Memorandum: On Needed Research in the Psycholinguistic and Applied Psycholinguistic Aspects of Language Teaching


  • John B. Carroll

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      John B. Carroll (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is now a Senior Research Psychologist at Educational Testing Service, Princeton, where he is chairman of the Human Learning and Cognition Research Group. For seventeen years previously, he was a faculty member at the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, becoming Professor of Educational Psychology in 1956. His professional specialty is the psychology of language, and within this area he has devoted much attention to problems of teaching, testing, and research in foreign languages. He published The Study of Language (Harvard University Press) and Language and Thought (Prentice-Hall), as well as numerous articles on educational and psychological measurement and psycholinguistics. With Stanley Sapon, he developed the Modern Language Aptitude Test (Psychological Corporation). He is a founding member of the National Academy of Education and has served on numerous committees concerned with the development of research and studies in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and foreign language teaching. (This memorandum was prepared for the Ford Foundation. It is published here because it reflects succinctly Dr. Carroll's vast experience as a researcher and scholar in the field of linguistics.)


ABSTRACT: Interest in basic theoretical and empirical studies in psycholinguistics has grown recently, but little work has been done to show relevance to language learning. Foreign language teaching methodologies are supported by very little empirical evidence, and applied psycholinguistic research in second-language teaching is only beginning to identify critical variables in instructional methods. In the teaching of English as a second language and the teaching of standard English to disadvantaged children, psycholinguistics may have much to offer. But before the application of psycholinguistics in these areas can become truly meaningful, specific problems must be defined and training programs must produce competent, interested researchers.