ATA Magazine

Second-language learning 33 years ago

Illustration of a women walking through a portal on an orange background

Archival issues of the ATA Magazine can be just as relevant now as they were when originally published, or they can remind us how far we’ve come. You decide.

Check out these items from the May/June 1991 issue of the ATA Magazine, which focused on second-language learning.

“Learning to ‘listen’ to my students ‘talk’ (verbally and nonverbally) has proven to be a major task in second-language teaching. While many of the difficulties in communication are the obvious result of mistakes in words or expressions, effective second-language teaching requires a commitment to the many subtleties of expression—taken-for-granted assumptions, a sensitivity to the needs and world of the student and plenty of understood humour on both sides of the classroom.”

— Gae Mackwood, “Adventures in ESL”

“If cultural differences were mentioned, it was usually done so from the perspective of the hegemonic culture, with the ESL student seen in terms of his or her differences from some magical Anglo-conformist norm. As budding ESL teachers, we were seldom encouraged to understand the pivotal cultural issues. Serious consideration of matters such as intercultural awareness were topics for cross-cultural psychology, not for ESL teacher training, according to the traditionalists. … That race, culture, language and ethnicity form the context of educational practice for these students is seldom a real consideration, and we all are poorer for it.”

— Agnes Yu, “Reflections on Immigrant Education”

“Now that I teach French immersion, it is this, above all, that I want my students to understand. If they can become effective communicators in another language, they will have the key to many doors, but more importantly, to many hearts and minds.”

— Barbara Larochelle, “The Key to Many Doors”