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Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xx
Conceptualizing and Problematizing Boundaries in Language Education (Achilleas Kostoulas)....Pages 1-11
Front Matter ....Pages 13-13
A Journey Through the Landscapes of Language Education (Janez Skela)....Pages 15-32
Repositioning Language Education Theory (Achilleas Kostoulas)....Pages 33-50
An Ecological Perspective for Critical Action in Applied Linguistics (Juup Stelma, Richard Fay)....Pages 51-69
Space and Time for Understanding(s): The Recursive Cycle of Language Education and Classroom Enquiry (Anna Costantino)....Pages 71-86
Front Matter ....Pages 87-87
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities Through CLIL: An E-learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers (Katerina Vourdanou)....Pages 89-106
Beyond the Garrison: Global Education and Teaching (Canadian) Literature in the EFL Classroom (Jürgen Wehrmann)....Pages 107-120
Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary Engineering Students (Dietmar Tatzl)....Pages 121-139
Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning with Intercomprehension (Claudia Mewald)....Pages 141-161
Front Matter ....Pages 163-163
Thinking Outside the Box: The Impact of Globalization on English Language Teachers in Austria (Alia Moser, Petra Kletzenbauer)....Pages 165-181
Third-Age University Teachers in Language Education: Navigating the Boundaries of Work-Life Balance and Retirement (Sonja Babić, Kyle Talbot)....Pages 183-198
Study Abroad: L2 Self-efficacy and Engagement in Intercultural Interactions (Gianna Hessel)....Pages 199-210
Schools as Linguistic Space: Multilingual Realities at Schools in Vienna and Brno (Lena Schwarzl, Eva Vetter, Miroslav Janík)....Pages 211-228
Beyond Conventional Borders of Second Language Teachers’ Education: A Digital, Interdisciplinary, and Critical Postgraduate Curriculum (Roula Kitsiou, Maria Papadopoulou, George Androulakis, Roula Tsokalidou, Eleni Skourtou)....Pages 229-245
Boundaries Crossed, and New Frontiers: Ongoing Theoretical, Empirical, and Pedagogical Issues in Language Education (Achilleas Kostoulas)....Pages 247-255
Back Matter ....Pages 257-260
Second Language Learning and Teaching
Achilleas Kostoulas Editor
Challenging Boundaries in Language Education
Second Language Learning and Teaching Series Editor Mirosław Pawlak, Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts, Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz, Poland
The series brings together volumes dealing with different aspects of learning and teaching second and foreign languages. The titles included are both monographs and edited collections focusing on a variety of topics ranging from the processes underlying second language acquisition, through various aspects of language learning in instructed and non-instructed settings, to different facets of the teaching process, including syllabus choice, materials design, classroom practices and evaluation. The publications reflect state-of-the-art developments in those areas, they adopt a wide range of theoretical perspectives and follow diverse research paradigms. The intended audience are all those who are interested in naturalistic and classroom second language acquisition, including researchers, methodologists, curriculum and materials designers, teachers and undergraduate and graduate students undertaking empirical investigations of how second languages are learnt and taught.
More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/10129
Achilleas Kostoulas Editor
Challenging Boundaries in Language Education
Editor Achilleas Kostoulas The University of Manchester Manchester, UK
ISSN 2193-7648 ISSN 2193-7656 (electronic) Second Language Learning and Teaching ISBN 978-3-030-17056-1 ISBN 978-3-030-17057-8 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8 Library of Congress Control Number: 2019936295 © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, speciﬁcally the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microﬁlms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a speciﬁc statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional afﬁliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland
To David, Nicole and Thomas
Conceptualizing and Problematizing Boundaries in Language Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Achilleas Kostoulas Part I
Rethinking Language Education Theory
A Journey Through the Landscapes of Language Education . . . . . . . . . Janez Skela
Repositioning Language Education Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Achilleas Kostoulas
An Ecological Perspective for Critical Action in Applied Linguistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Juup Stelma and Richard Fay
Space and Time for Understanding(s): The Recursive Cycle of Language Education and Classroom Enquiry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anna Costantino
Reshaping Language Education Practice
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities Through CLIL: An E-learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Katerina Vourdanou
Beyond the Garrison: Global Education and Teaching (Canadian) Literature in the EFL Classroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Jürgen Wehrmann Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary Engineering Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Dietmar Tatzl
Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning with Intercomprehension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Claudia Mewald Part III
Redeﬁning Language Teachers and Learners
Thinking Outside the Box: The Impact of Globalization on English Language Teachers in Austria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Alia Moser and Petra Kletzenbauer Third-Age University Teachers in Language Education: Navigating the Boundaries of Work-Life Balance and Retirement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 Sonja Babić and Kyle Talbot Study Abroad: L2 Self-efﬁcacy and Engagement in Intercultural Interactions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 Gianna Hessel Schools as Linguistic Space: Multilingual Realities at Schools in Vienna and Brno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211 Lena Schwarzl, Eva Vetter and Miroslav Janík Beyond Conventional Borders of Second Language Teachers’ Education: A Digital, Interdisciplinary, and Critical Postgraduate Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 Roula Kitsiou, Maria Papadopoulou, George Androulakis, Roula Tsokalidou and Eleni Skourtou Boundaries Crossed, and New Frontiers: Ongoing Theoretical, Empirical, and Pedagogical Issues in Language Education . . . . . . . . . . 247 Achilleas Kostoulas Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
Editor and Contributors
About the Editor Achilleas Kostoulas is Visiting Scholar at the University of Manchester (UK), having held previous academic appointments at the University of Graz (Austria) and the Epirus Institute of Technology (Greece). His research encompasses language teaching and learning and language teacher education, often examined holistically through a complex systems theory perspective. He is the author of A Language School as a Complex System (2018, Peter Lang), and the co-editor, with Sarah Mercer, of Language Teacher Psychology (2018, Multilingual Matters). email: [email protected]
Contributors George Androulakis is Professor of Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching and Director of the Greek Language and Multilingualism Laboratory at the University of Thessaly (Greece). From 2016 to 2018, he was Vice President for Academic and International Affairs of the Hellenic Open University (Greece). His research focuses on language use in migrant communities, language policy, language teaching, and inclusive and distance education. e-mail: [email protected] Sonja Babić is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Graz (Austria) and is looking into positive psychological resources that support third-age language teachers’ and teacher educators’ professional well-being. She also works as a research assistant on “The Psychological Capital of Foreign Language Teachers” project at the University of Graz and is a certiﬁed TESOL Teacher. Her research interests lie in psychology of language learning and teaching, teacher well-being, gerontology, and psychogerontology. e-mail: [email protected] Anna Costantino is Lecturer in Italian language and Italian Program Co-ordinator at the University of Greenwich (UK). There, she also leads the module in Materials
Editor and Contributors
Development and Language Testing within the MA in TESOL. As a practitionerresearcher, she has been involved for some time in Exploratory Practice. She is Member of the Centre for Research and Enterprise in Language at the University of Greenwich, and Member of the AILA Research Networks Fully Inclusive Practitioner Research in Applied Linguistics. e-mail: [email protected] Richard Fay is Senior Lecturer in Education (TESOL and Intercultural Communication) in the Manchester Institute of Education of The University of Manchester (UK), where he is Co-ordinator of the Applied Linguistics (TESOL and Intercultural Communication) doctoral community. His recent research activities and publications focus variously on researcher education (with a particular focus on researching multilingually, the languaging of research, and epistemic injustice), language education (and English as a lingua franca), and intercultural communication. e-mail: [email protected] Gianna Hessel (M.Sc., Ph.D.) completed her postgraduate and doctoral degrees in applied linguistics and second language acquisition in the Department of Education, University of Oxford (UK). She is now FWF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of English Studies at the University of Graz (Austria), where she conducts research on the post-return phase of study abroad. e-mail: gianna. [email protected] Miroslav Janík works as Postdoc in the Department for German Language and Literature and in the Institute for Research in School Education, Faculty of Education, Masaryk University, Brno (Czech Republic). He received his Ph.D. at the same faculty, focusing on multilingualism in teaching German as the second foreign language. Recently, he has been researching different aspects of foreign language teacher training (primarily in the context of exploring teachers’ professional vision) and various forms of multilingualism in schools. e-mail: [email protected] Roula Kitsiou is Doctor of Sociolinguistics and currently Tutor for the “Critical Pedagogy” module of the postgraduate program “Language Education for Refugees and Migrants” at the Hellenic Open University (Greece). Her research interests include sociolinguistics of writing, second language education, qualitative and critical research methodologies, and development of conventional or digital educational materials. e-mail: [email protected] Petra Kletzenbauer is Lecturer for ESAP/ESP at the University of Applied Sciences in Austria. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in applied linguistics. Her research interest includes content and language integrated learning in higher education. She is also a teacher trainer and runs workshops on educational methods. e-mail: [email protected] Claudia Mewald teaches foreign language teaching methodology, young adult literature, and applied linguistics at the University College of Teacher Education in Baden, Lower Austria. Before, she taught English, history, and arts at primary, special needs, and secondary schools. Her research interests are testing and
Editor and Contributors
assessment, learner autonomy, content and language integrated learning (CLIL), competency-based language education, and multilingualism. She is Council Member of WALS, the World Association of Lesson Studies, and implements lesson study in teacher education on a regular basis. e-mail: [email protected] Alia Moser teaches English, German, history, and business behavior at a secondary business school in Lower Austria. She has recently ﬁnished her Ph.D. at the University of Graz (Austria). Her research interests include student engagement, written corrective feedback, and content and language integrated learning in secondary education. e-mail: [email protected] Maria Papadopoulou is Professor of Language and Literacies at the School of Early Childhood Education at the University of Thessaly (Greece). She is also Head of the Language and Culture Laboratory. Her research interests focus on emergent literacy, multiliteracies, multimodality in the early years, language learning and teaching, and curriculum design. e-mail: [email protected] Lena Schwarzl is Predoc Research Assistant in the Language Teaching and Learning Unit at the Center for Teacher Education at the University of Vienna (Austria). Her research interests focus on multilingualism in the context of schooling, language teaching and learning, translanguaging pedagogy, and self-related aspects of motivation. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in romance studies and a Teaching degree in Italian language, psychology, and philosophy at the University of Vienna. Since the completion of her studies, she started teaching at schools in Lower Austria, at the University of Vienna, and recently also at the Center for Teacher Training in Lower Austria. e-mail: [email protected] Janez Skela is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). He earned his BA in German and English, and his MA and Ph.D. in second language learning and teaching. He has a 25-year background in pre- and in-service teacher training. At the University of Ljubljana, he teaches courses in language teaching methodology, second language acquisition, language testing, second language research methods, ELT materials evaluation, and curriculum design. His special interests are ELT materials, teacher cognition and beliefs, teacher education and development, young learners, learner autonomy, and content and language integrated learning. In addition to numerous scholarly articles and chapters, he is the (co)author of two primary-school EFL coursebook series. He has coordinated several projects (e.g., the European Language Portfolio, multiliteracy, and the FREPA pluralistic approaches to languages and cultures). e-mail: [email protected] Eleni Skourtou is Professor of Language Diversity in the Department of Primary Education, University of the Aegean (Greece), where she is also Head of the Linguistics Laboratory. Her research interests focus on language diversity, bilingualism and learning, literacy, multiliteracies, meaning making, education of Roma children, and education of refugee children and adults. e-mail: [email protected]
Editor and Contributors
Juup Stelma is Director of Teaching and Learning Operations of the Manchester Institute of Education at The University of Manchester (UK). His teaching focuses on the psychology of language learning, the ecology of language use, and researcher education. His research and publications seek to develop dynamical and ecological understandings of applied linguistics and language education, and in particular what may be the analytical affordances of the concept of intentionality. e-mail: juup. [email protected] Kyle Talbot taught English as a Second Language at the University of Iowa (USA) before enrolling as a Ph.D. student at the University of Graz (Austria). He holds an MA in TESOL/applied linguistics from the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, IA. Currently, he is working as a research assistant and pursuing his Ph. D. in Graz. His research and teaching interests include the psychology of language teaching and learning, language teacher well-being, teacher stress and burnout, and emotions in second language teaching and learning. e-mail: [email protected] Dietmar Tatzl is Faculty Member of the Institute of Aviation at the Joanneum University of Applied Sciences (Austria), where he has taught English language courses to aeronautical engineering students for 16 years. He received his doctorate in English studies from the University of Graz (Austria). His research interests include English for speciﬁc purposes, English for academic purposes, and engineering education. e-mail: [email protected] Roula Tsokalidou is Professor of Sociolinguistics at the School of Early Childhood Education at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and Co-ordinator of Polydromo Group for bilingualism and multiculturalism in education and society. Her publications and research interests lie mainly in the area of language contact, bilingualism, immigrant languages, translanguaging, and education. e-mail: [email protected] Eva Vetter is Professor of Language Teaching and Learning Research at the University of Vienna (since 2011). Her research interests focus on multilingualism with respect to linguistic minorities, historical multilingualism, language policy, and language teaching and learning. Since 2010, she has been focusing more on educational aspects of multilingualism, i.e., language education policy and multilingual approaches. Her research and teaching at the university is based on intense cooperation with schools and other contexts for learning and using language. e-mail: eva. [email protected] Katerina Vourdanou has been English Teacher in Greece since 1998. She acquired an M.Ed. (TESOL) from the Hellenic Open University (Greece) in 2014. Her teaching and research interests in CLIL led to a publication in Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning in 2017. Her ongoing Ph.D. research in the Hellenic Open University focuses on the integration of ELF-aware pedagogy in state EFL education in Greece through the use of differentiated instruction. e-mail: [email protected]
Editor and Contributors
Jürgen Wehrmann teaches English and philosophy at Graf Anton Günther School Oldenburg (Germany). He has published on Irish literature, science ﬁction, and English language teaching and has worked as Lecturer of English Literature and ELT at the Universities of Tübingen, Mainz, and Oldenburg (all Germany). e-mail: [email protected]
AILA AL BCa CLIL CLT DCDT EAP EFL ELF ELT EMI EP ERASMUS ESAP ESP FREPA FRINCOM ftf FWF GPA HOU ICT IFLC KOW L1 L2 LRM M
Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (International Applied Linguistics Association) Applied Linguistics Bias-Corrected and accelerated Content and Language Integrated Learning Communicative Language Teaching Digital Course Development Team English for Academic Purposes English as a Foreign Language English as a Lingua Franca English Language Teaching English Medium Instruction Exploratory Practice European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students English for Speciﬁc Academic Purposes English for Speciﬁc Purposes Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches Framework for Intercomprehension Methodology Face to Face Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (Austrian Science Fund) Grade Point Average Hellenic Open University Information and Communication Technology Integrated Foreign Languages Curriculum Knowledge of the World First (mother) language Additional language Language Education for Refugees and Migrants Mean
Mdn MFL ODL OPEC PEPA PLU RQ SD SLA SLTE SPSS TALT TATE TESOL UNHCR WEIRD WLB
Median Modern Foreign Language Open and Distance Learning Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Potentially Exploitable Pedagogic Activity Parallel Language Use Research Question Standard Deviation Second Language Acquisition Second Language Teacher Education Statistics Package for Social Sciences Third-Age Language Teacher Third-Age Teacher Educator Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees White, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic Work–Life Balance
List of Figures
A Journey Through the Landscapes of Language Education Fig. 1
Overall features of the landscape of language teaching and teacher education (illustration by Igor Rehar) . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Repositioning Language Education Theory Fig. 1
Components of language education theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities Through CLIL: An E-learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig.
1 2 3 4
Fig. 5 Fig. 6
Activity theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Activity theory and CLIL teacher education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The identity of CLIL teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Responses to the question: Do you supplement your courseware with material you create on your own? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Responses to the question: Have you participated in pre-service CLIL teacher training programs? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Responses to the question: In your teaching context, how does cooperation between EFL and content subject teachers take place? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
95 95 96 100 101
Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning with Intercomprehension Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig.
1 2 3 4
Framework for intercomprehension methodology . . . . . . . . . . Content areas and distribution of texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nathan about music (video transcript) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LearningApp: Las partes de la casa [The parts of the house] (from http://learningapps.org/display?v=p7tnytr0c17 ) . . . . . . Feedback framework: reading and listening . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
.... .... ....
144 153 154
155 156 xvii
Fig. 6 Fig. 7
List of Figures
Mind map of The Mitten (from https://www.palm-edu. eu/content/der-handschuh-1/ ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mind map for storytelling in the child’s third language . . . . . . . . .
