。

   (1)「應用語言學」的版圖很大,舉凡應用與「語言學」相關知識的領域都可以被歸
     納在「應用語言學」之下,當然也包括「第二語言習得」這個項目。

   (2)「外/英語教學」也是一門「應用」的學問(applied),應用了包括「語言
     學」、「第二語言習得」和「學習心理學」等領域的知識來解決教學的問題。

   (3)「外/英語教學」可以開在(應用)語言學系之下,因為它應用了相當多(但不
     限於)與之相關的知識。

1.ON HOW TO DISTINGUISH STUDIES OF APPLIED LINGUISTICS AND 
   SLA

 
Prof. Yu: How do studies of applied linguistics and SLA overlap with each
      other?

Prof. Ellis: SLA is best seen as one of the sub-fields of applied linguistics.
         Applied linguistics is a problem-solving discipline, and it aims to
         SLAuse inquiry into language to solve practical problems.
         Similarly,SLA is a problem solving discipline. It aims to
         use studies of howpeople acquire language to inform 

         language pedagogy - to make decisions about what is the
         best way to teach people. So, SLA is a sub-field of applied
         linguistics.

Prof. Yu: Could you give me a concrete example of what might be applied
      linguistics but not SLA?

Prof. Ellis: Well, examples of applied linguistics might be lexicography or
         forensic linguistics. Forensic Linguistics is the use of a linguistic
         inquiry for criminal purposes - in order to identify criminals, for
         example. Language planning is another area of applied linguistics.
         So there are different areas of applied linguistics. When we're
         talking about language planning, we're talking about what should
         be the official languages in Taiwan or the national language
         policy of New Zealand.

Prof. Yu: And then second language acquisition doesn't have anything to do 
      with teaching?

Prof. Ellis: No. second language acquisition doesn't have anything to do 
         with teaching. It's a discipline or a sub-discipline of applied
         linguistics that is concerned with trying to find out how people
         learn. What we try to find out is how people learn. Clearly, it
         has implications.for teaching and it has applications for
         language teachers.

       

3.第二語言的真實時間反應(On L2 real time process)


問:「第二語言習得」的研究主要探討學習者如何從對第二語言開始有反應,到各種語言
   應用技巧逐漸成熟。但是有人認為「第二語言習得」其實只是「資訊搜尋+執行」的
   真實時間反應能力(或譯為「即時反應能力」)。請問「真實時間」的概念在「第二
   語言習得」研究中是否佔一席之地?

答:  當然!學生在一般課堂練習的表現,通常不能直接轉化為真實時間反應(現實生活中
   及時應用的能力)。譬如,使用audiolingual教學概念的練習不能直接應用於
   communicative的情境。「任務導向語言教學」的崛起,即肇因於語言教育工作者
   迫切需要有能將練習成效轉化為真實應用能力的教學活動。如果老師們希望學生在教
   室以外的場合還有溝通能力,就必須在課堂中創造出類似的情境讓學生有「真實時
   間」的練習。
 
說:所謂「真實時間」的練習就是要求學習者做出及時反應的練習。聽、說、讀、寫都有
   「真實時間」的練習,例如:一次就聽懂廣播中關於疏散方向的指示、或隨手就能寫
   下電話留言的摘要等。「任務導向」的教學活動致力於教室中創造類似真實生活的語
   言練習機會,並期盼「類似」真實生活的語言練習,轉化成實際應用的及時反應能
   力。學習能力(認知主義理論),以及環境因素(社會文化理論)。

3.ON L2 REAL TIME PROCESS

Prof. Yu: SLA study describes what makes a learner move from starting
      responding to L2 and reaches a certain degree of fluency. Some
      people say that it only has to do with the ability of real time
      process of retrieving-and-carrying-it-out. What do you think of the
      concept of real time processing? Does it have a role in SLA?

Prof. Ellis: Yes. One of the constructs that is used to try to account for what
         makes practice effective for developing fluency and what doesn't
         make practice so effective is the notion of task appropriate
         transfer.Task appropriate transfer refers to the idea that if you
         practice language in one type of language use, your ability to

         use what you have practiced is limited to that type of language
         use and does not necessarily transfer to another type of use.

