Vol. 5. No. 4 A-1 March 2002
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Toward Principled Eclecticism in Language Teaching: The Two-Dimensional Model and the Centring Principle

J. Dean Mellow
Simon Fraser University


To achieve the goal of principled eclecticism (coherent, pluralistic language teaching), the paper proposes principles for categorizing, selecting, and sequencing teaching/learning activities. Activities are categorized in relation to the Two-Dimensional Model, four quadrants that result from the intersection of the dimensions of language and learning. Language is categorized as form or function. Learning is categorized as construction or growth. The centre of the quadrant is characterized as contextualized attention to signs. The Centring Principle (CP) constrains selection and sequencing: Activities within a lesson should (i) maintain coherence by consistently focusing upon the same formal and/or functional units, and (ii) be sequenced so that, by the end of the lesson, learners have engaged in activities that require contextualized attention to signs. Revealing a fundamental similarity across different approaches, lessons consistent with the CP are illustrated. The paper provides directions for evaluating the CP in relation to teacher thinking and learning outcomes.

Keywords:ESL,EFL,applied linguistics, second language instruction, eclecticism


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