Cainntear wrote:This is where the whole natural/direct/exposure method falls apart. Krashen was pretty clear:
“WE ACQUIRE LANGUAGE WHEN WE UNDERSTAND MESSAGES, WHEN WE UNDERSTAND WHAT PEOPLE TELL US AND WHEN WE UNDERSTAND WHAT WE READ.”
That's 100% focus on meaning. He believed that if you understand, your brain will acquire the form effortlessly.
Crosstalk is pretty much 100% meaning-focused.
Focus-on-form is of course possible in a target-language only classroom, but that's a classroom, not a bunch of videos and conversations with untrained speakers.
You do draw a clear contrast between focus on meaning vs focus on form, and it makes sense, but I also can't outright disagree with the underlying philosophies of either of them and I'm in favour of seeing research continue in multiple competing directions (see my related comments below).
pilot_2270 wrote:I'll be honest and say that I like looking through the research a lot, but I don't think I get much more out of it anymore. I feel like I keep on reading and re-reading the research to see what practical advice I can get out of it, but I don't get much more out of it than when I started. And then I get the sinking feeling that I should really be doing actual work instead of this academic posturing.
I completely agree with this sentiment. There is typically a chain of experts that research output goes through before it is converted into a form that end consumers receive. Interestingly, seriously motivated self learners might be more inclined to bypass that chain and go straight to the source, but then find that the research is not all that practical for them specifically. Part of this may be that the research is mainly focused on improving traditional education, improving teaching methods and educational material, whereas the kind of person who might want to bypass the chain in the first place is probably a self learner who doesn't want that kind of education. If the research were more focused on the latter, it would aim to provide advice and techniques more on how a learner could "self"-improve their ability to notice things (like form) and improve their psychology and attitude, rather than on how the educator could create second order effects for the learner.
As someone who's gone through a higher research degree in a different field, I have huge respect for researchers who scientifically and rigorously arrive at new knowledge, but I also do not discount the "practical" advice of regular people without scientific training who've become successful at a skill and share their introspective views, especially in areas where the science is not as hard cut as you might like it to be. Here, I'm talking about successful language learners like Steve Kaufmann, Mike Campbell, and many others who have valuable introspective views to share that might be more practical for a self learner than the SLA literature would be, at least in its raw form. What I like about taking advice from people like this is that there is a much wider variety of approaches taken by successful language learners online, and so you can evaluate which approaches align most with your goals. For example, Khatz (AJATT), who's been rated
by Japanese natives as having a near native accent, advocates for massive immersion and avoiding speaking until you've hit a certain immersion milestone and Anki sentence deck milestone (and some even more extreme things). However, reaching this milestone may take a year or more, depending on how much time you can put into it. Should you listen to him? That extreme approach might not align with some people's goals, but it might align with others. If you're a self learner with specific goals, you're bound to find multiple successful language learners online who share your goals and can share with you their specific tips in relation to those goals.
Also, from an outsider who reads the SLA literature as a hobby, the debate between the various SLA theories strikes me largely as a debate where all of the current, popular competing theories are right to an extent but none of them individually cover the whole truth. So to the extent that a motivated self-learner is looking for "practical" advice to try, they should in my opinion feel free to ignore the "debate" where even experts have strongly opposed and balanced views, be open to the truth being somewhere in the middle, mix and match different techniques that resonate with you, the individual, and as you say, get on with doing actual work which I'm sure is a more important factor to success than any other.
This reminds me of the comical religious debate in the computer programming world over which is the best text editor for writing code. Emacs or vi?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Editor_war
These two text editors have completely different philosophies and the arguments for each seem to make sense within their respective bubbles and to the extent that there is internal consistency, it is self-reinforcing. What ended up happening over time is that 4 decades later, both editor philosophies still exist, and both have evolved, independently and with crossover influence, even new editors have come out that take a new spin on an old philosophy. The question of which philosophy is best may never be settled, but one thing is clear: there is benefit to having different people simultaneously working in completely different directions. This is how new ideas are discovered and how crossover influence becomes possible.