Your page description goes in here.

This is a brief alphabetical collection of  main theoretical ideas in language teaching

. Let's take the time span of my teaching - 40 years. I've seen CA PEL CEF come and go and now CLIL come.

*Acquire. CLIL question


Common European Framework,

Portfolio of European languages,

now CLIL (Content Integrated Language Learning) 

Does CLIL really resolve all problems? I don't say "all" sarcastically, for CLIL does claim (if you pardon me personifying it) that like Guinness in the advert, it "reaches parts that other beers don't reach". It has this enormous claim that in a school system that is failing, that it can turn the tide, and motivate and interest,


*Acquire. Let's go back 40 years. WHY did the concept "acquire" take the place of old fashioned "learn"? This is fundamentally important. It will affect all our teaching. It is the siren behind all teaching for 30 years. What promise lay behind the change of terminology? How does it affect your lesson expectations and their materials? Is it once more the key concept behind CLIL?

*Acquire and natural communication versus Grammar-translation. The last 30 years have seen these two quite different teaching approaches uncomfortably co-existing. Text books were made in the format of CA while many teachers went on with frontal grammar teaching etc. (perhaps leavened with listening tapes). But could it be that teachers had been forced back to that because of the superficial results that came from the text books the Communicative Approach?

*Acquire holds the idea that we can transfer the natural mechanisms of L1 mother tongue learning to classroom. That is what the Communicative Approach was based on, CEF and now CLIL depend on acquire and exposure.  In Catalonia and Wales and no doubt Quebec, with a 50 50 regime and surrounding bilingualism YES. The question remains; when is CLIL not CLIL. Marsh and Wolff both said it is not a question primarily of CLIL time, but of CLIL's transforming methodology: ie teaching a subject in the L2, with the various scaffolding techniques. So does this mean that Mario Rinvolucri and Pilgrims' "Humanistic approach" was just another failure? Why was their "content" so inferior to boring "subjects"? French won't make Geography sexy!

*REMEMBER. The big drama of our days, is that children are losing L1 "competence" (ugh, how I loathe that word!! Language use is not mere competence)

*ACQUISITION. "Natural acquisition". The CLIL project seems to admit that Communicative Approach lessons didn't after all carry us to the Promised Land! "Oh it had an artificial content", so CLIL's ambition is to arrive at natural communication by submerging language in real "content" - a "subject". However that seems to be quite at variance with CEF's "descriptors" with their everyday "competences"!!!!!! and besides, ask teenagers how REAL for them are school subjects (!!)  but of course, I'm again forgetting: CLIL will resolve that rejectionism. CLIL makes subjects sexy.

*CEF : (Common European Framework),

If you try and categorise real language use and the real circumstances of its use, as does CEF, in such mountainous detail, then the sheer momentum of such an enterprise will lead inevitably to text books and tests taking a shape in its image. (They must have known/ planned that, -they didn't write it to be ignored, so it was prescriptive!)

        I think CEF is a fatal example of coming to self evident conclusions. The descriptors are categorisations (THOUGH woolly) but so are grammar's divisions, a form of categorisation: (after all grammar is also the stuff of "communication"!). Choosing between "descriptors" and grammar, the latter seems nearer to actual language use and I think, in a choice between the two, I find grammar more useful in ORGANISING THE MATERIAL and above all, more democratic; and empowering, and also (nice paradox) much more likely to activate "acquire" mechanisms with its materials and activities. (On condition that these are practiced in focused speaking format). This is the point. The descriptors may seem self evidently central, where grammar with its bad name isn't, BUT there are other possible "grammars": speaking grammars, and its what you DO with grammar example sentences that matters.

*Brussels' "One shoe fits all".Brussels has bullying single, pan European "solutions". I defend the eclectic approach which is hospitable to new ideas and welcomes anything that works. We must NOT stop experimenting. By the way, teachers have often in the past taught SOMETHING in the foreign language.

*CEF. Is it PHRASE BOOK LEARNING? CAN STUDENTS USE L2 FREELY, CREATIVELY or are we crippled by phrase book learning? "Again I refer to the Amsterdam research on "lower order automisation" as the only basis for any higher "communicative skill. .But I also believe that "lower order automisation" is made easier if there is a parallel conceptual comprehension of the formal logic of the language carried by speaking activities.


