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Language Learning

285). To put it in current context, the "cure" of bilingual education may not resolve the problems associated with the disease of the cultural authority exercised by a system that disadvantages students whose first language is not English.

According to Nunes, "Symbolic systems do not merely express the reasoning we carry out in some other fashion; they are an essential part of the reasoning process" (1995, p. 95). Symbolic systems, including language, are culturally derived; Nunes's focus is on mathematical problem-solving abilities in classroom and "street" contexts, including observation that some who perform badly in the classroom perform competently on the street. This appears to suggest that symbolic systems are an attribute of cultural norms, which determine how concepts are formulated. But Nunes says elsewhere that symbolic tools that people use "must not be confounded with the powers and limits of the users themselves" (p. 98). This appears to suggest that symbolic systems (whether arithmetic competence or language use) are an attribute of rational capacity. It is in that context that Chomsky's discussion of language acquisition by children takes on meaning. His view is that children can (even though they do not always) discover good linguistic form without ever having learned grammatical rules in a formal way. Language itself develops from impulse toward making a formal expression that was already resident in the child. The rational/cognitive component is d


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