Schools as Linguistic Space: Multilingual Realities at Schools in Vienna and Brno Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3
Visualizing hybrid borders between languages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A link between flags, nations, and the language repertoire (a) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A link between colors, nations, and the language repertoire (b). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
224 225 226
Beyond Conventional Borders of Second Language Teachers’ Education: A Digital, Interdisciplinary, and Critical Postgraduate Curriculum Fig. 1
Students’ altered Arabic letters drawings (shared in the LRM forum) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
List of Tables
Repositioning Language Education Theory Table 1
Overview of potential directions for language education theory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities Through CLIL: An E-learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers Table 1
Overview of the professional development program . . . . . . . . .
Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary Engineering Students Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4 Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8 Table 9 Table 10
Descriptive statistics for biographical variables . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contingency table for language skills trained through model engine task . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contingency table for collapsed language skills trained through model engine task . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contingency table for the skills area fostered by the model engine task . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contingency tables for didactic aspects appreciated by students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contingency tables for objectives achieved by the task . . . . . . . Contingency table for motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contingency table for self-assessment as language learners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . One-way goodness-of-ﬁt chi-square test results for four items . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Clustered students’ answers to Item 3 (not teacher-corrected) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
127 127 127 128 129 130 130 130 131 133
List of Tables
Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning with Intercomprehension Table 1 Table 2
Indicators for autonomy and scaffolding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Indicators for strategies and awareness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thinking Outside the Box: The Impact of Globalization on English Language Teachers in Austria Table 1
Mediating factors impacting on ELT teachers in Austria . . . . . .
Third-Age University Teachers in Language Education: Navigating the Boundaries ofWork-Life Balance and Retirement Table 1
Participants’demographic and contextual information. . . . . . . . .
Study Abroad: L2 Self-efﬁcacy and Engagement in Intercultural Interactions Table 1 Table 2
Overview of constructs: self-efﬁcacy and social contact variables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Signiﬁcant correlations between L2 self-efﬁcacy at program entry and perceived quantity and quality of interactions with host national students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Schools as Linguistic Space: Multilingual Realities at Schools in Vienna and Brno Table 1
Between uniformity and pluralism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Beyond Conventional Borders of Second Language Teachers’ Education: A Digital, Interdisciplinary, and Critical Postgraduate Curriculum Table 1
LRM structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Conceptualizing and Problematizing Boundaries in Language Education Achilleas Kostoulas
Abstract This is a book about borders in language education, or, more precisely, a book that aims to challenge the way we think about the boundaries that define our professional lives as language educators. The interrogation of these boundaries is timelier than ever, as in recent years we are witnessing an erosion in the certainties through which language education has traditionally defined itself. This volume is premised on the belief that there is need for more shared discourse that challenges persisting borders: discourse that might bring closer those of us whose interests lie in different languages and curricular areas; discourse that will enable synergies between diverse theoretical perspectives; and discourse that might help to bridge divides between theory and practice.
1 Introduction This is a book about borders in language education, or, more precisely, a book that aims to challenge the way we think about the boundaries that define our professional lives as language educators. The idea that language education is, inherently, an act of border crossing is not particularly novel. In a plenary address delivered at the 1996 Annual Conference of the Japanese Association for Language Teaching, Julian Edge pointed out that: border-crossing resonates at so many levels and in so many ways: the physical, the cultural, the political, the geographical, the psychological, the social, the personal – and that is without even beginning to consider what might be seen as the core, professional borders of language and pedagogic style which we cross daily in our necessarily cross-cultural TESOL activities. (Edge, 1997, p. 2)
In the years since, interdisciplinary outlooks have become increasingly popular in the field of language education, but there is still a very visible sense of compartmenA. Kostoulas (B) Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_1
talization, both in our informing theories and in the practice of language teaching. Crossing such boundaries is an ongoing task, and one to which this book aims to contribute. However, locating the faultlines that traverse the profession (e.g., between native and target language, between familiar and exotic cultures, between theoretical disciplines, or between craft and science), and demonstrating that our professional action involves mediating between such domains is just one of the ways in which boundaries need to be challenged. What is perhaps more relevant to the purpose of this book is the observation that borderlines do not just segregate aspects of our professional lives, but also serve to bound them, by separating language education from other domains of activity, and defining what it includes (or, more pertinently, what it excludes). In language education, these borders have tended to confine our interest to the instrumental uses of language and the technical aspects of methodology. In this perspective, learning a language is about developing the ability to communicate, whereas the ways in which language education may connect to values, justice, ethics, and power are left unexamined, on the other side of the conceptual border. Similarly, when theoretical knowledge is brought to bear on language education, this is often in the interest of fostering teaching skills and, ultimately, promoting efficient learning. Those aspects of education that pertain to the creation of a “formative culture of beliefs, practices and social relations that enable individuals to wield power (…) and nurture a democratic society” (Giroux, 2011, p. 4) are typically ostracized from the language classroom. The structures through which this technocratic vision of language education is legitimated, and alternatives excluded, are the second type of boundaries that this volume aspires to challenge. The interrogation of these boundaries is timelier than ever, as in recent years we are witnessing an erosion in the certainties through which language education has traditionally defined itself. For instance, the emergence of hybrid pedagogical forms, like Content and Language Integrated Learning or English Medium Instruction, have meant that distinctions between language education and other aspects of teaching and learning are becoming less clear-cut. At the same time, relatively straightforward divisions of labor, whereby language teachers just applied the findings of educational and linguistic research, are being replaced with hybrid identities which fuse the roles of teachers and researchers, invested with authority and responsibility. Added to this, we have to contend with the fact that “texts, languages and semiotic resources are crossing boundaries easily” and “territorialised (i.e., spatially routed and circumscribed) ways of conducting social ties, identities and community lives are receiving less significance” (Canagarajah, 2017, p. 2). Across the entire field of language education, there is a questioning of social, cultural, theoretical, and disciplinary structures, and this raises questions about the boundaries within which our professional existence is organized. The impetus for putting together an edited volume that attempts to address these themes was provided by the Language Education Across Borders international conference, an interdisciplinary meeting that took place in Graz in December 2017. Much like the Graz conference, this volume is premised on the belief that there is need for more shared discourse that challenges persisting borders: discourse that
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might bring closer those of us whose interests lie in different languages and curricular areas; discourse that will enable synergies between diverse theoretical perspectives; and discourse that might help to bridge divides between theory and practice.
2 Language Education at a Time of Post-certainty This is a book written for an age of crisis in language education, one which necessitates re-engaging with fundamental questions about the nature and purpose of our professional activity. Giroux (2011, p. 14) reminds us that every form of education “presupposes a vision of the future and a legitimation of particular forms of social life,” but (as will be seen in the paragraphs that follow) it appears that many established or axiomatic beliefs about language, teaching, and learning can no longer fulfil their authority-providing function. As our certainties about the foundational beliefs of language education are eroded, we are also becoming increasingly attuned to what McNamara (2012, p. 478) described as the “presence of the irrational” in the spaces where language is created, taught, learnt, and used. It is in these senses that we might describe this crisis as a post-certainty age, and this observation has profound implications for the ways we think about the theory of language education, our preferred ways of teaching and learning, and the ways we relate to the context of our professional activity. With regard to the conceptual premises of language education, the field appears to have entered a post-theoretical phase. This post-theoretical turn does not involve only the rejection of the so-called grand theories, but also a questioning of the role of theory itself, and the ways in which it is created, institutionalized, and applied in language education. One aspect of this post-theoretical turn is the rejection of positivist thinking in language education, the belief that language and the learning and teaching processes can be better understood by segmenting them into conceptually manageable problems which can then be resolved by the application of reason and the scientific method (Kostoulas, 2018). Increasingly, this belief is complemented by accounts that foreground the complex interconnections between the phenomena that interest us as language educators, and the ways in which they function within social ecologies (Kramsch, 2008; Tudor, 2001; van Lier, 2006). A second aspect is the poststructuralist redefinition of language: This represents a shift away from the Saussurean perspective of language as a stable system brought to existence by the aggregation of its structural elements, which transparently represents realities external to the user. In place of such conceptualizations, language education is increasingly beginning to engage with contemporary debates in linguistics and psychology that raise awareness of how discourse is created, and the ways in which it serves as a site for the construction of identities (e.g., De Costa, 2016; Peirce, 1995; Pennycook, 2017). A similar shift appears to be taking place in language teaching methodology, which seems to have entered a post-universal phase. This is defined by a realization that whatever the commonalities that unite us a profession, language teaching and
learning is lived out locally. One way in which this post-universalism is experienced is in the increased willingness to accept cultural relativity, and the decoupling of the global language from a global culture. Whereas language teaching has been, justly, criticized for promoting monolithic versions of a, typically Western, target culture (e.g., Kumaravadivelu, 2006a; Phillipson, 1992), recent work has highlighted the ways in which language education can lead to the development of hybrid identities and cultural “third spaces” (Kramsch, 1995). A second way in which language education is moving away from universalist beliefs is the emergence of the “postmethod condition,” the legitimation of pedagogical methods which are in tune with local educational values and practices (Kumaravadivelu, 2006b). This is premised on the disillusionment with the “elegance of clear, rationally formulated curricula or the confident claims of current ‘best practice’” (Tudor, 2001, p. 1), and it replaces the search for universally effective teaching methods with the belief that pedagogy should be responsive to local contingency (Holliday, 2013). The third way in which developments in language education are challenging certainties about the teaching and learning of languages involves the ongoing global political restructuring, and the onset of what might be termed a post-sovereign era. From a political perspective, language education has tended to exist within two frameworks that are now obsolescent: colonialism and the nation-state. Writing in the early 1990s, Phillipson made a compelling case that not only does the global teaching of English (and, by extension, of other western languages) sustain a power disparity between the colonizing west (the “center”) and the colonized “periphery,” but also that this disparity did not abate after the collapse of the 19th and early 20th century empires. However, this power geometry appears to be disrupted by the increased transnational flows of people and texts associated with globalization, the development of ethnically, linguistically, and culturally superdiverse urban spaces (Blommaert, 2013), and our growing understanding of the roles of lingua francas (e.g., Seidlhofer, 2011), translanguaging (e.g., Blackledge & Creese, 2017), and polylingualism (Jørgensen, Karrebæk, Madsen, & Møller, 2011). At the same time, the political structures of the nation-state are being destabilized. The ideology of the nation-state, which postulated the unity of language, ethnicity, and territory, is no longer sustainable, not only because hitherto subjugated minorities are adopting nationalist discourses, but also because of migration and the development of transnational discourse communities. For language education, the implication is that it is no longer defensible to think of either language learners or target language speakers as homogeneous, essentialized groups. The challenge that this poses to language education is one of understanding how language-related identities are constructed, and how they interact with linguistic behavior, at both the individual and the collective levels. To summarize, many of the assumptions that sustained language education as a field of professional activity can no longer be unproblematically articulated. The restructuring of the field includes a reappraisal of the role of theory (post-theoretical), a shift from universally relevant values and practices to professional practice that is more meaningfully grounded on the particularities of the local context (postuniversal), and a reorganization of the social context in which language education is
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embedded (post-sovereign). A central premise running through this book is that this restructuring provides language teachers with an opportunity to redefine the profession in ways that provide more agency and more empowerment. To that end, several of the contributions that make up this collection describe aspects of this restructuring, and invite readers to reflect on how the emerging realities of the profession disrupt existing structures and boundaries in the profession. Complementing this, several other contributions discuss ways in which the language educators can re-envisage the profession, by re-building the boundaries of language education in ways that are closer to their values and needs.
3 The Contents of This Book As stated above, the “boundaries” that this edited volume intends to challenge can be conceptualized in two ways. The first is to view them as faultlines that separate different aspects of the profession. This is the perspective that has been used as the organizing principle of the collection. Faultlines, in this sense, can be theoretical or disciplinary, when they involve different ways of thinking about language education. Some examples of theoretical and disciplinary boundaries, and attempts to overcome them, are represented in Part A of the book, and they include differences between models of teacher education (see Skela, this volume), differences between linguistic, psychological, and pedagogical perspectives (see Kostoulas, this volume), differences between aspects of critical thinking (see Stelma & Fay, this volume), or differences between theoretical orientations (see Costantino, this volume). Another set of boundaries is curricular and organizational, and might index differences between teaching English and other content areas. The chapters in Part B discuss how such boundaries might be challenged by hybrid pedagogies, which fuse linguistic objectives with other curricular areas (Vourdanou, this volume), intercultural comprehension (Mewald, this volume), technical education (Tatzl, this volume), and literature and global education (Wehrmann, this volume). Boundaries, in the sense of separating lines within the profession, could also refer to geographical borders, as seen in Part C, which includes contributions on globalization (Moser & Kletzenbauer, this volume), study abroad mobility (Hessel, this volume), superdiverse schools (Schwarzl, Vetter, & Janík, this volume), and refugee education (Kitsiou et al., this volume). Similarly, it might refer to temporal borders, such as the boundaries between work and non-work time, or professional life and retirement (Babi´c & Talbot, this volume). The second way in which boundaries in language education might be conceptualized is as structures that “bound” and define the profession. This conceptualization runs across the book, whether these boundaries are explicitly challenged, or implicitly problematized. In this case, the act of “challenging boundaries” is not one of forging connections, but rather one of articulating an understanding how such structures come into being, and interrogating their value. It involves understanding how such boundaries connect to the exercise of power, especially at the levels of intention and decision (see, especially, Stelma & Fay, this volume). It entails conceptualizing and
articulating theoretical understandings (theorizing; cf. Costantino, this volume; Kostoulas, this volume), with a view to exposing the latent nature of ideology in language education, and tracing connections to hegemony. Finally, it involves reimagining the role of the language education professional in ways that extend beyond facilitating the development of linguistic competence, and encompass what has been variously termed “responsible pedagogy” (Rivers, 2015), “global citizenship” (Birch, 2009) and “global education” (Lütge, 2015). Structurally, this collection is divided into three parts, which correspond to different ways of conceptualizing boundaries. The first part, entitled “Rethinking language education theory” comprises four chapters that invite readers to reflect on the corpus of theoretical knowledge that informs language education, and the ways in which such knowledge is produced and can be used. This discussion begins with a chapter by Janez Skela (“A Journey Through the Landscapes of Language Education”), who sets the scene by inviting readers to a guided tour of the field of language education. In this chapter, Skela uses the metaphor of a landscape to describe teaching methodology, the role of research and academic ideas, and second language teacher education. In his description, Skela highlights the interconnections between the three domains. He also traces salient developments that are moving the field away from the “golden age” of certainty, such as the emergence of the post-method condition, the rise and fall of applied linguistics as a source of theoretical knowledge for language education, and the move from relatively simplistic models of teacher training to reflective teacher education. This discussion leads him to problematize the effectiveness of current modes of teacher education, especially in view of the heightened demands associated with post-method teaching. Taking a cue from this problematization, in the following chapter (“Repositioning Language Education Theory”) Achilleas Kostoulas puts forward a theoretical framework for language education, which can serve to scaffold the theory-building and professional development of language teachers. In the first part of the chapter, Kostoulas describes the components of the framework, which connects language education theory to three informing disciplines (applied linguistics, language education psychology, and pedagogical theory). He also emphasizes the need for interdisciplinary synthesis of the insights that each informing discipline provides, in order to produce coherent theoretical accounts at appropriate levels of abstraction. In the second part of the chapter, it is suggested that the theorizations produced can be either conservative or transformation-oriented, and examples are used to show how novel theoretical insights can “perturb” the theory in either direction. The next chapter (“An Ecological Perspective for Critical Action in Applied Linguistics”), by Juup Stelma and Richard Fay, further extends this discussion by examining the connections between critical understandings of the context and purposeful action. The chapter begins with an overview of various approaches to critical thinking that have been used in applied linguistics, which—as they compellingly argue—do not always theoretically account for the stratified dynamics of human ecologies. To address this need, they propose an ecological perspective which synthesizes questions of power and agency, mutuality, affordances and situations, as well as connectedness,
