HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 8 no. 1 (1999)

Social Traffic Rules: The Heart of Foreign Language Learning and Teaching

Bruce Bain | Agnes Yu | Agnes Chang

Discipline: Education



The paper seeks to highlight the advantages of bilingualism but cautions the likely problems encountered in foreign language communication and the need for observing the Social Traffic Rules in foreign language learning and teaching. Bilingualism empowers more, restricts less and challenges the mind of its user more fully than does monolingualism. But foreign language teachers and students need to be sensitive to the Social Traffic Rules (STR) of language communication. Social Traffic Rules are implicit rules by which people mediate speaking and listening strategies. They are social values, serving the social function of marking the totems and taboos in dialogues between people from different cultural backgrounds. It is suggested that re-constitutive ethnography is a sound method of collecting and disseminating STR data as ethnographic analysis allows for precise data gathering, and nurtures insights into the more fluid pedagogical requirements. For the purpose of inter-ethnic communication and foreign language learning, re-constitutive ethnography becomes a viable pedagogy.