*CEF. The Common European Framework has become prescriptive and gets used as a blueprint for a POSSIBLE phrase book form of text book, though itself is not that phrase book! Important point for schools, its implicit curricula is SO boring! It has imprisoned teaching! What I cannot comprehend is how the daily language of the CEF descriptors can be practiced in academic CLIL subjects: it's an utterly different register, and then besides how much SPEAKING TIME is there in CLIL!

*CEF. Well. CEF has propagated itself across Europe, pleasing the bureaucrats with its homogenising of languages which, if you ignore the seemingly unifying "domains", are all quite different in their orders of difficulty, However, we are now condemned to stay within its exam system of A1 A2 etc "competences". So we must try and find a way through.

*CEF REARRANGED.  I have made my curricula scheme in this way, inverting the principal categories. (The term Grammar has most ridiculously terrified experts. Here we can see that grammar areas obviously have their communicative leanings) 


-Or the whole table of 15 pages which I am still working on. Click for download


Grammar island grouped according to communicative potential


What that grammar island makes possible.

Eg."speaking about future, present plans" Asking about present actions = ( present)


"Grammar imbedded" in speaking activities, plays


Vocabulary sets that suit A and B


Descriptors of CEF = what kind of exams

*Alternative to acquire.. Instead, at best we must look at L1 learning and try and invent clever ARTICIAL substitutes for L1 learning, for we need what I might call humble language gymnastics, because at school we cannot just HOPE that the magically natural (=unconscious/ instinctive) language acquisition device" -will fire up in the weird highly artificial, and UNNATURAL situation of school.. In a word, what didactics needs is artificial UNNATURAL language LEARNING. Along with this, pleasure and fun and a sense of dawning mastery are going to be the only motivators.

*Detail. Consider how some procedures in language teaching are short on detailing WHAT and HOW we use the material. This is partly due to the now conventional idea that language can just look after itself and stick "naturally": (ie. be "acquired").The devil is in the detail.

*Eclectic Method": most of what I propose  is a plea for that openness of approach that goes under that method/non method called the Eclectic approach and which is basically an inclusive, common sense, which saves from the past methods, whatever was effective. You could say that this site is the result of my "research" of day by day teaching experience for 40 years and what I have gained from it in the form of beliefs and practice. Experts have begun to allow the term "research" to this humble daily experimenting; and quite rightly, for what is such steady trial and error and slow adjustment ,but a form of the scientific method itself?  Humble because unlike what Kaplan called the "fads and fashions", it pretends to no overambitious final answer.    why my grammar speaking kits. 


*Eclectic method. Let us rescue and rediscover everything that has ever been thought effective in the sorry chronology of false dawns, simplistic revolutions and pendulum swings of language teaching. We should be open to ALL ideas and methods, and judge what seems sensible, and then seek to prove, by experiment in class, if any material/method (they are connected) is effective or not. Furthermore, we can often make suspect methods effective by slightly changing the format.

*Elementary school. Why is it so frequent that "animals" , "colours", "songs" are the core of Elementary school English? Is the language as such, being ignored? Yet we teach them the "abstractions" of Maths.

*Fluency of utterance. Basics of language. That Amsterdam University research team found all communicative skills depend on a prior attainment of "Lower order Automatisation". Without attaining it, no higher communicative skill is possible. What did they mean? Linked to this: how much importance does modern didactics give to "uttering", "memorizing" and "automatisation"?? Fluency?

*FLUENCY. dominate the language forms. know them inside out! A premise of the kits is that normal text books grossly under estimate the degree of practice and repetition (by means of variants however) that learning in a school context requires. I am always struck by how shallow and insecure is the knowledge of the children that come to our summer school after years and years of study. So one 18 year old student in Bolzano wrote in his comment, "I have learnt more with you two in 5 days than in 7 years of school". Even if you take away the exaggeration, it still remains a serious accusation against orthodoxy.


*Kits. Fluency. What I call the apparent paradox is that such grammar kits help speaking fluency because they are so focused and delimited. This is also what makes them ideal for the students who are slower. They are so open to being fashioned into memorizing and repetitious speaking games. All that is needed is imaginative, creative lesson planning. Then one can use "songs", "stories" to thicken the stew, but they are not THE stew!

*Fun involvement. It usually contains some social aspect. Entertaining lessons are not necessarily where "less work" is being done, but where children are also doing what they like best - relating to each other. (A skill by the way that a lot of them are short of) Fun and sociality is motivating because of pleasure. It is also effective because it awakes ATTENTION. Such fun activities are the nearest imitation of the mechanisms of "acquire"!