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which they approach through the lens of intentionality and intentional dynamics. To exemplify their perspective, the authors describe the language policies used in Nordic universities as a “critical-intentional” response to the competing needs of preserving linguistic ecologies and accommodating to the spread of English as a global academic lingua franca. The first part of the collection concludes with a chapter by Anna Costantino (“Space and Time for Understanding(s): The Recursive Cycle of Language Education and Classroom Enquiry”), who demonstrates how a language educator developed an enhanced, theoretically informed understanding of her professional practice and context. In her chapter, Costantino describes how she made use of Exploratory Practice in order to understand her classroom experiences as a language teacher, a practitioner researcher, and an education theorist. Drawing on insights from her engagement with Exploratory Practice, as well as theoretical constructs such as praxis, classroom resources, and multiscalar practices, Costantino articulates an understanding that challenges the technocratic models of language education that permeated her context. In doing so, she also demonstrates the processes of theorization that were described in previous chapters. Part B comprises four chapters that problematize the disconnects between language education and other aspects of the curriculum, or between linguistic objectives and other aims of education. This part begins with a chapter by Katerina Vourdanou (“Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities through CLIL: An E-learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers”), which focusses on Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Vourdanou explains that institutional restrictions have meant that CLIL is only informally practiced in Greek schools, and that existing teacher education programs have failed to prepare language teachers to design and implement effective CLIL instruction. She goes on to argue for a model of teacher education which aims to develop hybrid (language and content specialist) teacher identities as well as communities of practice focusing on CLIL. This provides the theoretical warrant for an online teacher education program, which she goes on to describe. This description is accompanied by empirical data from the needs analysis that preceded the program, which help to contextualize the decisions associated with its design. The description of the program, along with its theoretical and contextual justification, trace the boundaries between curricular areas and also point towards ways in which these can be challenged through teacher education. In the chapter entitled “Beyond the Garrison: Global Education and Teaching (Canadian) Literature in the EFL Classroom,” Jürgen Wehrmann also traces connections between curricular areas, namely language education and teaching aspects of culture through literature. In this chapter, Wehrmann proposes a model of language education that integrates linguistic, literary, cultural, and ecological learning. This model of Global Education, which he contrasts to intercultural and transcultural learning, necessitates moving away from semiotic understandings of culture, which Wehrmann replaces with Deleuzian conceptualization of culture as an “assemblage of assemblages,” derived from the work of Manuel DeLanda. To illustrate how this model of education might be implemented in classroom practice, Wehrmann con-
cludes his chapter with a description of a model lesson, based on Margaret Atwood’s (1972) novel Surfacing. The following chapter (“Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary Engineering Students”), by Dietmar Tatzl, provides another example of pedagogy which challenges the divisions between curricular areas, this time in the context of Further Education. This chapter describes a practitioner case study, in which the author evaluated an English for Specific Purposes module in an aviation engineering program. Tatzl notes that the academic traditions of language teaching and engineering are very dissimilar, which poses challenges to their effective integration, and goes on to describe how the participants in the module engaged in authentic language tasks while constructing a model aircraft. He then presents extensive statistical data which pertain to the evaluation of the module, on the basis of which he concludes that the use of authentic tasks was pedagogically successful. In the final chapter of Part B (“Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning with Intercomprehension”), Claudia Mewald tackles the challenges of teaching language to large, multilingual classes, and describes how intercomprehension can be pedagogically exploited in such contexts. Intercomprehension is defined as the use of pre-existing knowledge, skills and strategies as well as schematic and contextual knowledge and visual support, in order to comprehend unfamiliar languages. The chapter includes a detailed presentation of a framework for intercomprehension methodology, which consists of six elements: authenticity, autonomy, scaffolding, strategies, awareness, and sensitivity. After presenting the framework, Mewald demonstrates its use through multimodal texts that were produced by young learners with diverse linguistic backgrounds, and discusses the pedagogic benefits of this approach. The third part of the collection looks into the changing anthropogeography of language education, and includes five chapters that show how the disruption of geographical borders is transforming the populations of the profession. This discussion opens with a chapter entitled “Thinking outside the Box: The Impact of Globalization on English Language Teachers in Austria,” by Alia Moser and Petra Kletzenbauer, who look into the construct of teacher identity and the ways that it is challenged by globalization. Their discussion begins with a theoretical overview, in which the authors suggest that a discussion of the teacher identity should account for phenomenological validity, situatedness, dynamism, and potential for change. They then go on to present empirical data from a small-scale qualitative study that examined how globalization is influencing language teachers in Austria. Although grounded in a specific context, their study highlights the dynamic ways in which teacher identity develops and the influence of globalizing pressures, both of which have the potential to inform teacher psychology more broadly. The next chapter (“Third-Age University Teachers in Language Education: Navigating the Boundaries of Work-Life Balance and Retirement”), by Sonja Babi´c and Kyle Talbot also looks into teacher psychology, by examining an under-researched population, namely language educators who have recently retired, but are still professionally active. In the chapter, the authors examine the experiences of three language educators who had worked in Higher Education. Using border theory as an analyti-
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cal frame, Babi´c and Talbot show how their participants navigate the challenges of retirement, and the redefinition of their role, as well as the boundaries between professional and personal life. These findings are extremely topical, given the prevailing neoliberal policies which are making such boundaries increasingly permeable. In the chapter entitled “Study Abroad: L2 Self-efficacy and Engagement in Intercultural Interactions,” Gianna Hessel shifts our attention to language learners and the topic of transnational mobility. The chapter reports on findings from a longitudinal quantitative study of German students who participated in the ERASMUS+ mobility scheme of the European Union. By looking into the students’ linguistic proficiency and self-efficacy levels at the start of the program and after three months abroad, Hessel shows that the students’ intercultural interactions with students in the host country were significantly associated with their self-conceptions, even for students with high linguistic proficiency. The following chapter (“Schools as Linguistic Space: Multilingual Realities at Schools in Vienna and Brno”), by Lena Schwarzl, Eva Vetter, and Miroslav Janík, reports on a collaborative project that studied multilingual schools in Austria and the Czech Republic. In the first part of the chapter, the authors describe the schools in terms of their language policies, using the construct of discursively and socially constructed linguistic space as an analytical frame. In the next section, readers are presented with information from interviews with the principals of the schools, who also talked about the language policies of the schools. This information is complemented, in the following section, with student-generated data on the students’ linguistic repertoires. By synthesizing all the information above, the authors conceptualize schools as linguistic spaces which exist in a continuum between uniformity and pluralism, and they conclude that monolingual norms are still prevalent, even though borders are becoming more porous. The collection concludes with the chapter entitled “Beyond Conventional Borders of Second Language Teachers’ Education: A Digital, Interdisciplinary, and Critical Postgraduate Curriculum,” a description of an online MA program offered by the Hellenic Open University, by Roula Kitsiou and colleagues. The “Language Education for Refugees and Migrants” program, which was initiated in 2016, aims to develop the professional skills of language teachers and other professionals involved in working with refugee and migrant populations. The three substantive sections of the chapter describe the context of the program, aspects of its design, and the participants’ reaction to it. The program, which incorporates elements of critical pedagogy and extends the content of teacher education to include aspects of international law and Arabic, demonstrates how a digital humanities internationalized environment can offer spaces for negotiation, participation and action for the rights of underprivileged and invisible social actors.
4 Before We Move on… There are two final points that need to be made before concluding this chapter. The first one is that this book has benefited from the effort of many people, to all of whom I am most grateful. I would like to thank the authors of their chapters for their enthusiastic support of this project, and for their extraordinary patience during multiple rounds of review. A special debt of gratitude extends to the colleagues who reviewed the chapters, and particularly Christina Gkonou, Eleni Motsiou, Judith Hanks, Vohla Arkhipenka, Richard Fay, and Juup Stelma. Needless to say, the responsibility for remaining editorial errors and oversights remains with me. The second point is that the purpose of this collection is not to tear down boundaries for the sake of disruption, but rather to point out “on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thoughts the practices that we accept rest” (Foucault, 1981, p. 154). As such, it is a collection deliberately intended to challenge the reader’s perceptions of what is normally accepted as language education, what is methodologically feasible, and what is pedagogically effective. While I do agree with the authors’ views regarding the implications of their work, I believe that all the ideas contained in these chapters are most valuable as long as they are not readily accepted, and as long as they trigger a renegotiation of the borders separating the sensible from the subversive. It is with this hope that I am now inviting you to move on to the authors’ contributions.
References Atwood, M. (1972). Surfacing. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. Birch, B. M. (2009). The English language teacher in global civil society. Abingdon: Routledge. Blackledge, A., & Creese, A. (2017). Translanguaging in mobility. In S. Canagarajah (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of migration and language (pp. 31–46). Abingdon: Routledge. Blommaert, D. J. (2013). Ethnography, superdiversity and linguistic landscapes: Chronicles of complexity. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Canagarajah, S. (2017). The nexus of migration and language: The emergence of a disciplinary space. In S. Canagarajah (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of migration and language (pp. 1–28). Abingdon: Routledge. De Costa, P. I. (2016). The power of identity and ideology in language learning: Designer immigrants learning English in Singapore. Cham: Springer. Edge, J. (1997). Crossing borders: Some values to declare. In S. Cornwell, P. Rule, & T. Sugino (Eds.), On JALT 1996: Crossing borders (JALT conference proceedings) (pp. 2–9). Tokyo: Japanese Association for Language Teaching. Foucault, M. (1981/1988). Practicing criticism. In L. D. Kritzman (Ed.), Foucault: Politics, philosophy, culture (pp. 152–158). London: Routledge. Giroux, H. A. (2011). On critical pedagogy. London: Continuum. Holliday, A. (2013). The struggle to teach English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jørgensen, J. N., Karrebæk, M. S., Madsen, L. M., & Møller, J. S. (2011). Polylanguaging in superdiversity. Diversities, 13(2), 23–37.
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Kostoulas, A. (2018). A language school as a complex system: Complex systems theory in language education. Berlin: Peter Lang. Kramsch, C. (1995). The cultural component of language teaching. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 8(2), 83–92. Kramsch, C. (2008). Ecological perspectives on foreign language education. Language Teaching, 41(3), 389–408. Kumaravadivelu, B. B. (2006a). Dangerous liaison: Globalisation, empire and TESOL. In J. Edge (Ed.), (Re-)Locating TESOL at an age of empire (pp. 1–26). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Kumaravadivelu, B. B. (2006b). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod. Abingdon: Routledge. Lütge, C. (2015). Global education: Perspectives for English language teaching. Münster: LIT Verlag. McNamara, T. (2012). Poststructuralism and its challenges for applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 33(5), 473–482. Peirce, B. N. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9–31. Pennycook, A. (2017). The cultural politics of English as an international language. Abingdon: Routledge. Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rivers, D. (2015). Introduction: Conceptualizing “the Known” and the relational dynamics of power and resistance. In D. Rivers (Ed.), Resistance to the Known: Counter-conduct in language education (pp. 1–22). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Seidlhofer, B. (2011). Understanding English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tudor, I. (2001). The dynamics of the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. van Lier, L. (2006). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. New York: Kluwer.
Rethinking Language Education Theory
A Journey Through the Landscapes of Language Education Janez Skela
Abstract This chapter shows how our understanding of (foreign) language teaching and teacher education has changed over the past few decades, and what the current beliefs and practices in relation to this issue are. To this end, the metaphor of “a journey through a landscape” of language teaching and teacher education is used. Our “guided tour” begins with the description of the landscape’s main “geographical” features: (a) clouds of academic ideas, representing the conceptual and empirical bases of foreign language teaching/learning and the relevance of academic research to language teachers; (b) the English Language Teaching world, including the shift from the traditional view of language teaching methods to the postmethod condition; and (c) language teacher education, reflecting a marked shift in teacher preparation programs from teacher training (teaching as a finite skill) to teacher education (teaching as a constantly evolving process of growth and change). Because all three features of the landscape are closely interrelated, they accentuate and benefit from each other. Through the analysis of these three features, we trace the evolution of (foreign) language teaching and teacher education as a field that is constantly in a state of change.
1 Introduction As Balboni (2006, p. 7) puts it, “all mythologies have their golden age, when things were clear and simple, which is in sharp contrast with the present age in which things have become complex and difficult to analyze and act upon.” In the field of English Language Teaching (ELT), too, there was a sort of “Golden Age,” when things were clear and simple. From the early 1940s on, however, the growth of linguistics, psychology, sociology, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and related disciplines has caused ELT to undergo tremendous changes. These feeder disciplines
J. Skela (B) University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_2
have produced an amazing amount of new insights into the process of language learning and have thus significantly influenced the teaching profession. With the expansion of ELT and applied linguistics in the 1960s and 1970s, many of the certainties of the “Golden Age” collapsed. This was followed by a period of complex debate whose characteristic signs were as follows: the emergence of pragmatics, the concept of communicative competence, notional-functional approaches to syllabus design (e.g., threshold levels), Communicative Language Teaching, the emergence of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), etc. (López Barrios & Villanueva de Debat, 2011). The trend, then, in language teaching practice, research, and teacher education has been one which goes from simplicity to complexity, turning ELT into a mosaic which is changing continuously, rapidly, and unpredictably. Some voices of contemporary applied linguistics point out that “the field of ELT has simply grown too large and diverse” (Howatt, 2004, p. 250), and argue that it “has reached a point where the accumulation of theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical knowledge is too sophisticated to be conceptualized in terms of methods” (Spada, 2007, p. 282). This has placed us in a postmethod condition (Kumaravadivelu, 1994)—one which requires new conceptualizations and terminology to talk about language teaching (Spada, 2007). This chapter constitutes an attempt to map out this dynamically changing landscape, and tease out salient changes and their implications for language teaching and teacher education. While the scope of the chapter is on foreign language education as a whole, our description will be anchored on the theory and practice of English language teaching, which will serve as an example, since the processes of professionalization and globalization that drive these changes are easier to discern there.
2 The Landscape of Language Teaching and Teacher Education To show how our understanding of language teaching and teacher education has changed over the past few decades, we will set out on a “journey” through a landscape of language teaching. The idea of such a landscape and its “geographical” features has been borrowed—in a radically modified form—from Waters (2009). Our “guided tour” begins with the description of some overall features of the landscape’s climate and geography. As can be seen in Fig. 1, the so-called winds of change blow “a steady succession of innovations across the landscape” (Waters, 2009, p. 108). They carry clouds bearing academic ideas or theory, and it is these theory-bearing clouds that supply ‘water’ to the surface. The next geographical feature of the landscape is the ELT world, which is “inhabited chiefly by large numbers of teachers and learners of EFL, who have migrated to it from all over the world” (Waters, 2009, p. 108). The last significant and conspicuous feature of the landscape is the Teacher Education Mountain, a
A Journey Through the Landscapes of Language Education
Fig. 1 Overall features of the landscape of language teaching and teacher education (illustration by Igor Rehar)
metaphor inspired by Woodward (1988). Here, we can see trainers and trainees all roped together in their common endeavor to climb the mountain and reach the “professional competence” peak. As the mountain requires a staged climb, there is a base camp at the bottom, which stands, metaphorically, for pre-service teacher education. As we know, “the sky cannot water the earth without first taking a drink from her” (Murphey, 1991, p. 113). Similar to the Water Cycle, where water evaporates from the surface and eventually returns to land in the form of precipitation, the relations between the clouds (of academic ideas) and the ground surface (i.e., the ELT World and the Teacher Education Mountain) form a comparable connected loop. Having described the landscape’s major features, our journey now continues by saying a little more about each of them.
3 Clouds of Academic Ideas According to Nunan (1999), proposals for classroom practice have so far been mainly derived from two main sources: (a) the conceptual basis, and (b) the empirical basis. This means that change can be driven either by speculation, “emerging from reconceptualizations of the nature of language, learners and the learning process” (Nunan, 1999, p. 38), or empirically, from data-based studies, whether these are conducted by researchers or by practitioners exploring their own practice in the field (see, e.g., Constantino, this volume). Let us briefly explore these two sources.
3.1 The Conceptual Basis of Language Education Until relatively recently, answers to classroom challenges “were derived less from empirical data than speculation” (Nunan, 1999, p. 38). This non-empirically grounded knowledge emerges to a large extent from general education (and philosophy). As it is mostly theoretical and discursive, its impact and value have often been determined more by its convincingness than by any empirical proof. Nunan (1999) mentions four concepts that have sprung from this source: communicative language teaching, learner-centered instruction, task-based language teaching (TBLT), and humanism and experiential learning. Although some of these conceptual developments have prompted research agendas to test their assumptions, current theories of language learning do not always lend themselves to being directly testable in the classic experimental tradition. Recent work in critical applied linguistics (e.g., Phillipson, 1992, 2009) has reminded is that the provenance of these ideas has tended to be the native-speaker Center, which roughly corresponds to the Anglophone West. Methodological trends deriving from the Center, like TBLT, learner-centered learning, learner autonomy, the native-speaker as the norm for L2 users, consciousness-raising and noticing, corpus linguistics, lexical approaches, and so on, have become accepted, over time, as “methodological correctness” (Prodromou & Mishen, 2008). Given the authority of native-speakers and Anglo-American academics, ELT practitioners worldwide are often reluctant to criticize ideas that are promoted as axiomatic truths. This means that even though some of these dictates are occasionally questioned (see below), the Center continues to “promote approaches to teaching and materials design emanating from Anglo-Saxon applied linguistics departments” (Prodromou & Mishen, 2008, p. 193).