           For example, if you practice language in audiolingual pattern
         drills, then you will not necessary be able to use what you have
         practiced in communicative type situations, because there is no
         equivalence between the practice activity and the actual use
         activity. And this of course is one of the purposes of task-based
         language teaching. One of the purposes of task-based language
         teaching is try to create task appropriate transfer, because the
         idea is to create opportunities for the kind of online processing
         that you need in order to communicate freely through tasks in the
         classroom. So yes, there is a basis, in what you’re saying there,
         except I would probably want to link it more to the notion of task
         appropriate transfer.

           If you want people to communicate outside the classroom, you
         have to give them opportunity to communicate at similar
         circumstances inside the classroom.And similar circumstances
         have very much to do with online processing.Because If you're
         giving them plenty of time to process in the classroom but you're
         never getting them to experience online processing in the
         classroom, then they are never going to be able to do it in real
         life.


       
 
 

4.第二語言習得的研究範疇(On SLA findings)


問:「第二語言習得」涉及what(即:內容,包括字彙、文法、發音)和how(即:如
   何應用,包括聽、說、讀、寫)的學習。關於what的部分,我們好像對文法的學習
   狀況研究甚多,但對字彙和發音的學習狀況所知有限。

答:  研究初期的確如此,但最近20年「第二語言習得」在發音和字彙方面也累積了不少
   研究成果。譬如發現「增音」現象(epenthesis)的普遍性。「增音」是一種與發
   音有關的學習行為。學習者為了要區隔子音音群(consonant cluster)的聲音,
   傾向於其間插入母音。不論學習者的母語是什麼,在學外語的過程中,難免經歷「增
   音」的過程。另外,也有相當多的研究探討如何才能讓字彙的接觸促成學習。

說:為了要把 correct 唸清楚,刻意唸出 就是「增音」現
   象。另外,「如何才能讓字彙的接觸促成學習」的研究之所以會變得熱門,是因為學
   者們發現,學生接觸字彙的量與字彙的學習成效有極大落差,因此積極想找出怎麼樣
   的字彙接觸方式最能促進學習成效;例如:對單字記憶而言,「間隔學習」比「連續
   學習」有效,也就是說把預計一個小時要背完的單字,分成三個20分鐘來背的效果
   比連續背一個鐘頭好。

4.ON SLA FINDINGS


Prof. Yu:  Learning a new language is the learning of some 
      "what's" (vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation) and some
      "how's" (listening, speaking, reading and writing). We have seen
      so much about grammar learning/acquisition in the literature.
      What about vocabulary/pronunciation acquisition?

Prof. Ellis: I think this question is based on my black book, which was
         published in 1985. And there has been twenty years of research
         since then and there is now very substantial amount of research
         investigating both vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation
         acquisition. In the case of pronunciation acquisition, for example,

         research has shown that there tend to be certain universal
         processes at work, just as there are in the acquisition of
         grammar. One example of universal process might be what is
         called "epenthesis" – the tendency for language learners to put
         vowels in, in order to separate out consonant clusters.
         Epenthesis is quite a universal feature of language learning,
         where pronunciation is concerned. Equally, with vocabulary there
         has been a substantial amount of work that has looked at, in
         particular, how exposure to vocabulary assists learners in
         learning vocabulary.


       

5.教授「第二語言習得」的課程(On teaching SLA)


問: 該如何應用您的著作在大學或研究所中教授「第二語言習得」的課程?
答:  我建議先從90頁的那本Second Language Acquisition入門,然後把The Study
   of Second Language Acquisition當成選擇性(延伸性)閱讀參考用書,或由老師
   來指定哪些章節該讀。此外,我還會推薦Analysing Learner Language,這本書
   告訴讀者如何藉由分析學習者的語言來回答關於第二語言習得的各種問題。書中的
   每一章都介紹一個研究方法及其背景,接著讓研究新手實際應用語料練習分析,這
   本算是SLA的DIY書籍。我研究所教授SLA就是用這本書。

問:從1994年的The Study of Second Language Acquisition出版到現在,「第二語
  言習得」這個領域有沒有什麼重要的研究成果?哪些會被包括(收錄)在該書的第二版
  裡?
   
