The Journal of Language Teaching and Learning


Political and economic uncertainties dominate the headlines these days. There is the immanent threat of a war in the Middle East and many people, also those who work in traditionally safe sectors of the economy like the banking world or the ict-sector, can no longer be sure of their jobs.
Teachers may not experience this kind of insecurity. Many of us are state-employed and may worry about cuts in educational budgets, but are generally not hit by unemployment.
Uncertainties of a different kind are those concerned with the ever-changing views on language learning and teaching. A now fifty-year-old teacher will have gone through a series of developments, methods or approaches. S/he probably learnt the language at school by grammar translation methods. We all know how important these early individual experiences are, since they have a strong influence on our beliefs about the efficiency of learning and teaching methods. Once this teacher started her/his career, s/he probably taught with textbooks based on the audio-lingual approach. The remnants of this (drills) can still be found in many classrooms. The seventies and eighties were dominated by communicative approaches, whereas the nineties saw a renewed interest in strategies.
Many colleagues have become very sceptical about what they consider changing fashions and question the value of language learning theories for their practice. Few believe that all the research that has taken place has had any significant effect or has improved language learning and teaching. Unfortunately, the gap between those involved in research on language learning and teaching theories and the practitioners in the field seems to have widened in the past few years.
This issue of Babylonia is devoted to theories of language learning and teaching. Its aim is to provide an update on the developments, to present a state-of-the art survey of current thoughts and to make an attempt to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
The editorial team is proud to present articles by a team of distinguished international scholars, who present the main trends in the field in this selection of articles. We have also tried to confront the theories with the views of practising teachers, who have discussed the theories as put forward in the articles. They have looked at them critically and have tried to see the relevance for their practice. As Wolff points out in his article, it is not easy for an individual teacher, working in an educational institution, to implement all the desirable ideas. A concept of learner autonomy is hard to put into practice by an individual teacher, if the school as a whole does not support this idea.
However, though few will be able to change their practice radically, we hope that the theories will shed some light on processes of learning and teaching and may assist teachers, reflective practitioners, as they are encouraged to be, to reconsider their practice.

Editorial Board