3.2 The Empirical Basis of Language Education A more empirical approach to second language education has developed over the last thirty years (Nunan, 1999). If this is so, can we assume that empirical findings about the nature of language teaching and learning are reflected in or get “translated” into teaching materials, and eventually into teaching practice alongside non-empirically grounded theoretical beliefs? While this idea appears to be attractive and logical, numerous experts recognize a relatively weak link, or even big gaps, between academic research and language-teaching practitioners (Littlejohn, 1992; Macaro, 2003; Swan, 2012; Tomlinson, 2013; Ur, 2012). What are, then, the reasons for these “disconnections between theory and practice” (Tomlinson, 2013, p. 2)? At least three major problems can be identified when it comes to filtering research findings to the level of language practitioners: (a) the overwhelming quantity of research; (b) its inaccessibility for busy teachers; and (c) the research (ir)relevance to
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the teachers’ needs. The first aspect that gives rise to frustration is the sheer quantity of research being carried out. The difficulty for teachers, and teacher educators, wanting to improve practice through research is how to access, read, and interpret this impressive body of knowledge, a task for which many teachers do not have the time or energy. In relation to this point, many contemporary journals are filled with articles that only a handful of specialists can understand. In other words, the answers may be out there, but they are, unfortunately, often “camouflaged by complex terminology” (Macaro, 2003, p. xiii). Another dimension of inaccessibility is the question of paywalls—even large university libraries cannot afford to subscribe to much of the research that is produced—how could schools ever keep up? As to the third point, the relevance of research to teachers, some surveys (e.g., Macaro, 2003) reveal a significant mismatch between what teachers would like from research and what they actually get. This mismatch is due to the fact that the research agenda is being set almost entirely by researchers. In other words, research topics are “selected for reasons that serve the interests of the researcher, and that have nothing to do with their usefulness to the practitioner” (Ur, 2012). Although research has helped to advance our understanding of how languages are learnt and can be taught, Ur (2012) asks an important question: What is the place of research-based theory in the knowledge base underlying language education? And, with regard to the main source of the teacher’s professional teaching knowledge, she notes that: (for) the ELT practitioner the main source of professional learning is classroom experience, enriched by discussion with colleagues, feedback from students, and – for those teachers with the time and inclination – input through reading, conferences and courses, of which research is one important component. Research is not the primary basis of ELT knowledge for the practitioner, but it is a valuable supplement. (Ur, 2012)
The views expressed by Ur assume an incommensurable gap between teaching and practice, although this might be challenged with appropriate models of teacher education (see Sect. 5). But before we look into how such a disconnect might be addressed, let us now take a closer look into actual practice. Our journey through the landscape of language education continues by looking into the ELT world.
4 The English Language Teaching World Our first stop in the ELT World is, appropriately, its historical capital, Methodsville. “Among the major sites of interest in the older parts of this city are the monuments to methods such as grammar translation, audiolingualism, direct method, and so on. It was the creation of these impressive structures that originally led to the rise of Methodsville,” a city historically built from methods (Waters, 2009, p. 110). It’s a well-known story. For much of its history, language teaching has been almost obsessed with a search for the “right” method. Within the relatively brief era that spans from the late nineteenth century to the 1990s, language teaching theory
advanced mainly by conceptualizing teaching in terms of teaching methods (Stern, 1983). The search for the “best method” has resulted in a range of approaches such as Grammar-Translation, Direct Method, Audio-lingual, Situational, and Communicative. The traditional view of the development of methods over time is that “it has been cumulative, progressive, and relatively linear” (Hall, 2011, p. 79), developing from “traditional” to “modern.” Although the idea of language teaching methods as making “continuous upwards progress through history” (Hall, 2011, p. 79) is an oversimplification, this linear view is often adopted for the sake of clarity. Setting out the many ramifications of Method would be both beyond the scope of this chapter and redundant, as these are documented in numerous well-known sources, including Celce-Murcia, Brinton, and Snow (2014), Howatt (2004), Kelly (1969), Larsen-Freeman (2000), Mackey (1965), Richards and Rodgers (2001), Stern (1983), Titone (1968), and more. Methods are “products of their times,” meaning that “individual methods emerged at particular moments and in particular places as a result of the social and academic philosophies that were current in those contexts” (Hall, 2011, p. 102). Although it is not always easy to determine to what extent teachers have actually followed mainstream methods, we can make indirect inferences by looking at teaching and learning materials from past times. Such coursebooks can be said to “document” common practice in a given period, and their titles (e.g., A Direct Method English Course (Gatenby, 1952)) often attest to the strong influence of methodological prescriptivism. During the 1960s and 1970s, language pedagogy shifted away from the single method concept (Stern, 1983, p. 109). By the late 1960s, radical changes in linguistics and psychology brought about the decline of audiolingualism. Some, disturbed by the constant shifts in methodological prescriptions, pointed out the inadequacy of methods as theories of language teaching and argued that the importance of teaching methods had been exaggerated. They thought that the focus should be on other more important aspects of language learning (Stern, 1992). The very idea of a “method” was becoming more and more unfashionable, and all methods had declined substantially by the 1990s. Several new directions were pursued in the 1970s which have contributed to the modern concept of communicative language teaching (Stern, 1983). The new communicative paradigm caused Methodsville, the ancient capital, to grow so rapidly that a new district—the Communicative District—had to be developed. Today, this newly established Communicative District occupies the largest and the most important part of the present-day city, and its environs encompass a wide range of different architectural styles (Waters, 2009). So, language teaching has a remarkable history, and it will not do for us to be ignorant of it. Therefore, any present-day theory of language teaching must at least attempt to understand what the methods stand for and what they have contributed to current thought on teaching (Stern, 1983). Clearly, the Communicative Approach was not born in a void. It has developed “logically” out of the previous history of ELT, and as such it should not be viewed as a revolution, but rather a logical evolution—as “a set of additions and modifications, whose origins are deeply rooted
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in history” (Douthwaite, 1991, p. 7). It may be seen as an attempt to merge and apply two diametrically opposing views of language teaching, termed Natural (i.e., unconscious learning, spontaneity, language as communication) and Rational (i.e., reason, conscious learning), which overlaps with the “activism-formalism” distinction (Douthwaite, 1991), or the “marketplace” approach versus the “monastery” approach (McArthur, 1983). Given this coming-together of the two traditions, it is not surprising that the Communicative Approach is so eclectic in its nature. Since the 1990s, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has continued to evolve by drawing from different educational paradigms and diverse sources with the result that there is still “no single or agreed upon set of practices that characterize current communicative language teaching” (Richards, 2006, p. 22). CLT has triggered a number of crossover educational trends that share the same basic set of principles, for instance: Task-Based Instruction, Neurolinguistic Programming, Multiple Intelligences, Content-Integrated Language Learning (CLIL), Learning Strategy Training, etc. So, gradual but considerable expansion has taken place in the ELT capital city, eating up land well beyond the historical capital, Methodsville, and the more recently established Communicative District. At some point, as already noted, “the limits of Method both in practice and as a theoretical concept became clear, (and) applied linguists began to speak of ‘The Death of the Method,’ or of the ‘Postmethod Condition’” (Hall, 2011, p. 100). Initial stages of post-method practice may be identified as “principled eclecticism” (Hall, 2011, p. 100)—a reaction to “the profusion of theories, methods, research studies, and pedagogical innovations with the view that none of them is comprehensive or powerful enough to command single-minded support” (Stern, 1992, p. 11). The principles and practice of the postmethod view prompt an important question: Does Postmethod offer a new paradigm within ELT and how reasonable is it in practice? If it does, such a development would constitute a radical act of boundary disruption in the field of language education. However, it is far from clear whether this is the case. Crookes (2009, p. 201), for example, notes that “the field of ELT is insufficiently sensitive to the constraints that the majority of English teachers are under.” Teachers are usually not completely free to choose how to teach and what methodology to follow. Thus, Akbari (2008) argues strongly that postmethod asks too much of teachers, ignoring the social, political and cultural realities of the classroom, and suggests that the “Death of Method” often leads not to a postmethod era but to the replacement of methods by textbook-defined practice (p. 647). He goes on to highlight the contradiction of trying to teach critically and within a postmethod pedagogy via generally non-critical, neutralized, and sanitized published textbooks. In short, Akbari argues that, in reality, “the postmethod is qualitatively not much different from method” (p. 642). If Littlejohn (2012) is right in arguing that we are witnessing the impact of McDonaldization on the design of language teaching materials, then there is something here which is deeply worrying, and what the field is witnessing is not an act of liberation from the constraints of method but rather a strengthening of the boundaries within which language teaching practice is enacted.
With these considerations in mind, we have reached the point where we need to look specifically at English Language Teaching, and problematize how “the irrepressible March of the English language across the face of the earth” (Swales, 1993, p. 283) is causing a reexamination of hitherto unquestioned certainties in contemporary language teaching methodology. As English has established itself as the world’s international language par excellence, “there is an international belief that knowledge of English brings social, economic and ‘knowledge’ benefits” (Mitchell, 2009, p. 92). Mitchell goes on to say that English “has come to dominate the ‘foreign language’ slot in school and university curricula around the world,” and “is displacing traditional ‘first foreign languages’ in many places” (p. 92). One of the changes caused by the emergence of global English is that the traditional distinction between English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL) has become difficult to sustain. Since many EFL students use English globally, it is often difficult to tell whether that makes it a foreign or a second language. If both EFL and ESL have looked for language norms based on native speaker English, then this is no longer the case, with the emergence of a new acronym—ELF (English as a Lingua Franca), which indexes communication between people who do not share the same language and for whom English is not their mother tongue. The language norms to be aimed at, together with the belief in native-speaker ownership, have come under scrutiny, at times challenging the dominance that the Anglophone Center exerts on the periphery. The thinking is that language teaching should be based on the successful second language user, not on the idealized native speaker. If they are using the foreign language merely as imperfect native speakers, so the argument goes, it condemns learners to failure, as teachers try to turn them into “ersatz native speakers” (Gray, 2010, p. 31). Another area in which the perceived preeminence and desirability of English has impacted language teaching and teacher education is language policymaking (Mitchell, 2009). According to Mitchell (2009), two important policy changes are: (a) the general tendency to lower the starting age for foreign language learning (see also Kostoulas, this volume); and (b) the intensification of teaching through the adoption of the target language as a medium of instruction, such as CLIL, bilingual education, immersion programs (see, e.g., Tatzl, this volume; Vourdanou, this volume). This means that new hybrid models of language pedagogy are emerging, which, in their various guises, combine features of EFL, ESL, and ELF schools of thought and practice. All in all, it seems, then, that the changes taking place in the ELT world are not prompted so much by research evidence but by the important aspects of social context—notably globalization (see also Moser & Kletzenbauer, this volume) and the global pre-eminence of English. If it is the international social context of the English language that determines its teaching approaches, a word of warning is in place here. As “the greater part of the language-teaching literature has concerned the teaching of English” (Hall & Cook, 2012, p. 272), teachers and teacher educators might act on the assumption that the ways in which English is acquired/learned bear equal relevance to the teaching/learning of any language. Yet, it is of utmost importance to differentiate between
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the psycholinguistic aspects of language learning, which may indeed have some universal features, and the sociolinguistic factors, which may vary considerably (Hall & Cook, 2012). Is there, then, as Crystal (1999) asks, any consensus emerging about what a teacher should do in such circumstances? In a world where traditional models and values are changing so rapidly, the task facing language teachers is immense. However, it has been suggested that without proper teacher education programs, post-method teachers might “not be able to adopt, adapt and/or develop their own theories and practices in their given contexts” (Soto, 2014, p. 43), which is what the postmethod condition asks of them. The question of what constitutes an appropriate language teacher education model and how teachers might be best prepared to cope with the lack of certainty that typifies the postmethod condition is one that we will discuss as we make our way through the final feature of the landscape, the Teacher Education Mountain.
5 The Teacher Education Mountain As we discuss the final feature of the landscape, the mountain that constitutes a metaphor for Second Language Teacher Education (SLTE), it is important to remember that here, too, a profound shift from simplicity to complexity has taken place. A key element of this process has been the re-examination and the radical expansion of the professions’ knowledge base, or the corpus of linguistic, academic and practical knowledge that teachers are expected to know in order to be effective in their roles. Although there are still significant differences of opinion concerning its exact specification, it broadly consists of three areas of knowledge (Johnson, 2009): (a) academic content knowledge or knowledge about; (b) pedagogical knowledge of how teachers should teach (or knowledge how); and (c) knowledge about the institutional methods through which content and pedagogies are learned, or how teachers learn to teach. The prominence of these three knowledge areas in SLTE programs has varied considerably. Broadly speaking, throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, language teachers learned to teach through three basic teacher-training designs. The first model, or “no teaching component” design, posited that knowledge of language was considered sufficient for teaching it (Graves, 2009), and that one could become a qualified teacher through language study alone. The second model presupposed the completion of a higher education courses (e.g., the one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education) and it was based on the philosophy of education, with much less weight being given to practical work (Haycraft, 1988). The third model, which involved short courses outside Higher Education, like the International House “four-week course” (Duff, 1988), was based on the assumption that language education exclusively involved the application of effective teaching techniques, and it therefore aimed to give future teachers the practical classroom skills needed to teach methods like Audiolingualism and Situational Language Teaching (Burns & Richards, 2009).
5.1 The Emergence of Applied Linguistics In the 1960s, the discipline of applied linguistics started to emerge, and with it came a body of specialized academic knowledge and theory that began to be included in the curricula of university-based teacher preparation programs. Historically, these changes in conceptualizing the knowledge base of language teaching have separated language and teaching, and resulted in familiar dichotomies: content/pedagogy, theory/practice, and knowledge/skills (Graves, 2009). The approach that dominated SLTE at this time typically consisted of courses in linguistics, literature, the study of methodology, and sometimes a teaching practicum (Richards, 2002; Burns & Richards, 2009). The role of teacher-education programs was to transmit this two-part knowledge base. This involved knowledge about language and knowledge about methodology, but “there was little concern for understanding the teacher-learner or how teachers actually learn to teach” (Graves, 2009, p. 117). The assumption was that teachers would put together the content component and the methods component when they began teaching (Graves, 2009). Applied linguistics, then, in a way, hijacked language teacher education, as becoming a teacher meant mastering the discipline of applied linguistics. Although the concept of teaching as an applied science was “undoubtedly part of a well-intended effort to ‘professionalize’ it, by aligning it with paradigmatic professional occupations, such as medicine” (Wallace, 1999, p. 180), the positioning of the language-based disciplines as the major foundation for SLTE has also generated the ever-lasting tug-of-war between practical teaching skills and academic knowledge and their representation in SLTE programs. Since the 1970s, there has been a marked shift in our understanding of what we mean by teacher preparation. Since then, several developments have significantly shaped the way SLTE is currently conceptualized (Burns & Richards, 2009), of which the most important are changes in the knowledge base of language teaching and a re-orientation of our perspectives on pre-service teachers.
5.2 Changes in Conceptualizing the Knowledge Base of Language Teaching As noted earlier, the relationship between the two differing kinds of knowledge—knowledge about and knowledge how—has often been problematic. The established core curriculum of a SLTE program has traditionally been composed of two “packages”: a “package” of disciplinary knowledge that provides academic underpinning of practice, and a methodology “package” that shows teachers how to teach. In the “applied science” model of teacher education (Wallace, 1991), which underpinned the growth of applied linguistics, it was assumed that disciplinary knowledge about language and SLA can be unproblematically applied to teaching, perhaps facilitated by classroom observation or through experience (Burns & Richards, 2009).