答:  The Study of Second Language Acquisition 2008年修訂版裡會介紹不少新的
   研究成果。與舊版比起來,新版有三個重要不同之處。一是社會文化理論(social-
   cultural theory)、二是認知心理學理論中的聯結主義(connectionism)、三
   是與第二語言習得有關的神經語言學(neurolinguistics of LSA)。當然,還是很
   多尚未退燒的研究主題仍持續有新的進展,也會在新版書裡討論,例如:習得的順
   序,特別是動詞的時態與時貌(verb tense and aspect)、語言轉移現象或影響
   語言習得的社會層面因素。

     另外還值得一提的是,第二語言習得這個領域有愈來愈多不強調量化結果的質
   性研究,這也算是一種研究法的「思考模式轉移」(Paradigm shift)(又稱「典
   範轉移」或「情境轉移」)。例如:採用言談分析來實際了解學習者,如何透過應
   用第二語言來學習語言。

說:關於「典範轉移」的解釋,請參照「英語教學三十年之回顧」的註解。

5.ON TEACHING SLA


Prof. Yu: How should a teacher use your books in a graduate level SLA 
      course?

Prof. Ellis:  I would probably ask them to first buy the very small book on
         SLA,which is an introduction to SLA, and then the reference-
         type book,which is my Study of Second Language Acquisition.
         I would ask them to use both. So I would first of all get them to
         read the general introduction to SLA, the very small ninety page
 
        book, and then perhaps they could follow up on some of the
         areas that they are particularly interested in, or you as a teacher
         think are particularly relevant to language teaching, and then you
         can perhaps read the relevant chapters in the big book, The
         Study of Second Language Acquisition.


           which is an introduction to SLA, and then the reference-type
         book,which came out in 2005, Analyzing Learner Language.
         Because you mentioned the idea of how to do research, and
         what Analyzing Learner Language tries to do is to present the
         different ways in which SLA researchers have tried to analyze
         learner language in order to answer the kinds of questions
         that they investigate in SLA. Each chapter, first of all, presents
         the background to that particular method of analysis, then
         describes the method of the analysis, and then has a task where
          learners can practice using that method of analysis themselves
         on some data. So I would always think of Analyzing Learner
         Language as a kind of do-it-yourself SLA course. And that's the
         book I use in my own SLA course.


Prof. Yu: What else has happened in the field of SLA that is important 
       between 1994 and now?

Prof. Ellis:  Well, examples of applied linguistics might be lexicography or
         forensic linguistics. Forensic Linguistics is the use of a linguistic
         inquiry for criminal purposes - in order to identify criminals, for
         example. Language planning is another area of applied linguistics.
         So there are different areas of applied linguistics. When we're

         talking about language planning, we're talking about what should
         be the official languages in Taiwan or the national language
         policy of New Zealand.

Prof. Yu: And then second language acquisition doesn't have anything to 
      do with teaching?

Prof. Ellis: What's happened? Well, I'm in the process of revising the big
         purple book so you can ask me what are some of the major
         developments. What are going to be some of the major
         differences between the 1994 book and the 2008 book? I think
         probably I would focus on three main areas of differences The 

         first area is definitely social-cultural theory. In the 1994 book
         there was really no mention of social-cultural theory at all,
         whereas in the 2008 book there is going be a chapter specifically
         devoted to it, and there are other references throughout the whole
         book to research that has used social-cultural theory as its
         framework. So definitely social-cultural theory.

           The other major area is that I think there has been very  

         considerable development in cognitive theories, in particular, 
         connectionism. Connectionism did figure in the 1994 book, but
         it's become quite a major theory in forming a very substantial
         amount of research now in SLA. 


           The third area that I would like to point out is that there is a  
         growing body of work that is looking at the neurolinguistics of
         SLA. How does the brain function when people are learning and
         storing knowledge in a second language? I intend to include a
         chapter on neurolinguistic aspects of SLA in the new book.


           In addition, all the areas that figure in the 1994 book are still
         very much alive, so there's still a substantial body of work that is
         looking at acquisitional orders and acquisitional sequences in
         particular with regard to verb aspect and tense and the order of
         acquisition that figures when learners develop those linguistic
         systems. There's a substantial amount of work on variability, on
         language transfer, on the social aspects of language acquisition,
         etc. So all of these are continuing.

