JOHN W. OLLER, JR. (Ph.D., Univ. of Rochester) is Director of the Communication Arts Program, Southwestern Cooperative Educational Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Former Associate Professor of Psycholinguistics at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles, he is a member of the TESOL Research Committee and the TOEFL Board of Advisors for ETS. He is the author of Coding Information in Natural Languages (The Hague: Mouton, 1971) and “Transformational Theory and Pragmatics,” MLJ, 54 (1970), 504–07.
Contrastive Analysis, Difficulty, and Predictability*
Article first published online: 31 DEC 2008
© 1972 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Foreign Language Annals
Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 95–106, October 1972
How to Cite
Oller, J. W. (1972), Contrastive Analysis, Difficulty, and Predictability*. Foreign Language Annals, 6: 95–106. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.1972.tb02553.x
- Issue published online: 31 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 31 DEC 2008
ABSTRACT Contrastive analysis (CA) is recognized as a useful technique for research into the nature of human information processing but is rejected as a foundation for second language instructional programs. CA is neither a necessary nor a sufficient basis for program design. The language teacher does not need to know how a target structure contrasts with a native structure as much as he needs to know how speakers of the target language use the structure at issue. The latter question can be asked independently of the former and suggests the possibility of a very different approach to foreign language program design. The problem becomes one of providing the learner with input that is informationally rich enough to enable him to acquire the rules of usage of the foreign language. This paper draws together some basic insights and principles of a large body of psycholinguistic research which suggests that the efficiency of learning is accelerated by an increasing organization of the materials to be learned, and that higher levels of organization which magnify the factor of predictability have the effect of exponentially accelerating the learning process.