By Alexa Rojas Ulloa - English Teaching and Translation Major student

As the author Khan (2011) states in his book, “(…) the English teacher is supposed to know (…) applied English linguistics to prove himself as an effective English language teacher” (p. 2). Linguistics is the study of languages, and the role of applied linguistics has increased in importance in the past decades. It became a used discipline for teachers, researchers, and pedagogues to analyze the teaching methods. The old methods and approaches are no longer useful if the goal is to provide students with great language teaching. Applied linguistics is now essential in the practices of English teaching because it supports the teacher in the study of second language acquisition, conduction of error analysis, and making learning easier to get and understand for learners.

In the pedagogical part, the study of second language acquisition studies how the development of language-teaching methodologies can help understand when language learning takes place and when it doesn’t. (Gass & Selinker, 2008, p. 20). Traditional methodologies based their teaching on memorizing vocabulary and repetition until learners can produce a sentence. That is not the appropriate approach described for applied linguistics, which supports its method of studying the characteristics of a language to take the results and apply them to different areas, teaching in this case (Khan, 2011, p. 2). Second language acquisition studies how learners create a new language when there is limited exposure to it, and applied linguistics assist the teachers to understand how and when learning takes place.
In applied linguistics, the production and development of the learner in the language is also due to errors which are analyzed to determine the different areas that students need reinforcement. Error analysis focuses on the errors committed by the student, and the authors Gass & Selinker (2008) define them as red flags that open a window into the student's knowledge. The analysis, based on Gass & Selinker's (2008) studies, consists of collecting the data, identify the errors in order to classify them, quantify them, make an analysis, and remediate the error with a pedagogical intervention. There is no need to view error as a problem for the learning process, instead of as a way to evidence the students are making attempts into producing language by figuring out the structure of it. Thanks to their efforts, the teacher can produce an error analysis to help them understand the language.

Understand the language to make it easier to learn for students is one of the reasons to implement applied linguistics in teaching practice. With it, language can be seen as a structure of discourse and not just a horizontal process (Ossa, 2012). When it comes to learning a language, there are aspects to take into consideration, like the structures that are easier to comprehend because they are similar to the first language of the students, which causes a better understanding in the learning process. The traditional methods are not something teachers need to discard or reject when teaching, but must learn from them to pursue a better view in language development to have more beneficial outcomes. Those methods must be improved because times are changing, and learners need more than repetition without critical thinking and accurate language development.

Applied linguistics provides the teachers with studies about how students acquire a second language, which helps them convey what its being learned from it to the teaching practice. There are many more aspects to take into consideration while teaching a second language, and applied linguistics helps to have a better perception of what those processes involve. It also helps to improve the pedagogic responsibilities in order to have better outcomes in the learning process. Diagnose errors, make learning easier to understand and achieve second language acquisition are the main goals in applied linguistics. In order to minimize the difficulty of second language acquisition, applied linguistics provide teachers with a clear view on how to address learning problems, and accomplish a great language level.


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  • Gass, M. S. & Selinker, L. (2008). Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course. (3rd ed.). Taylor & Francis.
  • Khan, I. (2011). Role of Applied Linguistics in the Teaching of English in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of English Linguistics. 1. 10.5539/ijel.v1n1p105.
  • Ossa, M.P. (2012) What is the role of educational applied linguistics in language teaching? its-362932