Acquiring or learning a language presupposes not only the acquisition of the pronunciation, syntax, vocabulary and the cultural background of the language (surface objectives), but also the development of attitudes, aptitudes and behaviour which foster the acquisition and learning of all language (deep objectives : openness, empathy, the ability to listen and to observe, to discern aurally, vocal flexibility…). People who are considered to be 'gifted language learners' possess these deep abilities, and it is therefore essential to integrate such skills into the acquisition and learning of foreign languages.
It is important to sensitise the learners, right from the beginning, to the prosodic and segmental characteristics of the target language (its rhythm, its melody, its syllabic dynamics, its sounds) with the aid of techniques which develop precise auditory discernment and vocal reproduction. In this way the participants come into resonance with the language, and this in turn becomes more familiar to them and therefore easier to integrate.
From the beginning of the training, language arises from activities which stimulate the participants' desire to express themselves. These activities are based on projective, associative, dramaturgical or situational principles which allow them to express themselves through their perception of reality, or their imagination. These activities make it possible to meet the participants where they are, and to follow them in their need for expression, instead of presenting them with a programme which is alien to them. In this way a unity is created between the speaker and their speech, and this promotes comprehension and retention of, and integration into, the target language.
Specific procedures ('charging up', modulation of the sequence, changing the situational parameters…) allow a recycling, an accrual and an extension of the new material. These activities form an internal coherence with the methodological concept and the aims of the training by following a linking of the exercises which is both flexible and precise. This offers a reassuring framework to the participants and the trainer.
The target language becomes the means of expression, communication and relation between the members of the group, and not simply the object to be learned. The symbolic function of the language is expressed in particular through activities which call on the imagination of the group. The participants acquire knowledge of the language directly, through action and interaction (experiential learning). The language is experienced and acquired, rather than learned in some abstract manner. Knowledge of the language then becomes linked to experience in the language.
Everyone acquires or learns the foreign language according to his individual 'resonance' with the language which develops within the group. In this way a 'pedagogy of individualisation' develops, which differs from a 'pedagogy of uniformity', and which enables each participant to follow their own individual path in their discovery of the language.
In learning, each individual serves as their own point of reference. Instead of the notion of programming and imposing, PDL offers the idea of proposing, in which each participant is co-responsible for their own acquisition and learning. The acquisition and learning of the foreign language are considered as individual processes within the group.
© Bernard Dufeu, 1995
Translation: Paul Cameron