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The growth and diversification of applied linguistics did not substantially affect how teachers were taught (Graves, 2009). The content component of teacher education was taught separately, in both time and space, from the practical component and actual teaching practice (Freeman & Johnson, 1998; cited in Graves, 2009, p. 117). It was perhaps not surprising teachers often failed to apply such knowledge in their classrooms. For this reason, many experts called for the reconceptualization of the knowledge base of language teaching (Johnson, 2009) that would include the third strand which had often been missing from formulations of the traditional core content of SLTE—namely, the nature of teaching itself, or how teachers learn to teach. In the 1980s, certain intellectual streams significantly changed our ways of understanding teaching. When researchers coined the term “teacher-learner,” it became a touchstone for teacher educators. Teachers began to be seen as “actors in two fields of activity: with students in classrooms where they taught” and in “settings of professional training (…) where they learned” (Freeman, 2009, p. 13, original emphasis). In other words, SLTE began to include not simply what teachers need to learn, but increasingly how they would learn it. Additionally, research on teacher cognition began to develop and it focused on how teacher-learners’ prior (experiential) knowledge affects what and how they learn and how they make sense of experience (Borg, 2006; Graves, 2009). Language teacher cognition research indicated very clearly that “teacher-learners have strongly held conceptions of and tacit personal theories about teaching through which they filter input from educational courses” (Graves, 2009, p. 117). In other words, the research distinguished between explicit knowledge and implicit knowledge. Moreover, research that has focused on language teachers and language teaching itself has begun to acknowledge an essential kind of knowledge that is critical for language teachers—pedagogical content knowledge or practitioner knowledge (Johnson, 2009). This means that teachers have specialized knowledge about how to teach their subject matter—the so-called “pedagogical content knowledge” (Graves, 2009, p. 118, citing Shulman, 1987). Pedagogical content knowledge, then, describes the teacher’s capacity to transform content into accessible and learnable forms. The acknowledgement of the pedagogical content knowledge “positions language teachers as creators of knowledge that constitutes the activity of language teaching” (Johnson, 2009, p. 22). This is not to say that English teachers do not need to know the disciplinary knowledge of their field, but it does suggest that they also need to acquire the pedagogical content knowledge that will enable them to teach language (and linguistic concepts) in ways that will make it possible for their students to learn them.
5.3 Changes in Conceptualizing Language Teachers It is ironic how little language teacher education has concerned itself with how people actually learn to teach. The notion that there is a learning process that undergirds, if not directs, teacher education is fairly recent (Upadhyay, 2014). A focus on the
nature of teacher learning has significantly expanded and reshaped the knowledge base of language teaching, and consequently both the content and delivery of teacher education programs (Burns & Richards, 2009). Roberts (1998) considers teacher education in terms of four “views of the person,” which have a significant impact on the objectives, content and process of teacher education. In the first perspective, pre-service teachers are viewed essentially as inputoutput systems. Such a conception privileges imitative and behaviorally-informed models of teacher education, such as what Wallace (1991) called the craft model. This typically involved preservice teachers working alongside experienced masters, following their instructions and advice, and learning by imitating. A second view of preservice teachers involves focusing on their self-agency and viewing them as autonomous agents. Inherent in this view is the goal of empowering teachers with specialized knowledge about language and pedagogy. In the applied science model (Wallace, 1991), such theoretical knowledge is imparted to pre-service teachers by experts, and then the former are tasked with applying this knowledge to practice. The other two perspectives described by Roberts (1998) involve viewing preservice teachers: as constructivists, who craft personal constructions of their professional contexts, and as social beings, whose professional role is shaped by social rules, group identity, occupational culture, and teacher development in the context of school. Comparing the four views, Roberts suggests that “behavioral and humanistic perspectives throw useful but only partial light on teacher learning,” and that “a synthesis of constructivist and social perspectives, a broadly social constructivist view, provides the most helpful and appropriate general framework for teacher education design” (p. 13). Such a synthesis led to the development of the reflective model of teacher education (Wallace, 1991), which is described below. The reflective model is trainee-centered. It assigns great importance to teacher cognition and seeks to establish solid connections between theory (i.e., both personal small-t theories, and the capital-T Theory) and classroom practices. It includes two kinds of knowledge development: (a) received knowledge (i.e., external input coming from scholarly sources, the collective theoretical knowledge of the profession or the capital-T Theory); and (b) experiential knowledge. The trainee will develop experiential knowledge by teaching or observing lessons, or recalling past experience; then reflecting, alone or in discussion with others, in order to work out theories about teaching; then trying these out again in practice. Such a “reflective cycle” aims for continuous improvement and development of personal theories in action (Ur, 1996). Which of three models of teacher education delineated by Wallace (1991) is likely to be most effective given the changes in the ELT world and the rapid turnover of academic ideas discussed above? Being an effective English language teacher means a lot of things. It involves, as Richards (2015, p. 106) notes, “mastering practical classroom skills, as well as acquiring specialized knowledge that teachers make use of in their teaching.” But it also involves developing a deeper understanding of teaching, over time, through the experience of teaching. At the same time, teaching is an activity that draws on the teacher’s personal assumptions, beliefs, and values (Richards, 2015). The challenge in this expanded scope of the knowledge base of language teaching lies in how to operationalize it, that is, in defining how this learning can be
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incorporated into a teacher education program that would adequately prepare as many participants as possible for the classroom contexts in which they will teach. As noted previously, a postmethod pedagogy poses a lot of challenges to language teachers, and their preparation “requires the existence of an appropriate teacher education infrastructure” (Akbari, 2008, p. 644). Recognizing the legitimacy of practitioner knowledge (i.e., the teacher’s capacity to transform content into accessible and learnable forms), teacher-learners’ implicit personal theories, and the role of prior (experiential) knowledge, calls for the kind of teacher education pedagogy/methodology that emphasizes exploration and experimentation, risk taking and cooperation, balancing input and reflection, using what trainees bring and know, and increasing their autonomy (Freeman & Cornwell, 1993, pp. xiii–xiv). Such methodology of teacher learning will enable teachers to make sense of the disciplinary knowledge they are exposed to in their SLTE programs and to reorganize their experiential knowledge which, in turn, helps them understand their classroom practices. For practitioner knowledge to become part of the knowledge base of teacher education, it must be made public and “represented in such a way that it is accessible to others and open for inspection, verification, and modification” (Johnson, 2009, p. 23). All this calls for the reflective teaching methodology which resists the assumption that people will learn to teach just by being told what to do or how to do it. Instead, it is based on the educational philosophy of constructivism, which claims that knowledge is actively constructed and not passively received. It seems, then, that a broadly reflective model of learning teaching provides the most helpful and appropriate general framework for teacher education design. Although the reflective model might now be the dominant paradigm of teacher education, there are also many pedagogical and institutional barriers to devising and implementing “reflective practice” in pre-service training (Wallace, 1999, p. 184). This raises many questions about the scope, impact, and realities of pre-service teacher education.
5.4 The Scope, Impact, and Realities of Pre-service Teacher Education One of the difficulties in implementing a reflective model of learning teaching in preservice training is the legacy of knowledge-transmission, which is very pervasive and is embedded in most institutions that prepare teachers. This often results in the preservice teacher trainer being the only person in the teacher preparation program trying to teach “reflectively.” In such circumstances, where there is no institutional commitment to a reflective framework of education, many student-teachers may not—at least initially—respond well to this kind of methodology, as they are not used to it and might find it odd or “non-scientific.” An important assumption of the reflective model is the interplay of practice and theory—a reflective cycle where classroom practice “will inform personal theories,
and theories and Theory will inform classroom practice” (Malderez & Bodoczky, 1999, p. 14). In this view of initial teacher education, “where the central link is classroom practice, the carefully designed practicum has a vital part to play and can no longer be viewed as a luxury add-on” (Malderez & Bodoczky, 1999, p. 14). However, the fact that trainees get on average only six weeks of teaching practice during their entire pre-service education, makes the scope of pre-service teacher education disappointingly narrow. Six weeks (or even less) of teaching practice, usually completely separate in time and space, cannot possibly prepare studentteachers for life in the classroom or help them acquire their “practitioner knowledge.” For one thing, “the trainee teacher has to become a practitioner, and only then they can become reflective practitioners” (Wallace, 1999, p. 185). This raises questions about the sequence of professional learning, and which aspects of teaching are best learned at which points in a career and through which processes (Freeman, 2009, p. 15). The reflective model assumes that developing expertise in teaching entails a constantly evolving process of growth and change, and that professional learning will take place throughout a career. Consequently, we need to acknowledge that there is a wide gap between pre-service and in-service trainees. At the end of a pre-service course, “new trainees will, as it were, only be outside Paddington Station when their destination is Plymouth” (unknown author). It is obvious, then, that a teacher’s expertise will be mostly developed on the job, the pre-service education course can only lay foundations for the trainee’s motivation and ability for life-long learning. From what has been said, it follows that the aim of an initial professional training program is, as Wallace (1999) puts it, at least two-fold: (a) to bring the trainee to an acceptable level of professional competence; and (b) to equip the trainee with the motivation and the means to continue to develop in professional expertise through reflective practice. An important role of the pre-service teacher education program is, then, to provide learner-teachers with opportunities to develop reasoning and reflective skills, tools and processes for continuing their own learning of teaching throughout their professional lives (Malderez & Bodoczky, 1999). Therefore, Wallace (1999) makes a strong case for explicit demonstration of reflective techniques. A training framework as a bridge to reflective practice typically contains activities such as the teaching practicum, teaching practice portfolios, supervision and the supervisory dialogue, reflective demonstration (“follow me!”), micro-teaching, loop input (“hall of mirrors”), journal and diary keeping, peer observation, action research, study groups, self-development activities, and others. What these instructional practices have in common is that they see teacher learning as the theorization of practice (i.e., knowledge construction). In other words, making visible the student-teacher’s beliefs about teaching and the nature of practitioner knowledge, and thus providing the means by which such knowledge can be elaborated, understood, reviewed, and reorganized (Burns & Richards, 2009). However, implementing reflective practice in pre-service training and developing student-teachers’ reflective skills is closely related to the trainees’ reflective ability. Evidence suggests that reflective ability is not acquired easily. Many student-teachers, at least initially, are not equipped with the ability to reflect on their tacit personal
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theories in order to construct a personal understanding of teaching (Malderez & Bodoczky, 1999). Moreover, reflection is very much dependent on personal experience, something which beginning teachers may lack and therefore find it difficult to isolate “problems” and draw connections between reflection and theory. For this reason, trainees find some topics easier to reflect on than others. The theory-practice dichotomy enshrined in the reflective model as two kinds of knowledge development, namely received knowledge and experiential knowledge, may be understood as a continuum developed over time in which student-teachers move from a conception of teaching heavily influenced by theory to a conception in which theory and practice inform each other. In short, it is far from unusual if we, as trainers, often have to work at a “sub-reflective level” (Wallace, 1999, p. 185). Closely related to reflective practice are teacher-learners’ prior knowledge about and their tacit conceptions of teaching, through which they filter input from educational courses. The contemporary constructivist position “that teacher learning occurs through interactions between prior knowledge on the one hand and new input and experience on the other” (Borg, 2009, p. 164) carries significant implications for pre-service teacher education: trainees must first recognize their existing knowledge and beliefs about teaching in order to transform and reorganize them. In other words, the role of teacher education then becomes one of reshaping existing ideas rather than simply introducing new raw material (Upadhyay, 2014). Or, as Borg (2009, p. 164) puts it, “ignoring preservice teachers’ prior cognitions is likely to hinder their ability to internalize new material.” Even though we are dealing here with “the unobservable dimensions of teaching—teachers’ mental lives,” that is, what teachers think, know, and believe (Borg, 2009, p. 163), it is still possible to design a methodology that will help them “fish out” their invisible and implicit beliefs. A pre-service teacher training course cannot be “a vade mecum through all the broken terrain that menaces the beginning teacher or still bewilders the veteran” (Bolinger, 1985, p. viii). We must, then, accept that pre-service teacher education has its scope and shortcomings, and it should not be expected to provide more than it is able to. Therefore, both teacher trainers and teacher-learners must remember to temper idealism with realism.
6 Conclusion So, what are we to conclude when we bring the three features of our landscape together? As to academic research, both teachers and teacher trainers are left with a situation where there is an enormous amount of research literature out there but much of it is irrelevant, confined to “alien” contexts, often inconsistent and contradictory, and inaccessible for teachers. In the ELT world, the teaching methods are being replaced by principled eclecticism and the vague concept of postmethod which seems to be asking too much of teachers, and consequently leading to “the replacement of methods by textbook-
defined practice” (Akbari, 2008, p. 647). What is more, lingua franca English is primarily seen as an essential tool for success in the international knowledge economy. As such, and often taught via the global course book, the focus in ELT is typically on instrumental achievement of defined skills and proficiency levels (Mitchell, 2009). The result of such constraints may be teaching that does not necessarily reflect the teachers’ ideals. The question we all have to face is how a concept of “best practice” survives in the face of such massive and unprecedented innovation (Crystal, 1999). All the changes in the ELT world have generated increasing demand for competent English teachers and for more effective approaches to their preparation and professional development. Unfortunately, most university-based teacher preparation programs are still very academic and remote from the real-life concerns of school. There is obviously still a lot of work to be done to establish a satisfactory framework for teacher education. Nevertheless, it seems that reflective teaching is here to stay as one of the most flexible and useful teacher training designs that we have available to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of language teaching methodology.
References Akbari, R. (2008). Postmethod discourse and practice. TESOL Quarterly, 42(4), 641–652. Balboni, P. E. (2006). The epistemological nature of language teaching methodology. Perugia: Guerra Edizioni. Bolinger, D. (1985). Foreword. In D. J. Bowen, H. Madsen, & A. Hilferty (Eds.), TESOL techniques and procedures (pp. vii–viii). Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum. Borg, S. (2009). Language teacher cognition. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 163–171). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Burns, A., & Richards, J. C. (2009). Introduction: Second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 1–8). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Snow, M. A. (Eds.). (2014). Teaching English as a second or foreign language (4th ed.). Boston, MA: National Geographic Learning. Crookes, G. (2009). Values, philosophies and beliefs in TESOL: Making a statement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crystal, D. (1999). Prologue: The future of Englishes. In C. Kennedy (Ed.), Innovation and best practice (pp. 9–22). Harlow: Longman in association with The British Council. Douthwaite, J. (1991). Teaching English as a foreign language. Torino: Societá Editrice Internazionale. Duff, T. (1988). Introduction. In T. Duff (Ed.), Explorations in teacher training: Problems and issues (pp. v–vii). Harlow: Longman. Freeman, D. (2009). The scope of second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 11–19). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Freeman, D., & Cornwell, S. (Eds.). (1993). New ways in teacher education. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
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Gatenby, E. V. (1952). A direct method English course. London: Longmans, Green. Graves, K. (2009). The curriculum of second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 115–124). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gray, J. (2010). The construction of English: Culture, consumerism and promotion in the ELT global coursebook. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Hall, G. (2011). Exploring English language teaching: Language in action. London: Routledge. Hall, G., & Cook, G. (2012). Own-language use in language teaching and learning. Language Teaching, 45(3), 271–308. Haycraft, J. (1988). The first international preparatory course: An historical overview. In T. Duff (Ed.), Explorations in teacher training: Problems and issues (pp. 1–9). Harlow: Longman. Howatt, A. P. R. (2004). A history of English language teaching (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Johnson, K. E. (2009). Trends in second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 20–29). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kelly, L. G. (1969). 25 centuries of language teaching: 500 BC–1969. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Kumaravadivelu, B. B. (1994). The postmethod condition: (E)merging strategies for second/foreign language teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 28(1), 27–48. Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Littlejohn, A. (1992). Why are English language teaching materials the way they are? Ph.D. dissertation. Lancaster: Lancaster University. Retrieved from http://www.andrewlittlejohn.net/website/ books/Littlejohn%20phd%20chapter%201.pdf. Littlejohn, A. (2012). Language teaching materials and the (very) big picture. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(1), 283–297. Retrieved from http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v9s12012/ littlejohn.pdf. López-Barrios, M., & Villanueva de Debat, E. (2011). From grammar translation to CLT: A retrospective view of course books produced in Argentina. In D. Fernández, A. M. Armendáriz, R. Lothringer, L. Pico, & L. Anglada (Eds.), Communicative language teaching and learning revisited (pp. 21–33). Tucumán: FAAPI. Retrieved from http://www.faapi.org.ar/downloads/ FAAPI2011.pdf. Macaro, E. (2003). Teaching and learning a second language: A guide to recent research and its applications. London: Continuum. Mackey, W. F. (1965). Language teaching analysis. London: Longman. Malderez, A., & Bodoczky, C. (1999). Mentor courses: A resource book for trainer-trainers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McArthur, T. (1983). A foundation course for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mitchell, R. (2009). Foreign language teaching and educational policy. In K. Knapp & B. Seidlhofer (Eds.), Handbook of foreign language communication and learning (Vol. 6, pp. 79–108). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Murphey, T. (1991). Teaching one to one. Harlow: Longman. Nunan, D. (1999). Second language teaching and learning. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle. Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Phillipson, R. (2009). Linguistic imperialism continued. London: Routledge. Prodromou, L., & Mishen, F. (2008). Materials used in Western Europe. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), English language learning materials: A critical review (pp. 193–212). London: Continuum. Richards, J. C. (2002). 30 years of TEFL/TESL: A personal reflection. RELC Journal, 33(2), 1–35. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/003368820203300201. Richards, J. C. (2006). Communicative language teaching today. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richards, J. C. (2015). Key issues in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Roberts, J. (1998). Language teacher education. London: Arnold. Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–23. Soto, M. A. (2014). Post-method pedagogy: Towards enhanced context-situated teaching methodologies. In D. L. Banegas, M. López-Barrios, M. Porto, & M. A. Soto (Eds.), English language teaching in the post-methods era: Selected papers from the 39th FAAPI conference (pp. 39–54). Santiago del Estero: Asociación de Profesores de Inglés de Santiago del Estero. Retrieved from http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/63296/9/WRAP_Banegas_SelectedPapersFAAPI2014ebook.pdf. Spada, N. (2007). Communicative language teaching: Current status and future prospects. In J. Cummins, & C. Davison (Eds.), International handbook of English language teaching. (Part 1, pp. 271–288). New York: Springer. Stern, H. H. (1983). Fundamental concepts of language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Stern, H. H. (1992). Issues and options in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Swales, J. (1993). The English language and its teachers: Thoughts past, present, and future. ELT Journal, 47(4), 283–291. Swan, M. (2012). Thinking about language teaching: Selected articles 1982–2011. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Titone, R. (1968). Teaching foreign languages: An historical sketch. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University School of Languages and Linguistics. Tomlinson, B. (2013). Introduction: Applied linguistics and materials development. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Applied linguistics and materials development (pp. 1–7). London: Bloomsbury. Upadhyay, D. S. (2014). Second language teacher education. Retrieved from http:// upadhyaydevangana1315.blogspot.si/2014/09/second-language-teacher-education-as.html. Ur, P. (1996). A course in language teaching: Practice and theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ur, P. (2012). How useful is TESOL academic research? The Guardian (October 16, 2012). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/oct/16/teacher-tesol-academicresearch-useful. Wallace, M. J. (1991). Training foreign language teachers: A reflective approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wallace, M. (1999). The reflective model revisited. In H. Trappes-Lomax & I. McGrath (Eds.), Theory in language teacher education (pp. 179–189). Harlow: Longman in association with The British Council. Waters, A. (2009). A guide to Methodologia: Past, present, and future. ELT Journal, 63(2), 108–115. Woodward, T. (1988). Loop-input: New strategies for teacher training. Canterbury: Pilgrims.
