Dr. ClaudeGermain, Professor Emeritus at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), wasinvited to give a talk to researchers and students at Guangdong University ofForeign Studies on the 28th of September. In his talk, The Neurolinguistic Approach (NLA): theoretical foundations andpractical results, Dr. Germain first explained the theoretical framework ofNLA, mainly drawing from Paradis’ Neurolinguistic Theory of Bilingualism (2004) in resolving thequestion of how to develop communication skills in a second or foreign language(L2) in institutional settings, and a view of pedagogy of literacy specific toL2. To demonstrate how to put the NLA into practice，Dr. Germain showed some classroomvideos taken in Canada and at South China Normal University (SCNU). At thefinal part, Dr. Germain presented a two-year experiment of the NLA in Guangzhouand concluded that research in cognitive neuroscience can make importantcontributions to L2 teaching.
The NLA wasdeveloped in 1998 by two Canadian researchers, Dr. Claude Germain and Dr. JoanNetten. As a theory-driven approach in second language teaching, the NLA drawsheavily from Paradis’ Neurolinguistic Theory of Bilingualism (2004), notablythe distinction between implicit and explicit memory, procedural anddeclarative memory, skills and knowledge, lexicon and vocabulary, acquisitionand learning. Dr. Germain argued that there is no direct link between these twoset of concepts based on the findings of cognitive neurolinguistics. Accordingto the theoretical framework, the NLA argues that L2 teaching should focus onuse rather than on form or on meaning. It emphasizes the importance of focusingon the oral development first. In practice, the NLA advocates to teach L2 oralskills through sentences, reading through paragraphs, writing through texts,and projects through projects.
Dr. Germain’stalk triggered a spirited discussion between the audience and the speaker. Onekey issue was how to form a connection between explicit and implicit memorysince there is no direct link between them. Another issue concerns the startingpoint of L2 learners: Unlike the students in the experiment who almost knewnothing about L2, the students of the most of the audience have learned theirL2 for years and the audience wanted to know whether the same principle andteaching strategies apply. Dr. Germain provided his insights to both issues andcalled for further research into these two and other relevant issues. He alsocalled for cooperation between L2 researchers and L2 teachers.
Paradis, M. (1994) Neurolinguistic aspects of implicit and explicit memory: implications for bilingualism. In N. Ellis (ed.), Implicit and explicit learning of Second Languages. London: Academic Press. 393-419.