           Probably one other difference is that...there's increasing 
         evidence of more qualitative methods for investigating SLA.
         People are using methods such as conversational analysis and
         micro genetic analysis in order to investigate how learners use a
         second language and through using a second language the kinds
         of opportunities for learning that they create. So there has also
         been a methodological shift, away from predominately
         quantitative type research to more qualitative research informed
         by analytical methods such as conversational analysis.

       

6.線上語言學習(On on-line learning)

問: 你對透過跟電腦互動而非跟人互動來學習語言,即所謂的「線上語言學習」的看法如
   何?

答:  我的確曾看到有學者在研究學習者跟電腦互動的學習狀況。我個人並不認為這樣的研
   究會對語言學習的歷程有任何特殊的深入了解或真知灼見,因為那些觀察的方式只不
   過把研究人與人互動的步驟,換成了人和電腦的互動,本質上了無新意。大多線上教
   學的材料都是都採任務導向的方式進行。分析這些線上活動和分析一般課堂活動,沒
   有本質上的差異。

問: 您認為「線上語言學習」可不可能完全取代教室的地位?

答:  我不知道該如何回答這個問題。我們的確曾看到過學習者在沒有教室、且人際互動也
   極有限的條件下,成功的學會另一種語言。成功的自學者永遠都有,因此我只能說,
   如果有很強的學習動機,僅使用「線上語言學習」仍舊有機會成功。

6.ON ON-LINE LEARNING

Prof. Yu: What else has happened in the field of SLA that is important 
      between 1994 and now?

Prof. Ellis: Well, there is an interest in how people actually learn through 
         interacting with the computer, there are a number of studies that
         are beginning to appear. I don't think these are leading to any
         more theoretical insights. I think the research that's looking at
         how people learn a language through computer interaction is

         drawing on precisely the same types of theories that inform face-
         to-face interaction.

Prof. Yu: So there's not anything new here?

Prof. Ellis: Right. They are simply looking at a different context. I think
         they're using the same theories to investigate those.


Prof. Yu:  More often task-based?

Prof. Ellis:  Yes. A lot of the actual computer-based teaching materials are
         task-based. Really, It's just a different site for learning. In
         essence, what one looks at is exactly the same as what one
         would look at in a classroom context.


Prof. Yu: Can on-line learning completely replace the classroom?

Prof. Ellis: I don't know the answer to that. I mean we always had people
         who were successfully in learning a language with minimal
         opportunities with face-to-face interaction and with no
         classroom.We've always had self-taught learners. So clearly
         it would be possible for someone with strong motivation to

         learn through using CALL.

       



7.人類大腦的可塑性(On human brain's loss of plasticity)

問:有人認為成人的大腦已經沒有學習新語言的可塑性了,所以永遠無法擁有母語人士的
  口音。真的是這樣嗎?

答:  我想,我們應該說人類的大腦永遠都不會「完全」失去可塑性,我們永遠都有學習新
   事務的能力。即使到了我這把年紀(差不多60歲啦!),就算腦袋已不如小孩般靈
   活,我還是可以學新語言,即使是很難學的中文。我們必須知道「學習速度」和「學
   習最終成果」(ultimate attainment)不能一併而論。

說:如果幼兒第二語言開始學習得早,他們的「學習最終成果」往往讓成年或青少年學習
   者無法望其項背。就學習效果而言,幼兒的表現較佳;但從速度來看,其實幼兒未必
   獨占鰲頭;反而是青少年人因為年紀大一點,學習能力和認知技巧都比較成熟,在初
   學階段學得比較快。

7.ON HUMAN BRAIN'S LOSS OF PLASTICITY

Prof. Yu:  You mention in the book that the adult's brain never loses
       plasticity. If it is true, why do adult learners rarely,
       if ever,acquire native-like accent? 


Prof. Ellis: Well. It's true that human brain never entirely loses its
       plasticity.It is possible for learning to take place at 
       anytime. It's possible for an old person like me, to
       learn a complete new language.


Prof. Yu: Like Chinese?