Repositioning Language Education Theory Achilleas Kostoulas
Abstract This chapter proposes an interdisciplinary, transformation-oriented perspective of theory for language education. This perspective departs from traditional definitions of theory as a corpus of technical knowledge about teaching and learning; rather, language education theory is conceptualized as a heuristic process of meaning-making, and as the emergent understandings of teachers’ professional existence that result from it. Explicitly articulating such understandings is necessary for professional growth, and for challenging invisible processes that sustain structural inequalities in language education. The first part of the chapter describes a conceptual framework for scaffolding language education theory by relating it to the informing disciplines of applied linguistics, language education psychology, and pedagogy. The understandings that emerge from this synthesis are defined as being conservativelyor transformationally-oriented, and the argument is advanced that atomistic perspectives tend to be conservative in outlook. In the second part of the chapter, this argument is extended by suggesting that the emergent understandings are dynamic, and they may be “nudged” towards conservative or transformational directions by new input from the informing disciplines. This is exemplified with reference to examples from linguistics, psychology, and pedagogy. The chapter concludes by problematizing the implications of this perspective for language education.
1 Introduction Since its inception, language teaching has tended to be firmly practical in its orientation and fiercely proud of its independence from theory. This is an outlook that is indexed, in staffroom discourse, in familiar dismissals such as “it is all very well in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” It is also attested in the discourse of the research community, such as the tactfully phrased observation that a survey of A. Kostoulas (B) Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_3
grammar teaching practices “does not reflect an impressive display of uptake from the research literature” (Larsen-Freeman, 2015, p. 271). This sometimes uncritical dismissal of theory by the profession is perhaps justifiably grounded in frustration caused by the rapid turnover of ideas in educational and linguistics research, as well as the unquestioning confidence with which such ideas are promulgated (Edge, 2011). It also seems to connect with the intimidating pace at which the scope of research that purports to inform best practice continues to expand (Medgyes, 2017), placing what is arguably an unreasonable burden on practicing teachers and teacher educators. While acknowledging such concerns, the perspective taken in this chapter departs from the attitudes outlined above, and views them as unhelpful both to teachers as individuals and to the profession as a whole. At the individual level, atheoretical practice deprives teachers from the input and stimuli that might challenge established ways of doing things, and ultimately it hinders professional growth. At the collective level of the profession, an ideology that dismisses the potential of explicitly articulated theoretical beliefs renders language education vulnerable to the encroachment of invisible processes that could, if left unchallenged, undermine our shared values. With these risks in mind, this chapter constitutes an attempt to reposition language teaching theory in a way that addresses the defensible concerns mentioned above, and which affirms its role as an integral part of teaching praxis. Before moving on to describe what such a repositioning might involve, two clarifications seem necessary. The first one regards the way in which the term “theory” is used in this chapter, as it is perhaps different from its usage in lay discourse. Rather than view theory as a set of research-driven facts about language, teachers, learners, and education, I will take the word to term to mean a set of beliefs that bring coherence to what would otherwise be a random sequence of classroom events, as well as a heuristic through which such beliefs are generated. This loose definition encompasses collective and individual ways of making sense of the whats, hows, and whys of our professional existence. Such beliefs are implicit in the practice of every language educator, including those who—like Medgyes (2017)—profess the irrelevance of research for day-to-day teaching practice, and they exist implicitly or explicitly in the ideological context where language education is embedded. The second point that needs to be made concerns the aims of the repositioning project that is suggested in this chapter. At the core of this endeavor is a view of the language teacher as a professional who continuously evolves towards becoming more agentive and increasingly capable of affecting positive change in his or her professional context. This developmental trajectory has been outlined by Edge (2011) as consisting of five aspects. In its simplest form, it involves developing methodological competence through the thoughtful reproduction of good practice. A more elaborate aspect involves developing technical teaching competence, by acquiring insights from research in linguistics, psychology, and pedagogy, and by applying these insights to practice. These two aspects, which correspond to the “craft” and “applied science” modes of teacher education respectively (Wallace, 1991; see also Skela, this volume), serve important purposes, but they seem to limit language teaching professionals to forms of practice that have been defined for them by others. It is
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in this sense that they seem unsuitable for sustaining teacher-driven innovation, and they can be defined as conservatively oriented. The conservative orientation to language education can be contrasted to a transformational outlook, which corresponds to the final three aspects of professional development that Edge (2011) proposes. One of them is theorizing, or developing personal interpretations of one’s professional experience as a language educator. This is complemented by reflecting, or “becoming intellectual” (p. 98), in ways that heighten the practicing teachers’ sensitivity to the effects of ideology, politics, religion, and race on their professional practice. This is a definition that overlaps with Said’s description of public intellectuals in the Reith lectures, namely, as specialists who draw on their expertise to unsettle the status quo by “stirring up debate and, if possible, controversy” (Said, 1993, p. 4). Edge (2011) defines the final aspect of professional development as acting, or becoming pragmatic, in the sense of orienting oneself professionally towards activity that makes a difference. In doing so, he aligns with the axiomatic belief that language education is an applied field, one that is “concerned primarily and pragmatically with practical activities” connected to the teaching and learning of languages (Cumming, 2008, p. 286). These three aspects of professional development involve a way of relating to theoretical knowledge that goes beyond developing methodological and technical competences for language teaching, and enable greater autonomy and agency. This chapter proposes a reconceptualization of language education theory that aims to facilitate the processes of reflection, theorization, and action and thus foster a transformational outlook. To do thisf, in Sect. 2, I define language education theory as a process of synthesizing insights from three informing disciplines, namely applied linguistics, language education psychology, and pedagogy, and as a coherent set of beliefs that emerges from this process. Throughout the section, the argument is made that relational and collectively-oriented perspectives can highlight connections between individual professional activity and professional structures, and they thus tend to have more transformational potential compared to atomistic accounts. Following these observations, in Sect. 3, I discuss the dynamic nature of language education theory. This is done by examining how different theoretical developments in linguistics, psychology, and pedagogy, “perturb” language education theory and nudge it towards more conservative or more transformational perspectives. The chapter concludes, in Sect. 4, with a discussion of possible implications of this perspective for language teacher education.
2 A Conceptual Framework for Language Education Theory An obvious starting point in the endeavor to outline language education theory is to acknowledge the interdisciplinary nature of language education, and to map out the foundational disciplines that inform our professional practice. The inspiration to do
so comes from Stern (1983), who proposed a general conceptual model for second language teaching. In Stern’s model, teaching practice is informed, through the mediation of educational linguistics, by a number of theoretical foundations, namely the history of language teaching, linguistics, sociology (including sociolinguistics and anthropology), psychology and psycholinguistics, and educational theory. Stern’s model represents a conceptual step forward from previous attempts to ground language education on either literary studies or on linguistics alone, but it is open to criticism on two accounts. First, it appears to privilege linguistic perspectives, even when interconnections with other disciplines are acknowledged. Secondly, it lends itself better to use in the “applied science” model of teacher preparation, that aims to develop empirically-informed technical and methodological competences. On the other hand, it is not easy to see how it might inform the processes of reflection, theorizing, and acting (cf. Edge, 2011) and thus facilitate change. There appears therefore to be a need for a theoretical frame that is more balanced and transformation-oriented. The model that forms the cornerstone of this chapter consists of three interpenetrating domains of knowledge, and conceptualizes language education theory as their area of overlap (Fig. 1). The first of these areas is applied linguistics, from which language education derives tentative answers to questions including the nature of language and communication, what the formal features of the target language are, and how the complex interplay of relations among speakers is encoded in linguistic form. The second domain of knowledge that forms part of the model is language education psychology. This is the discipline on which we draw for theoretical tools that help us to better understand the cognitions, emotions and actions of language learners and language teachers, as well as the ways in which these are enacted in diverse contexts. The final component of the model is pedagogical theory, which provides us with knowledge pertaining to the learning context, and raises our awareness of issues of cultural significance and political empowerment. In the next three subsections, I will take a closer look on each of these components.
Fig. 1 Components of language education theory
Repositioning Language Education Theory
2.1 Applied Linguistics Although applied linguistics has been defined as the theoretical and empirical investigation of any real-world situation in which language plays a salient role (Brumfit, 1995), it has traditionally placed great emphasis on supporting language education. Ever since applied linguistics began to emerge as a coherent disciplinary field, the overlap between the interests of applied linguists and language teachers has been such that the two terms were sometimes used synonymously, and many language teacher education programs are often described as “applied linguistics” courses. This overlap has not been entirely unproblematic: For example, Skela (this volume) argues that a perspective of teacher that prioritizes applied linguistics is restrictive, and Phillipson (1992) cynically suggests that very term “applied linguistics” functions as a euphemism designed to disguise the imperialistic agenda of English language teaching. Nevertheless, the contributions made by applied linguistics research have had a great impact on advancing the professionalization of language education (Wallace, 1999). A key reason why applied linguistics research has proved so influential in informing language education has been its very pragmatic orientation. For example, research into contrastive analysis (e.g., James, 1980) and error analysis (e.g., Corder, 1981) was motivated by a desire to minimize learner error through effective syllabus design and teacher preparation. The same can be said about developmental approaches to second language acquisition, such as interlanguage theory (Selinker, 1972), the processability hypothesis (Pienemann, 1998), and more recent work, some of which informed by complexity theory (e.g., Larsen-Freeman, 2006; Spoelman & Verspoor, 2010; Verspoor, Lowie & van Dijk, 2008), which aspired to provide a blueprint of linguistic development with a view to supporting teaching and learning. More recent work in instructed second language acquisition has tended to be more limited in scope (e.g., Benati & Angelovska, 2015; Slabakova, 2013), which perhaps reflects a growing awareness that the complexities of language education preclude ambitious theoretical explanations, but it continues to reflect a commitment to engaging with the challenges of language teaching and learning. Such theoretical contributions are mainly relevant to the aims of developing methodological competences, and are particularly valuable, provided teachers manage to translate them into practically applicable insights. However, from the perspective advanced in this chapter, such insights seem rather less effective in sustaining the theorizing, reflecting, and acting processes that sustain transformation, and they are therefore peripheral to the model of language education that is put forward here. On the other hand, when the attention of applied linguistics research shifts away from the individual learner and focuses on more collective phenomena, there is considerable potential for informing language education theory. For example, World Englishes scholarship (e.g., Kachru, 2006), which aims to describe the varieties of English that are emerging globally, could serve as a prompt for problematizing what varieties of English are most appropriate to teach in specific educational settings. Similarly, insights from sociolinguistics can trigger reflection on the reasons sus-
taining different attitudes towards the diverse varieties of English. Also, teachers might reflect on insights from critical applied linguistics (e.g., Fairclough, 2006; Pennycook, 2001, 2004), linguistic landscapes research (e.g., Blommaert, 2013) and ecolinguistics (e.g., Fill & Penz, 2017) in order to develop understandings of how their professional activity impacts local linguistic ecologies. In other words, the argument that is put forward in this section is that, when it comes to drawing insights from applied linguistics, a repositioning of attention from atomistic accounts of language development to more social perspectives seems to hold considerable potential for productive theorization. Given the nature of education as a social enterprise, this is perhaps not surprising.
2.2 Language Education Psychology The second component of the framework is psychology of education, or more specifically, the subset of psychological research and theory that looks into language teaching and learning. Its relevance stems from the realization that language learning is a relational phenomenon, which brings together a dense web of psychological relations among the learner, the teacher, and the language to be learnt. Although this area of scholarship has been variously described as “language learning psychology,” “psychology of language learning” or “psychology of language learning and teaching,” I use the term “language education psychology” in this chapter, as it seems more useful for emphasizing the close interconnections between teaching and learning, as well as the broader (i.e., non-linguistic) developmental effects associated with learning a new language. Research into language learning and teaching psychology has been especially productive in advancing our understanding of how learners relate to the target language and the process of learning. One of the earliest strands of such work investigated language learning aptitude (e.g., Carroll & Sapon, 1959), which was considered to be a predictor of success in language learning, and was used—controversially—to screen applicants for language courses. Another strand of investigation looked into language learning motivation, by examining the features that distinguished it from other aspects of motivation (e.g., Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Williams & Burden, 1997). Similarly, empirical research has demonstrated the existence of anxiety that is specific to linguistic performance (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986; see also Gkonou, Daubney, & Dewaele, 2017). Another area of research that proved particularly generative is research into language learning strategies, which raised awareness of the behavioral, affective, and cognitive patterns that learners deploy when learning and using a second language (e.g., Oxford, 1990, 2016). Research into psychological phenomena connected to teaching, as opposed to learning, developed at a somewhat slower pace (Mercer & Kostoulas, 2018). Such research has tended to apply to language teachers constructs that had been originally developed to investigate the experience of language learners. For instance, one salient line of research has built on Norton’s (2000) seminal work to examine the identity
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development of language teachers (e.g., Barkhuizen, 2016; De Costa & Norton, 2017; Varghese, Motha, Park, Reeves, & Trent, 2016). Other research has looked into language teacher cognitions, especially with regard to their self-efficacy beliefs (for an overview, see Wyatt, 2018). Another interesting line of scholarship, which extends into organizational psychology, has examined the psychological stressors associated with language teaching (e.g., King, 2016; see also Babi´c & Talbot, this volume). The relatively recent naissance of these strands of inquiry has meant that much empirical work in this field had tended be exploratory, involving case study designs or surveys with small numbers of participants, thus necessitating caution in the use of findings. Moreover, the theoretical insights generated by research have yet to yield meaningful connections to practice (but see Gkonou & Mercer, 2017), and it has not always been possible to substantiate purported claims about the domainspecificity of psychological constructs to language education. However, it is to be expected that once the field reaches a level of maturity, it will usefully complement our existing understanding of the language learning process. As is the case with applied linguistics, a useful distinction can be drawn between atomistic perspectives that focus on intrapersonal processes broadly related to language learning, and perspectives with a more visibly relational orientation, that is, research that foregrounds the interrelations among content, learners, and teachers in the context of language education. While both approaches can produce valuable insights, the former is limited in two important ways. Firstly, intrapersonal perspectives suggest both the permanence and the dominance of the individual characteristics associated with the process of learning and teaching a language, and in doing so they risk essentializing the people under study. It is important to remember that a “language learner” is a language learner only in the context of learning a language, and this is likely to be just one of multiple ways in which they perceive and define themselves; of course, the same applies to language teachers. This suggests that attempts to investigate psychological phenomena as trait-like characteristics, and relate them to researcher-assigned categories (e.g. “English teacher”) may be conceptually flawed, unless the phenomenological validity of these categories can be empirically established. By contrast, theoretical accounts that seek to understand how psychological aspects emerge in the teaching and learning context are likely to be more robust and phenomenologically valid, as well as better suited to the needs of language education psychology. The second potential problem associated with atomistic outlooks is they are potentially reductive. Most phenomena in language education are produced by the complex interactions among inter- and intrapersonal processes. An attempt to understand any such process in isolation, or even reduce it to static traits for the purposes of measurement, runs the risk of “destroy(ing) what it seeks to understand” (Cilliers, 1998, p. 2). Some examples of such links would be the ways in which collective ideology about language, learning, and education might entrain teaching and learning, or the ways in which the professional activity of individual teachers might reinforce or challenge structural elements of the educational context. It is in this sense, especially, that atomistic perspectives seem professionally unhelpful in fostering transformation.
