1972. Copenhagen - The Semiotics of MLT: Towards a Semiotic Approach     

to Modern Language Teaching for Adults

by C. George SANDULESCU, Stockholm.

(Paper given at the Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics, The Section of Modern Language Teaching for Adults, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 21 to 26 August 1972. This Abstract was published in the Congress Abstracts.)


1.        The major subdivisions of semiotics -- repeatedly labelled by semiotic research (Sebeok etc) as syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics -- are here interpreted as components of one and the same semiotic model within an integrated theory of signs. Until very recently, linguistics -- in both its theoretical and applied varieties -- concentrated exclusively on semantic and syntactic analysis to the complete neglect of an integrated pragmatic component of a linguistic model of communication ( in which extra-linguistic factors may have the upper hand ).

2.        However, of all the newly emerging interdisciplinary branches, the one coming closest to a postulated and/or hypothetical pragmatic component is -- perhaps paradoxically -- sociolinguistics. Role relatioship, role analysis as well as situation analysis ( particularly within Roman Jakobson's well-known scheme of communication ) may provide the theoretical linguistic and extra-linguistic framework for a systematic (possibly formalized) survey of (language) teacher/(adult)student communication; both feed-forward and feed-back are equally relevant in the teaching process, reducible to multi-level multi-codes (i. e. inter-related and interdependent sign repertoires), linguistic as well as non-linguistic.

3.         Group dynamics, too, could be viewed as functioning at all levels of the major channels of human communication (auditory, visual etc). Such an approach is all the more necessary as it is high time that human communication (cf. Cherry etc) in its most practical aspects, e. g. language teaching/learning, should benefit by feedback from, for instance, zoosemiotic research (where pragmatics occupies a central place), in much the same way as brain research was so unexpectedly stimulated by computer science (cf. Wooldridge).

4.        A research project is now under way in Stockholm for the analysis of teacher/student communication by means of close-circuit television -- with TBV Stockholm (Tjänstemännens  Bildningsverksamhet) providing the equipment, "raw material" and research facilities. The paper gives a detailed account of this particular research project of general interdisciplinary utility: work in progress, results obtained, future prospects. The suggested "pragmatic component" may help bring about coherence as well as order and system among the complex factors entailed by teacher/student communication.