*FUN not "COMMUNICATION". The question for teachers is this: alright, so you say that the "Communicative Approach" has failed but what do you propose. Take a girl who has spoken everyday to a father in English and a mother in Italian for 12 years (after 5 years she had already 2 languages). The motivation of a child of bilingual parents is natural, instinctive and bound by love, and need.


*FUN REPETITION =?. My kit activities for language in the middle school, are conceived very much in terms of their fun repetition but what I mean by repetition should be better explained. The L1 child has infinite opportunity for repetitive listening and steadily improving expression, and almost every mental language event is preceded or ends in a speaking, while at school?  School is so limited in opportunity for speaking in just 2- 3 hours a week in classes with 25 + pupils, that it beggars belief and common sense that language teaching should ever have let itself be bamboozled into wishful thinking by the term "acquire". The L1 child may acquire through massive exposure, however significantly too, the child is exercising the autonomous motivation ofdesire and need which is hardly the case of enforced school pupils!


*Fun. The social aspect of whole class activities or competition

*Grammar plays that focus on single grammar area. In these grammar plays, the aim is to have every line having at least one exponent (example) of that particular pattern. These plays are fun/social/ lead to laughter and mistakes. They are a great way of focusing the attention of the most distracted of students on a single structure. ALSO, because it is a play/story, it is "communication", and just because imitation communication (the text is fixed), it is certainly no worse than all those communicative texts in typical text books - which by the way are READ - not acted, and rarely humorous.

*GRAMMAR SPOKEN FOCUS.  YOU MUST SPEAK GRAMMAR! Another fundamental that reconnects me to the non delivered promises of communicative approach (though I hope in a more realistic fashion), is the commitment to SPEAKING. However in my case I want this speaking to not be the impossible to attain imitation of the L1 child but a super artificial focus on form in order to attain to "lower order automatisation". Thus you can understand why there are so many variant kit- pages dedicated to each main grammar island.


*GRAMMAR, WHEN RIGHTLY SEEN, IS JUSTTHE EMBRIO OF ALL COMMUNICATION! There has been an absurd Manichean separation of grammar and communication and pupils have paid the price.


*Grammar. "Why", said the Dodo, the best way to explain it is to do it"(Alice in Wonderland. Likewise Grammar is best "explained" by speaking lots of it

*Grammar. Horror! What was implied when the language company "A Zeta B" with a contract with the Sovrintendenza in Bolzano, responded to one of my lessons by saying "We don't do pronouns"!!    (I obviously asked, "so what do you do"??. ("We do "animals" and "colours"???). Why do older students frequently reply to "How many years study of English" with "The years at Elementary don't count", because of "animals, colours and songs"?!

*Grammar. I am not rejecting any interesting new classroom procedures, nor going back to "grammar/translation method", but I am saying that none of those new procedures will be harmed, but rather be made more effective, if they contain a backbone of delimited grammar USE, unburdened by abstract rules. I think that that the non grammar "humanistic" additions to language teaching and these "grammar kits" can be mutually supporting. But hopes of acquisition are an illusion without a time span school can't give..

*Grammar. My micro grammar kits are a basic raw material. They are to be re-angled like a kaleidoscope that though varying the activities, is still the same forms: a disguised repetition. In school language learning, we need to invent myriad fun-forms of REPETITION. In these kits no abstract grammar rule is necessary. What we are aiming at is what I have called an indirect and artificial way to mimic SOME of the mechanisms of "natural acquisition", but NOT by BORING, pseudo reproductions of "real life situations". ("I can ask my way in a foreign city/ I can order a meal/ I can talk about my daily routines", all of which by the way, end up in the short cut of learning by heart some fixed phrases to satisfy exams on the "descriptors" of Porfoilio's A1, A2, B1 etc). "I get up at 7.00. I have breakfast and then take the bus to school". Excellent?

*Grammar-translation" method. Can the teacher organize material via a grammatical framework and reference (+ other elements) and yet still create lessons that are fun because creative of social relationship within the classroom group? Grammar within language is simply its regularity and coherence without which no meaning could be communicated. As a metalanguage, something we use to describe language operations, it is a form of mnemonic. So grammar's divisions helps us to package the lesson content in such a way as to help intuitive recognition of regularity in language (ie. Learning pattern without using abstract rules) To recognize regularity and formal consistency is the necessary first stage to any autonomous manipulation of a language.