To summarize, research into language education psychology has helpfully advanced our understanding of the interactions between learners, teachers, and linguistic content. An understanding of such interactions forms an inextricable component of language education theory, especially if it focusses on the contextualized activity of language teachers and.
2.3 Pedagogical Theory The third component of the theoretical framework is pedagogy, and it refers to the influences on language education theory stemming from the educational ideologies and structures in which language teaching and learning is embedded. Such influences can be traced in multiple areas of language education, such as the design of learning activities (e.g., Ellis, 2018; Willis & Willis, 2007) and the structure of syllabuses (e.g., Woodward, 2001), in language testing research (e.g., Bachman, 1990; Weir, 2005) or in research about learner autonomy (e.g., Benson, 2013). Other examples of such connectivity are visible in projects that integrate language learning with other curricular areas (Nikula, Dafouz, Moore, & Smit, 2016; see also Tatzl, this volume), or proposals to use language learning to foster aims like multicultural awareness (e.g., Fay, Lytra, & Ntavaliagkou, 2010), intercultural comprehension (e.g., Byram, 2008; see also Mewald, this volume) or critical media awareness (Benesch, 2006). A full listing of the aspects of language education that have been germinated by insights from education theory would be not be feasible within the scope of this chapter; nor is it expedient given the chapter’s purpose, which is to move relocate language education theory from the technical aspects of teaching and learning towards transformationoriented aspects that are at least as important and probably less visible. A common thread uniting many of these pedagogical recommendations is that mastery of languages, especially colonial ones and particularly English, is likely to ameliorate the living conditions of learners. This assumption is often held axiomatically, and not subjected to critical examination, although there is a small number of studies that have attempted to quantify such benefits in terms of GDP growth, poverty reduction, and increased democratization (for an extended discussion, see Erling & Seargeant, 2018). Such thinking has been the driving force behind the intensification of (English) language teaching globally, which has led to phenomena like the proliferation of English language programs at increasingly young ages (for examples of good practice and some theoretical discussion, see Bland, 2015), the encroachment of English in other curricular areas through Content and Language Integrated Learning and English Medium Instruction, the prevalence of monolingual teaching practices, and the advantages ascribed to teachers with a target language native-speaker background. Whether such educational policies and the ideology they index reduces or accentuates inequalities globally remains an open question (Brumfit, 2006; Canagarajah, 1999; Phillipson, 1992). A related point concerns the provenance of the pedagogical suggestions listed above, and particularly the “learning group ideal” (Holliday, 1994, p. 54), of which
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the origins can be traced to the educational traditions of Anglophone countries. The learning group ideal indexes the belief that learning is most effective when it involves skill-based, discovery-oriented learning, and collaboration among students. It provides the theoretical underpinning of most current approaches and methods in language education, such as communicative language teaching, task-based learning and teaching, and more. The validity of the learning group ideal has come under sustained criticism, especially by academics working from a critical perspective, who have pointed out that is not always compatible with local educational traditions (e.g., Holliday, 1994, 2006), and that such forms of “scholastic hegemony” devalue local forms of knowledge (Kumaravadivelu, 2006a). However, it seems that it remains unchallenged, at least in its representation in the professional literature, if not in actual practice (Kostoulas, 2018). In place of such monolithic ways of understanding pedagogy, a theory of language education is better served by a nuanced understanding of how pedagogical considerations can be brought to bear on the teaching and learning of languages. In such a perspective, the economical imperatives that sustain the intensification of teaching are balanced with considerations of culture and heritage, whereas the (probably futile) quest for universally effective methods of teaching and learning is replaced by forms of pedagogy that are responsive to the diversity of local context. Such a pedagogical position, which is sometimes summarized as “postmethod pedagogy,” typically postulates a set of general principles and values that are considered core to the mandate of language education, but suggests that the best way to enact such principles depends on the local context. For example, Kumaravadivelu (2006b) proposes ten macro-strategies, which are held to be universal, such as integrating language skills, promoting autonomy, and ensuring the social relevance of language teaching, and goes on to suggest that the specific micro-strategies that are used for their implementation should be guided by the teachers’ observations, reflections, and analyses of their teaching contexts. Such a theoretical position highlights the role of values and the ways in which these are reflected in language education. For example, it raises questions about how language education reflects educational policy, by influencing which aspects of social structure are reproduced and which ones are transformed. It can also prompt reflection regarding the roles of different languages in the social ecosystem. More pressingly, it can be also used as a starting point for problematizing how language education can help learners deal with cultural diffusion and increasingly complex demographic changes, tasks for which the educational models that served the nation state no longer appear adequate; or how language education can be optimized to foster prosocial behavior and sustainable peace (Birch, 2009). In brief, pedagogy, the final component of the conceptual framework for language education, could encompass either a corpus of technical advice designed to increase the methodological sophistication of language teachers, or it could be used as an instrument to initiate and sustain problematization about the aims, methods, and effects of language teaching. In the latter case, which is closer to the position advocated in this chapter, it helps language teachers to reflect on the role of language
education, especially as it concerns English, and on ways in which globalizing influences can be mitigated with the use of locally appropriate pedagogical responses.
2.4 An Interdisciplinary Perspective To reiterate, the proposed framework for language education theory brings together theoretical insights and research findings from the domains of (applied) linguistics, (language education) psychology, and pedagogy. Some salient questions that are derived from each domain are summarized in Table 1. A theory for language education involves both the engagement with such questions and our current best attempt to answer them at a level of abstraction that is appropriate to our needs. In other words, this framework can be used to produce personally relevant understandings for individual teachers, as well as more abstract accounts that are more appropriate to professional communities. Although such answers might be implicit, their explicit articulation is likely to facilitate reflection, theorization, and—eventually—critical action that aims to transform language education. It should be noted that developing a coherent theory for language education involves more than merely aggregating the insights provided by the three informing disciplines. Rather, it necessitates a meaningful synthesis of linguistic, psychological, and educational perspectives. Although articulated in a context somewhat removed from language education, the following quote by the French philosopher Deleuze succinctly encapsulates what such an interdisciplinary perspective involves:
Table 1 Overview of potential directions for language education theory Informing discipline
• What varieties of English are most appropriate to teach in different educational settings? • Why do we have different attitudes towards different varieties of English? • What are the effects on local linguistic ecologies when English language programs are implemented?
Language education psychology
• • • •
• How can language education best support the values of the education system as a whole? • How can language education help learners deal with cultural diffusion and increasingly complex demographic changes? • How can we foster knowledge of non-violent forms of communication and action?
How do learners relate to the target language? How do teachers relate to the target language? How do teachers and learners relate to each other? How do all of the above connect to learning the target language?
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The encounter between two disciplines doesn’t take place where one begins to reflect on the other, but when one discipline realizes that it has to resolve, for itself and by its own means, a problem similar to the one confronted by the other. (Deleuze, 1986, p. 387)
In other words, the range of issues to which the informing disciplines have applied themselves does not provide us with a warrant for their indiscriminate inclusion in our theory, unless they can meaningfully complement each other. For example, the linguistic insights that can most usefully be incorporated in a theory of language education are those that help us to understand psychological and educational processes of language learning and teaching. Similarly, the aspects of psychology that interest us particularly are those that enrich our understanding of what hinders and what facilitates the learning and teaching of languages. Finally, from the corpus of knowledge that is education theory, the aspects that are most relevant to our needs are those that help us to understand how individuals and groups relate to language and how they use it in instructional settings and beyond them. With this caveat in mind, in the next section I will look into the ways the framework can be used to help understand the conservative or transformational potential of developments in the informing disciplines.
3 Transforming Practice In the previous section, a conceptual framework for language education theory was put forward, and the argument was made that theoretical awareness and active reflection can drive transformations in the ways that languages are taught and learnt. In this section, the argument is advanced further, by highlighting the dynamical nature of the conceptual framework, and illustrating how it can influence practice. I begin this discussion by describing how understandings of language education, viewed as dynamic conceptualizations, might occupy a range of positions in an imagined space ranging from conservative to transformational, and then I go on to describe how three theoretical “perturbations” might drive these understandings towards different directions in this continuum.
3.1 Conservative and Transformative Orientations In the conceptual framework that was put forward in Sect. 2, language education theory was described as an interdisciplinary act of synthesizing linguistic, psychological, and pedagogical perspectives. The interaction of these perspectives produces theoretical accounts that represent language teachers’ attempts to make sense of their professional context. As Edge (2011, p. 80) reminds us, “the important issue” with these formulations “is not one of complexity, or even originality,” but rather “their importance lies in the individual (or group) attempt to take responsibility for putting
into words the current state of awareness and understanding with which one is operating.” To further extend the point Edge made, the importance of these formulations also lies in their potential to raise awareness of mismatches between the current, potential, and desired states of affairs, and thus act as triggers for change. In order to better understand the potential of language education theory to drive change, it may be helpful to conceptualize the emergent understandings that teachers articulate as existing in a metaphorical continuum, which spans a range of positions from conservative to transformative. Drawing on the vocabulary of complex systems theory, this continuum constitutes the “state space” (Kostoulas, 2018) within which the emergent understandings materialize. Positions at the conservative side of the continuum represent potential understandings that are likely to reinforce the current state of affairs, and—as was hinted in the previous section—these tend to be associated with an outlook that reproduces existing good practice, or focuses exclusively on technical competence. On the other hand, positions at the transformative side of the continuum are reserved for understandings that generate novel ways of teaching and learning, through processes of reflecting, theorizing and acting. Depending on our focus, the transformative potential of such understandings might be expressed as professional development, when viewed at the level of the individual teacher; when thinking of the small culture level, it might be experienced as structural reform of the professional context; and when thinking of the profession as a whole, it could take the form of paradigmatic shifts (for a discussion of scales in language education, see also Kostoulas & Stelma, 2016). Up to this point, emergent understandings have been described in terms that suggested a static positioning within the continuum. While this was expedient for reasons of expository simplicity, it is important to remember that these understandings are constantly evolving, and are responsive to both classroom experience and novel theoretical input. To better illustrate this, I will now move on to discuss how three theoretical “perturbations” might “nudge” language education theory in either direction of the state space continuum.
3.2 Conservative and Transformative Influences I have drawn the examples of developments that might generate theoretical reconfigurations from all three disciplines domains that contribute to language education theory, namely linguistics, psychology, and pedagogy, in order to highlight the vibrancy of breakthroughs that are carried out in the feeder disciplines. These examples have also been purposefully selected to showcase both conservative and transformative impulses. I have chosen to focus my description the collective level of language education as a global phenomenon, in an attempt to resonate with the experiences of a wider readership, but readers may want to refer to Constantino (this volume) for an example of theorization leading to more personally relevant understandings.
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L2 Multicanonicity While much of language education serves the obvious purpose of facilitating communication across linguistic borders, Phillipson (1992) has also alerted us to the opaque ways in which the teaching of colonial languages preserves unequal distributions of power, both between the hegemonic west and the colonized, and between western-oriented local elites and the subaltern. This belief is hidden in plain sight in constructs like the standard language ideology, the axiomatic belief that language education should adopt as its linguistic model the variety used by the “social group with the highest degree of power, wealth and prestige” (Trudgill, 2002, p. 124). This has ensured that the linguistic markers that index social divisions remain in place even in the discourse of well-meaning attempts to provide “the least fortunate” with the linguistic resources that, it is hoped, will save them from “the least rewarding careers” (Quirk, 1990, p. 9). Set against the standard language ideology, there is a range of theoretical developments that have expanded our conceptualization of what might constitute an appropriate model for language education. For example, scholarship in the World Englishes tradition (e.g., Kachru, 2017) has argued convincingly for the local relevance of institutionalized varieties of English, such as Indian or Singaporean English. Similarly, English as a Lingua Franca research (e.g., Seidlhofer, 2011) and its recent pedagogical interpretations (Matsuda, 2017; Sifakis & Tsantila, 2018) have called for increased teacher sensitivity to the implications of their linguistic choices. In this sense, one might argue that breakthroughs connected to the conceptualization of language in language education are transformatively oriented. Positive Psychology As discussed in Sect. 2.3, much of the psychological research carried out in language education has tended to grow organically out of issues directly relevant to the processes of learning (and, to a lesser extent, teaching). In recent years, this focus has shifted to include not only classroom-focused phenomena, but also psychological aspects of teachers and learners qua individuals, which are often examined through the lens of positive psychology (e.g., Gabry´s-Barker, & Gałajda, 2016; MacIntyre, Gregersen, & Mercer, 2016). Positive psychology has been imported to language education from mainstream psychology, where it was originally developed as a reaction to a perceived preoccupation with problem-based thinking (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Alongside a neoliberal priority of maximizing the wellbeing of individuals and capitalizing on personal strengths, positive psychologists called for a methodological re-orientation from phenomenological approaches to understanding, which were argued to be unscientific, to experimental and statistical techniques (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), commonly using constructs that are mainly relevant to Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) populations (Rich, 2017) and Judeo-Christian ethics (Lazarus, 2003). In language education, scholarship that has been informed by positive psychology has tended to be more balanced in its methodological approaches, and it has to date avoided the embarrassments associated with overambitious statements, such as the discredited “positivity ratio” (Brown, Sokal, & Friedman, 2013; Fredrickson & Losada, 2005, 2013). However, the neoliberal thinking that underpins positive psychology, its western heritage, and its definitional enmity to critical engagement with
negative experience are all in alignment with the ideologies that reinforce the status quo of the profession, and thus likely to produce conservative theoretical orientations. Early Foreign Language Learning The increasing flows of goods, ideas and populations that has been associated with globalization has been inextricably linked with the intensification of language teaching provision. In the case of English, in particular, there are increasing pressures for early foreign language learning, sometimes extending to pre-school education (for an overview, see Enever & Lindgren, 2017). Driving such developments is a nexus of ideological assumptions, including the belief that linguistic capital can be translated into economic value, the folk linguistic confidence that an early start in language education will always lead to better educational outcomes, and the sociolinguistically uninformed view that languages are politically neutral (“(English) has no ability to do things by itself, nor does it bear the responsibility for its state of being,” Dendrinos, 2009, p. 181). In such cases, explicit engagement with theoretical propositions can have a transformational effect, as most of these assumptions have come under critical scrutiny from a variety of disciplines. For example, Pfenninger and Singleton (2017) provide a robust empirically-informed critique of the linguistic benefits of early foreign language start, and Seargeant and Erling (2018) summarize research that casts doubts on the narratives that link economic success with English language education. Perhaps more importantly, however, questions are raised about the tensions between any potential benefits that early language learning might have for individuals, and the societal effects of widescale early foreign language programs, such as the disruption of local language ecologies, or the widening of achievement gaps between affluent and financially disadvantaged learners. Bruthieux, for example, notes that such programs often constitute waste of scarce public funds, and are usually of “outlandish irrelevance” to the majority of the disenfranchised that they purport to serve (2002, p. 292). Although critical commentary has failed to challenge the problematic aspects of early foreign language learning, an increased awareness of its effects can be argued to have transformational potential. To summarize, in this section we looked into three examples of theoretical developments, which could potentially shift the theoretical understandings towards conservative or transformational directions. In some cases, such theoretical breakthroughs can drive innovation in the way language teachers think about their professional practice, as was the case with the linguistic scholarship that challenges the standard language ideology. In other cases, like the importation of positive psychology in language education theory, an uncritical adoption of such theoretical perspectives could lead to conservative impulses. And finally, empirical work and scholarship could act as a counterbalance to conservative trends, as was the case with the critical examination of Early Language Learning initiatives. In all cases, increasing theoretical awareness, which was described above as a developmental trajectory from relatively unreflective practice to reflection, theorization, and—ultimately—informed action, seems necessary in order for teachers to develop from being passive agents to having more active control of their professional lives.