Prof. Ellis: Chinese is a very challenging language to learn, right? But, yes. 
         If I have the motivation, and I'm prepared to put the time in, I
         could learn Chinese. But this doesn't mean that the adult's
         brain has the same level of plasticity as a child's. Clearly a
         child's brain is more plastic than an adult's brain, but equally

         it's a fallacy to believe that very young children are necessarily
         better language learners than adolescents or young adults.
         suggest that adolescents and young adults actually learn more
         Plenty of evidence to rapidly initially. One needs to distinguish
         the issue of speed of learning from ultimate attainment. So where
         ultimate attainment is concerned, yes, children seem to do
         better.But where speed of learning is concerned, it would seem
         that adolescents and young adults in the early stages of
         language learning can outpace children, in fact, probably,
         because of their more developed cognitive abilities, and these
         assist them in the early stages of language learning. 

       

8.語言學習關鍵期(On critical period)

問:有人說:襁褓時期的幼兒如果能夠常常接觸外語的刺激,如:看卡通、聽兒歌、聽
  故事等就可以維持大腦對這個語言的可塑性,將來仍有機會把外語學的跟母語人士
  一樣地道。您的看法如何?

答:  我了解你的意思,的確有人認為文法和字彙比較不受年齡的限制,但發音的學習關
   鍵期卻可能結束得更早, Michael Long 就認為發音的學習關鍵期約在六歲而非青
   春期。如你所建議,用提早接觸來延遲「學習關鍵期」的效應,應該也算是一種觀
   點吧!

     我認為「學習關鍵期」是一個非常複雜的概念,有些年紀很大卻學得很好的個
   案暫且不論,一般我們都相信一個人說話的口音或方式跟他的族群認同有很大的關
   係。我們很難把所有外語口音的的問題都歸諸於大腦失去可塑性,這裡還有自我意
   識的問題。目前我們僅知道:青少年和成年人學外語的時候總不免帶有母語的口
   音,但我們不知道為何如此;是因為他們過了學習關鍵期所以受到先天條件的限制
   所以如此,還是因為他們不想改變原先自我認同的部份?

問:這是否與個人努力有關呢?

答:  這不僅與個人努力有關,也與是我們根深蒂固的認同問題有關。以你為例,你的英
   文說得很好,但是仍不免有華語的口音。你會多努力改掉它呢?或許在你心深處,
   也會想藉著保留母語的口音以維持對原先的自我認同。

問:這是個非常重要的問題,我得好好想一想。

答:  是嘍!我們未必能完全查覺這類自我認同的問題。我認識一位住在倫敦的法籍女
   士,她的文法與字彙能力幾近完美,但卻有濃濃的法國口音。我問她怎會如此,她
   說:「我也很想講地道的英語啊!」我又問:「那麼你希望別人認為你是英國人而
   非法國人囉!」他回答「噢,不是啦!我還是要人家知道我是法國人。」

後記:我事後好好想了一下 Prof. Ellis 的問題,我的回答如下:我對英文的重視程度
   我非常、非常地努力去改掉我的華語口音;過去如此、往後仍舊如此。但我不會因
   為講英文不帶中文口音就失去華人的身分。「我是誰?」在於我如何看待自己,而
   非別人任何看待我,有沒有華語口音都一樣。

8.ON CRITICAL PERIOD


Prof. Yu: I've read that after a certain age, or after critical period, you are  
      not able to have that plasticity in learning, but some also say that
      if learners are very young, you just let them listen. You don't have
      to ask them to respond. All you need to let them do is watch
      cartoons, listen to English songs, stories, and nursery rhymes in
      L1 to L2, or L2 to Li. You don't need to ask them to repeat or to
      have any output, but just let such exposure maintain the
      paradigm flexible and available for the later acquisition of
      pronunciation and other linguistic competencies. What are your
      opinions about this claim? 

Prof. Ellis:  I understand what you're saying. You're saying that there may
         not be a critical period where grammar or vocabulary is
         concerned; but where pronunciation is concerned, there is, and it
         starts at a very young age. Some people suggest it's as young as
         six years old, for example, Michael Long. Then you are suggesting

         that if learners receive earlier exposure to the language, then it
         is sufficient, if you like, to delay the critical period. Yes, that is
         one view.

