We Think We Are Evening in Paris, But We're Really Chanel*


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    Revised version of keynote speech at the Annual Meeting of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Denver, Colorado, 29 November 1974.


ABSTRACT  Concerned by an absence of satisfaction and pride in the profession, the author appeals for a careful examination of our educational values. Although not advocating abandonment of interest in the practical uses of language skills, he discusses with greater interest the nonlinguistic outcomes of foreign language study. Among these is the hypothesis that such study prepares a student for the phenomenon called ‘future shock,’ which in essence is a lack of familiar cues. Faced with this situation, the foreign language learner must learn adapting and coping skills that are applicable far beyond the classroom. He also examines the hypothesis that foreign language learning is so rich in intellectual skills, cognitive operations, and thinking processes that a person must be different intellectually as a result of such study. Drawing on the work of educational psychologists, who today see learning as being of multiple kinds, the conclusion is drawn that foreign language learning is the richest discipline in involving, often simultaneously, all these multiple varieties of learning. Since our discipline is content free, i.e., not bound to a specific area of knowledge or information, the teacher has great potential for achieving the goals of humanistic or affective education-helping the student discover his identity. In addition, since most students begin their study of foreign language at ‘ground zero,’ the teacher has the opportunity to give learners a feeling of accomplishment and enhanced self-concepts. Finally, the author hypothesizes that our subject area has the greatest potential for providing the learner with insights into the process of communication and ways to attain cross-cultural communication.