Early Emphasis on Speaking: An Associative Approach to Foreign Language Learning



ABSTRACT  Associative speaking is an attempt at making oral communication the central activity in foreign language classes as early as the second semester. Comparable to the stream-of-consciousness technique in literature, associative speaking allows the student free choice of syntactical expression (word, phrase, or complete sentence) and a much greater selection of lexical options than traditional conversation. Students can sustain communication, contribute more frequently, and develop communicative skills earlier than in four-skill language classes. Strong motivational forces such as imagination, humor, and wit, usually stifled by the demands of grammar and a limited rational context, become operative within the framework of limited linguistic expression determined entirely by the student. By playfully exploring the combinative potential of language, he is encouraged to express such personal emotions as joy, anger, etc., which increases the probability of language retention. Grammar practice is given a preparatory function as part of substantial homework assignments.