I shouldn’t pick on Steve Kaufmann, linguist extraordinaire, two days in a row, but I’m fascinated with this brand of pop linguistics (and yes, I would not probably go into this in such detail if Mr Kaufmann didn’t set himself up as some sort of linguistic representative). Today we have the following gem:
… So, once again, the key thing in language learning, more than pronunciation, more than grammar, more than critical thinking, more than a course on “academic writing”, is just getting the words and phrases right.
I also feel that people who are not good at reasoning in their own language will not do any better in a new language. A literate person in his/her own language has a big advantage in learning another language.
Literacy only confers an advantage if you’re trying to learn through literacy. I know plenty of people who don’t read or write but who speak multiple languages fluently.
The first paragraph is, of course, nonsensical. It is precisely the pronunciation and grammar that is involved in “getting the phrases right”. Well, to be precise, it’s a combination of this and adequate control of collocations and genre.