*GRAPHIC VARIETY. As part of out intention to join repetition with variety, the kits have been allowed to take a different graphic look and to not be designed into false conformity. This is part of our larger intention to give teachers a "modular" kits. Modular is a much misused term. It derives from architecture where the same constructed sections of buildings can be used in different projects or variously in the same building. I mean that the kit pages can be used as self sufficient bolt on material.


*History. Look at Decoo's History of methods and use whatever was once in common use in the past. If it was once considered effective, then it must still be so!

*KITS   In classes of 24-30 we need discrete kits that present all that is included in my 5 column scheme and which can be used by groups of 2, 4, "choir" groups or whole class. These kits are conceived so that the groups do not need the teacher's help to carry out the activity/ game. (the answers or correct form is integral to the kit). There can also be an infinity of such activating kits, each with a limitless form of game or activity.

At this point I must refer you to all our anonymous pupils' comments section, since they seem to me such an eloquent vindication of this approach which addresses the central problem of language learning COMPREHENSION of the logic/pattern of a language, and PRACTICE in uttering and then autonomously recreating it. Within this vision, you can understand why I have created so many "grammar plays". (see section). Since pupils have to learn the parts by heart, the exaggeratedly highlighted grammar structures are NOTICED and focused on, and are expressed within a real context within the plays. I have also found that such example of grammar focus can be the starting point for pairs to do creative writing around situations (which we have brain stormed) that suit that particular grammar area.

All this is just common sense and part of that modest approach: "The Eclectic method".

*Kits and plays are raw material for repetition games

*Kits and plays material for running /movement games/mental gymnastics "fluency"

*Kits as focused delimited material for activities. Encourage revision, repetition.

*Kits. Self study in groups. See Gallery of materials.

*Kits. Through our grammar kits we want to activate a half conscious awareness of PATTERN: (surely that is what natural "acquisition" does - EVENTUALLY) ! We want the "penny to drop", but we are in a hurry (having so very little time in each week -besides all that hubbub of the classrooms!). The school environment doesn't need rules; but it does need massive focus. We CANNOT fool ourselves into believing that most class rooms can be LIKE those of full immersion in Wales or Catalonia's 50 50 languages exposure (AND its use in the real surrounding social bilingualism!)

*Kits/Boxes" for sessions" of pair and 4 games/activities. Ready made. "Stations"

*L1. How much does a failing "competence" with their own language (L1) impede access to another?  Has modern family life patterns (hours of TV and computers and play stations), put in question the once self evident discipline of school studies, and made them seem irrelevant, contrary to the habit of mind of the young?? Do schools have the confidence and coherent direction to refuse to give in to that world?

*Learning by heart -much much more should be done than is common. Use phrases and poems/nursery rhymes.

*LEARNING BY HEART CHUNKS AND PLAYS. I believe learning by heart can be useful, if it's of grammar focused sentences within "grammar plays", grammar focused fun activities and completion games using grammar stems that require endless recycling and simple UTTERANCE by the mouth, tongue, jaw: in fact - "LOWER ORDERAUTOMATISATION". 40 years of my "classroom research" leads me to be relieved to read of this research at Amsterdam. I feel mostly very lonely!! So much expert opinion (not at University level, but at political, bureaucratic level) absolutely refuses to admit there is a problem.


*Learning Latin or Maths The classic justification was they were "Mind training". If that was mistaken, how could they continue with such an idea for centuries! Is there a similar intellectual aspect to school language learning that has been ignored?

*Lesson planning. We say in English "The devil is in the detail"!! So how many seconds (!!) does your plan allow for each to SPEAK? 

*Lessons. How many seconds (!!)in each lesson, do my pupils speak"? Is it focused/memorable? My critique of the "acquire" nostrum is that it leads to such lack of focus and poor memorizing. After all, memory is the bottom line: central.

*Mechanisms of real classroom learning If the teaching situation is miles from that of natural "acquisition", what are the classroom mechanisms of learning to be?! How should they condition our teaching?

*Memorise. We have to remember that it´s very easy to forget!! We must remember the Amsterdam research finding that "Lower order automatisation" is the essential ground for any later "communication" ability. I call it verbal gymnastics. The above activity is an example of much that we will do with this age group. We want them to do language lifting!!

