USIA English Language Programs

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Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Dominican Republic:
June 7-11, 1999

By Diane Larsen-Freeman, School for International Training


About the Specialist

Diane Larsen-Freeman (Ph.D in Linguistics, University of Michigan, 1975) is a Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Language Teacher Education at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA. Her books include: Discourse Analysis in Second Language Research (Newbury House, 1980), The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course (with Marianne Celce-Murcia, Newbury House, Heinle and Heinle Publishers, 1983; 1999), Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (Oxford University Press, 1986; second edition, forthcoming) and An Introduction to Second Language Acquisition Research (with Michael Long, Longman, 1991). Dr. Larsen-Freeman is also Series Director for Grammar Dimensions, a four-level English grammar series (Heinle and Heinle Publishers, 1993; 1997; forthcoming). From 1980-1985, Dr. Larsen-Freeman was Editor of the journal Language Learning. In 1997, Dr. Larsen-Freeman was inducted as a fellow into the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.


 

Areas of Specialization

Second Language Acquisition, English grammar, language teaching methods, and second/foreign language teacher education



Trip Report

I spoke at two conferences in the Dominican Republic. The first was held June 7-8, 1999 at the Centro Cultural Dominico Americano in Santiago. There were approximately 200 educators in attendance. The second was June 10-11, 1999 at the Instituto Cultural Dominico-Americano in Santo Domingo. About 400 educators participated. At each conference I delivered one plenary address and conducted three workshops.

The purpose of the address and the workshops was to challenge participants' views of grammar, its teaching, and its learning. Most educators understand grammar to be a collection of static rules about formal structures of a language. Understanding grammar in this way means instructors often teach it in a rather mechanical, decontextualized fashion, if they teach it at all. Instead, my message was that grammar is a dynamic system that gives language its power. Knowing grammar means learning to use grammatical structures accurately, meaningfully, and appropriately. Knowing grammar empowers language learners to be able to convey messages that are meaningful to them in a comprehensible and appropriate manner.

My impression was that my message was well-received. The audience was very responsive. I gave them a number of examples and experiential exercises so that some abstract ideas could be made concrete. Also, I had many spontaneous conversations with participants about the content and process of what I presented and many requests for more information, which I have honored. I was impressed by the openness of the Dominicans to to viewing traditional subject matter in a different way. I was also pleased by the support that the USIS staff in the Domincan Republic gives to English language teaching.

 

 

Suggested Bibliography

Celce-Murcia, Marianne and Diane Larsen-Freeman. (1999). The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course. Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle Publishing Company.

Larsen-Freeman, Diane. Forthcoming. Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring. Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle Publishing Company.

Larsen-Freeman, Diane. 1991. Teaching Grammar. In M. Celce-Murcia (ed.), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. Boston, MA: Newbury House.



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