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Untapped principles of language-teaching

Bailey, Charles-James N.

No claim is being made here that this principle is original with me, at least not ultimately. The psychological basis for it has been (in another connection) stated by G. Nickel (1972:13): "... da das zuerst Gelernte offensichtlich meistens und besonders stark haftet". ("... since what is learned first obviously sticks most often and especially strongly".). While the principle of teaching the easier before the more difficult is not impugned, the exceptional ought to be presented earlier than what is unexceptional. For it is clear that what we learn äs isolated items in a l ist has a different psychological Status from what we learn äs regularities: It is relatively easy to learn a l i st of exceptional items and then treat the residue, the "elsewhere" cases, by rule; it is difficult (sometimes never totally achieved) to learn a rule and then try to remember not only what the exceptions are but also that they are exempt from the rule. In the latter case, what one learns interferes with what one has learned;1 in the former case, this i s far from being likely.
Published in: Journal of Literary Semantics, 10.1515/jlse.1985.14.1.56, De Gruyter
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