*Memorising. What degree of retention, (MEMORISING!!) is it that we are expecting from our pupils at the end of each lesson? Are we just hoping for generalized, "natural", unconscious "acquisition", that is slowly cumulative; something that occurs eventually!! (we HOPE"!) QUESTION. In the acquire philosophy, how do we check the rate and memorability of our lessons, or do we just wait for the gentle acquisition process to sediment?

*Memorising. What degree of retention, (MEMORISING!!) is it that we are expecting from our pupils at the end of each lesson? Are we just hoping for generalized, "natural", unconscious "acquisition", that is slowly cumulative; something that occurs eventually!! (we HOPE"!) QUESTION. In the acquire philosophy, how do we check the rate and memorability of our lessons, or do we just wait for the gentle acquisition process to sediment? EURIKA!

*Method shouldn't be an abstract thing. It is nothing until it is clothed in detail. It often then becomes a rag bag of various methods! It is often better to just think of an activity (in all its detail) and create the suitable materials, and then truly judge how much use it was to your pupils. Thus "materials" is where the bla-bla stops and teaching begins! Materials are methods in action. Having a method really means no more than knowing (through successful experience) what you want to do and your reason/intention for doing it.

*Method. Acquire. I think the paradigm" of "acquire" has failed us. I have seen no signs of acquisition having occurred. In fact my reaction is frequently of marveling: "how could so little be learnt in so long a time".. The trouble with such a technical term as "acquire", or jargon in general, is that it can be tendentious. That is to say, a word can assert what has not been proved: but the word by repeated use presumes a whole methodology: it becomes, precisely, a conventional wisdom that no one dare question for fear of losing job or influence. This is also valid for the mighty letters CLIL.

*Methods and fashion.

*Methods is: "One could even define a method as follows  A language teaching method is an approach that neglects at least one important component." (!!) That deficiency is its Achilles heel, which will ultimately cause its death because criticism concentrates on that one (or more) neglected aspect". "I define a method as a teaching-learning model that emphasizes at least one core concept as the key solution to successful language learning. That core concept is mentioned in the name of the method—natural, direct, reading, communicative, audio-oral, lexical, total physical response, etc. At the same time, each method retains many other features common to nearly all methods. The name makes a method distinctive but often also causes its decline". (through one-sided exaggeration?). Wilfried Decoo

*Methods. "The ignorance about the past. Of all disciplines, language learning is one that is the most ignorant of its own past. Theories and techniques are presented as new, while in truth they had already been invented decades before, had blossomed and then died"

*Methods. "When one looks at a present-day so-called communicative textbook, one basically finds the same elements as in textbooks of the Renaissance, or any other past century"

*Methods. The destructiveness of "new methods", because much of what used to be done "in the old days" and which had all sorts of effectiveness was thrown out. (Drills, Translation, Grammar, Dictation (which has dozens of interesting variants), Explicit practice etc But illusions eventually find that Reality is a hard master and a few hours a week in a noisy class is miles away from mother -child. Believe me; I've seen the results!

*Mixed classes. This in my view is one of the pussy sores of Italian education. Mixing quick and slow, motivated and unmotivated may SEEM non elitist and socially fair, but it neither is fair to the quick nor to the slow. The slow still don't get enough of what and HOW they need and the quick get so bored they cecome stupid" and badly behaved. It's familiar '68!! So whatever the class, but especially in Italy, "how do I physically organize the sub groups. Mixed? Like with like? Quick with slow?

*MODULAR" PAGES. The individual pages are as I said "modular" and can be used separately when needed, but you will see that we have grouped the pages in mutually supporting groups - in what I call "grammar islands" - ie. The whole grammar area with its communicative core that allows us to describe the world and experience. Who should be afraid of "grammar"!


*Natural learning. Apparent Paradox. I personally think that conventional wisdom in language teaching is the prisoner of a concept, or as they call it in science, a "paradigm": a conditioning theory. As teachers we all look enviously at the mother child and the way the child learns its language so easily, quickly, and seemingly without difficulty, and above all so willingly! We say this is "natural" learning. Can we capture that in schools? When? How?

*Numbers in class and speaking time. What was the idea behind "natural acquisition"? It was thought that you could import L1 learning mechanisms into class and thus that a speaking ability would occur, where the previous "grammar translation" methods were stuck in an "academic" abstract bind.

