Theory of Second and Foreign Language Learning: The General Frame of Reference

Theory of Second and Foreign Language Learning: The General Frame of Reference

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2672-9.ch001
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Textbook theory of second language learning being the object under consideration, its coherence with the concepts of theory as a wide-ranging idea and language learning theory is established. Textbook theory is regarded as an indispensable part of language study implementing its fundamental principles. A conceptual hierarchical structure of three-level complexity corresponding to general research theory, theory of second language assimilation, and textbook theory is developed in order to provide congruence between the grades of the ranking model, which presumes the identification of significant uniform characteristics common to each (and any) type of theory. For the entire system to be modeled in holistic terms, there has been advanced a binary conception of theory construction. The binary opposition is a systematically organized functional formation with a large constructive and explanatory potential that allows us to use it for a complete description of the structure of a theory including its idealized object.
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Theory As A Wide-Ranging Idea

In order to understand significant issues, consistent patterns, regularities and peculiarities of the concept theory, it is necessary to go back to first principles and ask what the concept of theory virtually implies. Judging by the rich pageant of descriptions, the general idea of theory holds quite a few meanings commonly used. The term is applied to a comprehensive set of meanings denoting

  • imaginative contemplation of reality or direct intellectual comprehension;

  • a belief, policy or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action;

  • a principle or plan of action;

  • an ideal or hypothesized set of facts, principles and circumstances;

  • the body of generalizations and principles developed in association with practice in a field of activity and forming its content as an intellectual discipline;

  • the coherent set of hypothetical, conceptual and pragmatic principles forming the general frame of reference for a field of inquiry (as for deducing principles, formulating hypothesis for testing, undertaking actions);

  • abstract knowledge: theory necessary in designing something;

  • a field of intellectual inquiry;

  • a systematic analysis, elucidation, or definition of the concept

  • judgment, conception, proposition or formula relating to the nature, action, cause or origin of a phenomenon or a group of phenomenon formed by speculation or deduction, or by abstraction or generalization from facts;

  • a hypothetical entity or structure explaining an observed set of facts. (Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1993, p.2371)

The set of conceptual values produced includes quite a few dissimilar notions like contemplation vs. comprehension or hypothesizing vs. action considered in more detail below.

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