Volume I - 1993

by Clyde Coreil and Mihri Napoliello

         It is certainly not very encouraging to find a new journal that, on the one hand, claims to be meeting an unmet need, and on the other, admits that it has only a foggy notion of what that need is and how it should be addressed. However, when coupled with a firm conviction and commitment, that very deficiency can become a strong reason for being. Although we set only the broadest of parameters on the mental faculty referred to as "the imagination," we are convinced that it is probably the single most potent and effective force in driving the process of language acquisition.

        What this publication will serve as is a forum for arguments directly or indirectly related to the following hypothesis: Attempts to acquire a language are greatly enhanced when they occur in the presence of an activated imagination. Although we acknowledge bias toward supporting evidence, we welcome the opposite both in search of the truth and as the slate on which we can whet our argument.

        The articles we are looking for will address either of two broad topics. The first includes techniques of teaching language that call on the imagination. Often, these will deal with the arts--including but not limited to painting, drawing, doodling, sculpting, instrumental music, drumming, dancing, singing, humming, fiction, poetry, and drama. We certainly are interested in approaches to comic books, jokes, cartoons, printed advertisements, dramatized commercials, soap operas, greeting cards, slogans, and whatever else you might have a handle on. Each of these forms can be used to stimulate the imagination and create an excellent situation for the internalization of one or more specific elements of language.

        The second type of article will involve more theoretical attempts to relate language learning to the imagination. It is somewhat unlikely that anyone would submit a piece that presents highly technical psycholinguistic or neurolinguistic research related to the imagination. If, however, they should, our parameters are certainly broad enough to accomodate them. We are also quite interested in straightforward reports summarizing this kind of research and/or suggesting implications for the teaching of language. If you have something in mind, do let us hear about it.

Flying Kites

        If you think that any of this might appeal to you or if you find yourself the least bit interested in this first issue, consider it your forum. We invite you to use its pages to write letters about published articles, to answer challenges, to tell us that we'd be better off flying kites. In keeping with this populist thrust, we have tried to keep the price of the Journal within reason. Persons living abroad who have difficulty arranging payment should write to us. At present, we intend to publish one issue per year.

An Annual Conference

        The Journal grew out of the "Conference on the Role of the Imagination in Second Language Acquisition" organized in 1990 and held each spring (usually late April) at New Jersey City University in New Jersey. In addition to a keynote, we have between twelve 90-minute workshops. Past plenary speakers are James J. Asher, developer of TPR; Carolyn Graham, author of Jazz Chants; and Gary Gabriel and Donald R.H. Byrd, well known authors and educators.

        Presentations generally address the same sort of issues as do Journal articles. For example, typical workshops are "ESL through Broadway Musicals," "Creative Movement and Language Learning," and "Drawing in the Teaching of Language." Attendance at the one-day meeting ranges between 300 and 400 teachers of ESL and bilingual education at all levels--Kindergarten through College. Both the Journal and the Conference are made possible by the support of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Multicultural Center, and the ESL Program at the College.


        Six of the articles in this issue are interviews. We find that the heat of conversation often serves to bring ideas together in a fresh, unrehearsed manner that is not possible in formal articles. We would like to call attention to several pointed issues that arose in the interviews. The first is that language teaching that does not call on the imagination often tends to be dull and ineffective. There is probably nothing that can be done in the classroom that does not, in some way, involve the imagination. The important point here seems to concern the extent of that involvement.

        The second issue is that it is far more socially acceptable to appeal to the imagination of younger children than to students in their later teens and older. At these "higher" levels, it seems that we are particularly inclined to let ourselves be wrapped in old constraints and petrified codes of what is and what is not appropriate in classroom.The third, rather closely related issue is the possible bias of school administrators toward pencil-pushing exercises and their distrust of methods that call on the imagination.

        These three issues would seem to constitute an "Interesting Cause" for this Journal--that is, to bring attention to the frequently encountered, shameful neglect of the imagination in our pedagogy and in our schools and colleges. We would appreciate hearing from you on this one.

        Again, welcome aboard.

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