In the end class learning is constrained by numbers. The "natural acquisition" promise derived from the one-to-one mother and child, their LOVE  and their endless progression of difficulty and repetition. A class is made of at least 24-to-1,

*Plays (grammarised). Invent simple, repetitive one structure only plays.(at least one example each line - see my 80 such plays in the Grammar book and 400 speaking exercises). 

*Plays. They could make notes which they use to act the play in a semi extempore way without actually learning the part by heart. This form of quick performance is good practice as they are having to still think the language and not simply reciting it. Both techniques however have their justification.

*REPETITION. A SPECIAL FORM OF IT. We believe that this visualised presentation of the language fact should move immediately into speaking activities which are meant to focus and highlight a rather unnaturalistic  repetition of the basic grammar form. The simplification and visualisation of the "grammar island" in a variety of guises of spoken activity means that what in other books is just a single grammar page, is here repetitively presented in different versions as "kit" page. Also see grammar plays.


*School reality. An irony. "Acquisition, CA. PEL CLIL etc are official but often classes continue as 50 years ago, BECAUSE the official credo doesn't work and teachers are left to save the saveable, in whatever manner they can.

*Songs". How much do they leave behind language that the children can actively recycle? (so again are we depending on long term sedimentation"?? "slow familiarity with sounds"? "Piecing it out intuitively") in fact is there once more a dependence on the BELIEF (OR ESTABLISHED FACT?) of "acquire naturally"? Or should we think of songs as simply motivating moments that add to that background familiarizing?

*Systemization of content is pointless if language learning is considered to be a purely natural process".!!! (Again the CLIL PROBLEM!! )

*Teacher's personality, style. The particular personalities and strengths of teachers AND of a particular class of children, (and their age and behaviour) are all important ingredients of classroom lessons. They can make a method a success or a failure.

*Text books..MUCH LESS text book! Much more speaking. Much more carried-in-the-head activities (using grammar chunked wholes; maybe using text book material) followed by semi creative recreation and then finally autonomous speaking using THAT raw material. Text books - (that supposedly are there to help teaching!!), often by one of those banana skin paradoxes, kill teaching and creative fun in the classroom. They also turn teachers into zombies and the send pupils to sleep ...or worse! 

*THE DEAD HAND OF NATURALISTIC MATERIALS. Talking of motivation, what could be more deathly than getting a class enthused over "daily routines"!? The boredom that looms behindCEF is another matter. Likewise Portfolio's aim of stimulating "responsibility for the students own learning and sense of his "can do" is in the context of enforced (often boring) state schooling just another unpleasant adult hypocrisy.)


*THE VISUALISATION OF GRAMMAR. I used the word "contour" because these pages show what is important in the clearly visualised grammar fact rather than in an explanation that often is far too abstract for media pupils (or any other pupils for that matter!!) - what matters is the main contour and outline. In the case of the "2 pasts", we have just 1 page of diagrams and examples + lots of other supporting material. Our motto: Keep it simple and demonstrate and use immediately! The downloads are aids to making a deeper furrow of knowledge/ familiarity


*Time. Calculate; "how many minutes each lesson, do my pupils speak"? Is it focused/memorable? My critique of the "acquire" nostrum is that it leads to such lack of focus and poor memorizing. After all, memory is the bottom line: central.

*UNDERSTANDING THE CODE/logic of the language HELPS MEMORISATION = SIMPLE GRAMMAR + REPETITIVE SPEAKING (both given pattern and semi free). What matters is a combination of understanding of how the language fits together (the "meccano" aspect) + a much deeper cut furrow of speaking familiarity and HABIT.(after all is not THAT the way of "acquisition"!!


*Verify now. Have I clearly understood how my minute by minute teaching would be affected by the "descriptors" of the European Portfolio (and CEF) or the emphasis on content (rather than language) in CLIL. Have I clearly and consciously adopted a teaching philosophy, or has one adopted me, and I'm just hoping for the best?

*Wilfried Decoo. I am in complete agreement with this research finding. From a paper "On the mortality of language learning methods" given as the James L. Barker lecture on November 8th2001 at Brigham Young University, by Wilfried Decoo.)

……."Some post-communicative methods like to oppose "lower-order thinking", which they equate to rote memorization, to "higher-order" skills. The former are to be avoided, the latter are the core objective. Recent experimental research by Hulstijn and his team at the Kohnstamm Institute (University ofAmsterdam) indicates that higher-order skills cannot function properly in the foreign language without well developed levels of Lower-Order Automatization (Hulstijn 1999).