           I think the whole issue with critical period is actually very
         complex. There are cases of learners who have started to learn in
         their 20s but have achieved accents that are native-like. But they
         may be exceptional learners. So the issue is whether it's possible
         to achieve a native-like accent beyond a certain age. It's a very
         difficult question to answer, because accent is very closely linked
         to identity. And people form their identities, and they do not
         necessarily, when they learn a second language, want to forego
         what they perceive of as their L1 identity. So the issue of identity
         and the issue of plasticity are very difficult to separate out. And
         to my mind, the whole issue of whether there is a critical period,
         for any of the language areas, is very difficult to decide. And I 
         think the jury is still out. For every person who argues there is a
         critical period, there's someone who argues there is not. What
         we do know, is that, in general, second language learners when
         they start to learn as adolescents or start to learn as adults are
         not going to achieve totally native-like accents, right? We do
         know that, but we don't know why. Is it because they passed
         the critical period and there is some neurolinguistic change
         that makes it impossible to acquire a native-like accent, or
         is it because their identity is formed and they don't want to
         change their identity. And it's going to be very difficult to
         separate out social from neurolinguistic explanations.

Prof. Yu: Is it like how hard I am willing to try to get rid of the accent?

Prof. Ellis:  Not only how hard are you willing to try but who you are deep
         down, and who you think you are prepared to become. You speak
         good English but you have a Chinese accent. How hard will you
         try to get rid of the accent? Perhaps deep down, you want to
         keep your Chinese accent. That's who you are. You are Chinese.

         And when you speak, you want to be a Chinese person. 

Prof. Yu: It's a very important question and I will have to think about it.

Prof. Ellis:  You see, things like identity are not always things that we're
         totally conscious of. I remember I knew a French woman in
         London, whose grammar was perfect and whose vocabulary was
         perfect, but she had a very strong French accent. One day, I
         asked her, "Your English is good but you have a very strong

         French accent?" She said, "Oh I'd love to get rid of it, I'd love to
         be able to just speak with an English accent." She's married to an
         English man. I said, "Oh, well that's interesting. So, you don't
         really want to be French anymore, you'd just like people to think
         of you as entirely English." She said, "Oh, no. I want people to
         know I am French."


Afterwords  I have thought very carefully about the identity issue. Now I
by Prof. Ellis:have an answer to Prof. Ellis question, "How hard will you try
          to get rid of the accent?" I will try very, very hard to get rid
          of my accent. I have been trying to do so and I will
          continue working on it. I will not lose my Chinese identity
          because I do not speak English with a Chinese accent.

          My identity is how I see myself but not how others see
          me, with or without Chinese accent.)

       

9.對ESL學習者的鼓勵(Some encouraging words to ESL
 students)


問:請您說幾句話鼓勵我的ESL學生。

答: 學好第二語言必須靠勤奮,絕無僥倖;只能努力學習,多找機會應用。另外,語言學
   習者不能停止學習,而且也沒有完全僵化這回事!

9.SOME ENCOURAGING WORDS TO L2 STUDENTS

Prof. Yu: Have you any encouraging word for ESL students?

Prof. Ellis:  Well, it's very simple. Learning a second language, learning 
         English as a second language means hard work. There is no easy
         way to learn a second language. If you want to become good at a
         second language, you've got to work at it, you've got to study it
         hard and you've got to seek out opportunities to communicate in

         it. Another thing is that language learners never stop learning.
         There is no such thing as complete fossilization.


       

 

延伸閱讀

注 釋

  • [01] Prof. Crystal著作等身,詳細資料請參考他的個人網站。最為國人熟知的鉅作是English as a Global Language 2000年中文版《英語帝國》。
  • [02] Prof. Crystal 2006年出版的兩本書,Words, Words, WordsThe Fight for English,由Oxford University Press(OUP)出版,而敦煌書局則是OUP台灣獨家代理商。上述兩本書目前尚未進口。

作者簡介

尤菊芳
  • 現任東海大學外文系及研究所專任教師
  • 美國德州大學奧斯汀分校英語教學博士
  • 1986年通過紐約市ESL教師執照考試