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4 Repositioning Theory: Final Remarks In this chapter, an argument was advanced for repositioning language education theory. Rather than viewing it as a corpus of technical knowledge about teaching and learning, on which teachers can draw in order to develop their methodological competence, language education theory can be usefully reconceptualized as an interdisciplinary frame of thinking about the values, assumptions, and implications associated with language, psychology, and education. Such a frame, it was argued, acts as a heuristic, which enables the generation of emergent, situated, and contextually relevant understandings of professional practice. These understandings were described as dynamic entities, which occupy a position in a space ranging from conservative to transformational positionalities, and it was suggested that theoretical insights could move these understandings towards different directions within the space they occupy. One question with which I have not engaged in this chapter, but which I would now like to offer for consideration, is how such a view of language education theory might be used to inform language teacher education. Unlike methodological competence, which can be taught through demonstration and exegesis, the processes of reflection, theorization, and action are more challenging to direct. Such processes, it could be argued, consist of acts of framing and interpreting input. However, if these acts are directed by teacher-educators, there is a risk of alienating the teachers that are being educated. Edge (2011) narrates the criticism from a participant in a teaching methodology course, who complained that that “All you have taught me is a lot of new words for talking about what I do anyway” (p. 24). And yet, acquiring new words and new concepts for the familiar, or developing what Giroux would have called a “discourse of educated hope” (2011, p. 11), is exactly the first aim of such a repositioning move. The next steps, of course, would be: to recognize the potential of such words and concepts for generating novel ways of understanding, other than those dictated by teacher education; to realize this potential by using such words, constructs, and understandings to develop original forms of professional action; and—ultimately—to assert responsibility for, and ownership of, our professional existence.
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Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pienemann, M. (1998). Language processing and second language development: Processability theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Quirk, R. (1990). Language varieties and standard language. English Today, 21(1), 3–10. Rich, G. J. (2017). The promise of qualitative inquiry for positive psychology: Diversifying methods. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(3), 220–231. Seargeant, P., & Erling, E. J. (2018). Introduction: English and development. In E. J. Erling & P. Seargeant (Eds.), English and development: Policy, pedagogy and globalisation (pp. 1–20). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Said, E. (1993). Representations of an intellectual: Professionals and amateurs (Reith Lectures 1993, Lecture 4). Retrieved from http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/radio4/transcripts/1993reith4.pdf. Seidlhofer, B. (2011). Understanding English as a lingua franca. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14. Selinker, L. (1972). Interlanguage. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 10, 209–232. Sifakis, N., & Tsantila, N. (Eds.). (2018). English as a lingua franca for EFL contexts. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Slabakova, R. (2013). What is easy and what is hard to acquire in a second language: A generative perspective. In M. d. P. Garcia Mayo, M. J. Gutierrez Mangado, & M. Martínez Adrian (Eds.), Contemporary approaches to second language acquisition (pp. 5–29). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Spoelman, M., & Verspoor, M. (2010). Dynamic patterns in development of accuracy and complexity: A longitudinal case study in the acquisition of Finnish. Applied Linguistics, 31(4), 532–553. Stern, H. H. (1983). Fundamental concepts of language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Trudgill, P. (2002). Standard language: What it isn’t. In T. Bex & R. J. Watts (Eds.), Standard English: The widening debate (pp. 117–128). London: Routledge. Verspoor, M., Lowie, W., & Van Dijk, M. (2008). Variability in second language development from a dynamic systems perspective. The Modern Language Journal, 92(2), 214–231. Varghese, M. M., Motha, S., Park, G., Reeves, J., & Trent, J. (Eds.). (2016). Language teacher identity in (multi)lingual educational contexts (Special issue). TESOL Quarterly, 50(3). Wallace, M. (1999). The reflective model revisited. In H. Trappes-Lomax, & I. McGrath (Eds.), Theory in language teacher education (pp. 179–189). Harlow: Longman in association with The British Council. Wallace, M. J. (1991). Training foreign language teachers: A reflective approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Weir, C. J. (2005). Language testing and validation. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Williams, M., & Burden, R. (1997). Psychology for language teachers: A social constructivist approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Willis, D., & Willis, J. (2007). Doing task-based teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Woodward, T. (2001). Planning lessons and courses: Designing sequences of work for the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wyatt, M. (2018). Language teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs: An introduction. In S. Mercer & A. Kostoulas (Eds.), Language teacher psychology (pp. 122–140). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
An Ecological Perspective for Critical Action in Applied Linguistics Juup Stelma and Richard Fay
Abstract In this chapter, we argue that critical perspectives focused on resisting oppression fail to recognize the stratified nature of language education and applied linguistics ecologies. In human ecologies, power is conceded as much as it is taken, and “unjust” orders are generated by stakeholder action on all levels. Our ecological alternative suggests that individuals and groups on all levels of an applied linguistics ecology should problematize normative assumptions (implicit theories held by the majority), develop enhanced understanding of what is happening, and use this understanding to become more purposeful—all the while remaining open to, and supportive of, others within the ecology developing their own unique intentionality. We exemplify this critical-intentional perspective through an analysis of how universities, located in non-English speaking contexts, appear to respond to the hegemony of English as the global academic language, as well as a contrasting analysis of how the Nordic notion of Parallel Language Use may represent a critical-intentional response to this situation of hegemony. We conclude by suggesting that the ecological perspective on critical action, involving actors on all levels of an ecology, may be our best opportunity to transform unjust orders in language education and applied linguistics.
1 Introduction In this chapter, we develop an ecological perspective for critical action in situations and contexts of interest to Applied Linguistics (henceforth AL), including but not limited to language education, where issues of language use, practice, and policy are a principal concern. Our ecological thinking is based on the view that “both the J. Stelma (B) · R. Fay Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M139PL, United Kingdom e-mail: [email protected] R. Fay e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_4
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nature of the world and human sense making are dynamic and emergent” (Kuhn, 2008, p. 174). It recognizes not only traditional ecological relationships of stakeholders and their social, pedagogical, and material environments. It recognizes, also, that AL situations involve human activities, which are defined by stakeholders’ individual and collective agency (or lack thereof). As such, and building on existing critical scholarship, our ecological perspective identifies and challenges the boundaries between language use, practice, and policy based on normative assumptions (implicit theories held by the majority)—which may constrain emancipation and transformation—and language use, practice, and policy based on understanding and purpose, or what we call intentionality. The paper begins with a review of established critical approaches in AL. A second section develops our ecological perspective, thus outlining the theoretical bases of what we mean by critical-intentional action. We draw on the ecological principle of mutualism, intentional dynamics that give rise to affordances and action, the interplay of agency on different levels, and normative assumptions as a means to understand the limits of agency. This second section also includes an analysis of the nature of power, and the role of diversity to distribute power. The final substantive section uses the ecological perspective to analyze the responses of universities, located in nonEnglish speaking contexts, but seeking to benefit from the affordances of English being the language of global academia. We also include a contrasting analysis of how the Nordic notion of Parallel Language Use may represent a critical-intentional response to the dominance of English as the global academic language. The chapter concludes by suggesting that critical-intentional action may be our best opportunity to challenge unjust orders, and the normative assumptions that underpin these orders.
2 Critical Perspectives and Applied Linguistics A number of critical perspectives have emerged in the discipline of AL. One early perspective is “critical thinking,” or what we will call the critical-cognitive perspective. John Dewey’s frequently cited definition of “reflective thought” offers a starting point for understanding this perspective. Dewey (1910, p. 6) suggested that “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends, constitutes reflective thought.” Somewhat less cited is what he adds subsequently, that reflective thought is an “effort to establish belief upon a firm basis of reasons” (p. 6). Thus, critical thinking, in this tradition, may be defined as “considering an issue from multiple perspectives … (and) being able to identify assumptions and evaluate evidence and issues logically” (Banegas & Villacañas de Castro, 2016, p. 455). It is informative to consider both what is assumed and what is excluded in Dewey’s definition of reflective thought. Notable assumptions include the privileging of rational (cognitive) categories such as knowledge, belief, and reason. Excluded, however, is any consideration of feelings, emotions or inter-personal categories, such as expectations, which also contribute to cognitive activity (Stelma, 2011). Atkinson’s (1997)
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critique of “critical thinking” for the foreign/second language classroom touches on these omissions. He suggests that critical thinking may not be quite as rational as it is sometimes claimed to be. Instead, he suggests critical thinking may be akin to a social practice which young people may learn “though the pores” as they grow up in a particular cultural milieu (p. 73), and hence that it may be “beyond the capability of most teachers to teach them (i.e., critical thinking skills) in more than an anecdotal and hit-or-miss way” (p. 77). Atkinson also critiques the reductive and detached nature of critical thinking, contrasting it with more emotive and connected ways of thinking. Thus, he suggests, thinking will differ depending on whether young people are socialized into either more individualistic or more collective cultures. He makes a similar point about the role of language in critical thinking. He suggests that the use of language to enable and structure meaning-making is a “Western” practice that should not exclude consideration of alternative ways to make meaning, such as observation. To us, this highlights a need for our ecological perspective to avoid privileging one set of social practices and values over another. Our focus on intentional dynamics, to be outlined below, is precisely a search for diverse values that may guide thinking in context. More recent critical work in AL departs significantly from the critical-cognitive perspective. One aspect of later work is a concern to “remake the connections between discourse, language learning, language use, and the social and political contexts in which these occur” (Pennycook, 2004, p. 796). This critical focus on context has given rise to useful conceptual metaphors, such as “tissue-rejection” to describe how a language teaching method (the tissue), originally from one educational context (the originating body), cannot be used in, or transplanted to, a different educational context (another body) without the risk of it being rejected by teachers and learners in this other context (tissue rejection) (Holliday, 1992). This critical-contextual perspective has included theorization of a variety of socio-cultural dimensions of context, and in the case of language education there is a concomitant rejection of context-independent constructions of “best methods” in favor of teachers, with their local knowledge of their socio-cultural contexts, being the arbitrators of method-incontext (Kumaravadivelu, 2006). Finally, this critical-contextual perspective highlights how there may be stakeholders working on different levels of AL ecologies, and also that there may be more global structures that shape the experience of local actors. Another strand of recent critical work is the field of Critical Applied Linguistics, which seeks to problematize normative assumptions that shape situations and contexts of interest to AL. Pennycook (2004) describes Critical Applied Linguistics “as a way of thinking and doing that is always problematizing” (p. 803). Central to this perspective is Freire’s (1968/2005) philosophically grounded argument about the “concrete historical fact” of working and middle-class people being subject to oppression, or dehumanization, by “unjust orders” in 1960s Brazil. He suggested that dehumanization is “the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed” (p. 44). The “unjust orders” that we commonly encounter in AL may be less visibly violent than the Brazilian situation that motivated Freire. Nevertheless, this critical-humanistic perspective has convinc-
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ingly identified possible language-related contexts of oppression. A salient example is the work of Phillipson (1992), who analyzed a situation of “linguistic imperialism,” with the English language in a hegemonic position in the global system. It also includes work focused on how dominant social orders, as indexed by language-asdiscourse, may have a powerful subjugating impact on individuals’ identity. This includes Norton’s (2000) study of female immigrant learners in Canada developing identities through their “investment” in a new language, and Canagarajah’s (1993) description of Tamil tertiary students negotiating what parts of the curriculum to engage with, and what parts to ignore. In both cases, the dominant forms of Englishas-discourse positioned these language learners vis-à-vis more powerful orders, and their learning journey included finding ways to engage with the English language in ways more aligned with their own sense of national and ethnic identity. Finally, Kumaravadivelu’s (2006) critique of method shows how the critical-contextual and the critical-humanistic perspectives may align. Kumaravadivelu argues that language education professionals need to explore the intersection of the particularity of context, the practicality of teacher action-in-context, and how teachers’ and learners’ positions in applicable social orders may limit their freedom. Kumaravadivelu is particularly concerned about the socio-political impediments that prevent language learners from “realizing their full human potential” (2006, p. 177), and how, then, teachers may support the development of what he calls “liberatory autonomy.” It is hard to argue against the value of autonomy for liberation, and we will not do so. We are concerned, however, about how analysis in the critical-humanistic perspective privileges the action of stakeholders that are otherwise weak within the social and linguistic order they find themselves in (e.g., learners from the global South or East learning the language of a dominant Western power). The criticalhumanistic perspective puts all its stock in the transformative action of the weak (e.g., the learner) possibly with some help from a middle class intellectual (e.g., a teacher). It is unwilling to accord any transformative role to the powerful Other. This view can be traced back to Freire (1968/2005), who stated that: the oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. (p. 44)
Thus, except for the possibility of solidarity, which we will discuss in a later section, Freire allowed little or no focus on what contribution might be made by those with, or in, power. Anticipating the ecological theorizing of the next section, we will suggest that a critical perspective that is singularly focused on challenging power and hegemony fails to recognize the stratified intentional dynamics of human ecologies. We accept what is implied by Freire, that in human ecologies power is “conceded” as much as it is “taken,” that being human is to live in a “just order,” that a “just order” is one where everyone is able to freely express their humanity, and that such a “just order” is desirable. However, and while addressing also Freire’s conceptualization of solidarity, we will argue that we express our humanity through intentional acts, informed by understanding and purpose of various forms, and that transformation
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towards a “just order” is best achieved if all stakeholders, whatever their position of power in the ecology, become more intentional.
3 Features the Ecological Perspective Our ecological perspective on critical action has developed from a number of recent contributions, by the authors and colleagues, working to understand the intentional ecology of both language education and related AL situations. This includes understanding the development of shared intentionality in language classroom interaction (Kostoulas & Stelma, 2016; Stelma, 2014), how socio-professional intentionalities shape L2 curricular innovation (Kostoulas, 2018; Kostoulas & Stelma, 2017), the impact of socio-political intentionalities on primary English language education (Stelma, Onat-Stelma, Lee, & Kostoulas, 2015), the development of researcher intentional action (Stelma, 2011; Stelma & Fay, 2014), and understanding the intentional dynamics of researching multilingually (Stelma, Fay, & Zhou, 2013). Recently, we extended our ecological thinking to critical action (Fay & Stelma, 2016), suggesting that becoming more intentional was central to critical action. In this chapter we extend this work to include the issues of power, agency, and diversity, which we believe are central to contemporary critical work in AL. This section starts by outlining the principle of mutuality in ecological theory, as well as how this mutuality is constituted by affordances for action in situations. This is followed by an introduction to the concept of intentionality, including how it integrates into a mutualist perspective and how it involves the dimensions of understanding and purpose. Next, we look at the notion of intentional dynamics, including how normative assumptions may hold particular attraction and may inordinately shape AL situations. Towards the end of the section, we address the linked constructs of power, agency, solidarity, and diversity.
3.1 Mutuality, Affordances and Situations The starting point for our ecological theorizing is the principle of mutuality in ecological psychology, and its genesis in human perception and action. Humans perceive information “encoded” in their environment, this information “presents” affordances to act in this or that way, and this gives rise to activity (Gibson, 1979). Moreover, ongoing activity gives rise to new states of individual-environment mutuality, the perception of additional information, further affordances, and the potential, then, for further action. Later ecological theorizing extends the mutualist perspective to social processes, suggesting that “mind, body and environment cannot be understood in isolation, but are constructions from the flow of purposive activity in the world” (Good, 2007, p. 269). Trying to understand the affordances of social situations, Chemero’s (2003, p. 185) suggests that “affordances are features of whole
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situations,” with situations representing a dynamic coming together of a range of individual and socio-contextual shaping influences. However, in order to understand the role of language in social situations, our focus needs to shift to semiotic forms of information. Reed (2014, p. 56) has proposed that “informative structures, created by people for communicative purposes, provide the bases for different kinds of cognition.” This is consistent with Aronin and Singleton’s (2010) suggestion that more developed linguistic competence, or ability to perceive linguistic informative structures used for communicative purposes, enhances the perception of affordances to communicate in the world. Add to this, language indexes also identity, emotions, interpersonal relationships, culture and more, and language users have the ability to access and create meanings beyond those present only in language (Kramsch, 2008). Thus, whilst needing to function within a mutualist perspective, and able to specify affordances, we need a conceptualization of information that captures a fuller range of phenomena, cognitive, emotional, and social. For this we turn to the concept of intentionality.
3.2 Intentionality The ordinary sense of intentionality is “being purposeful,” and this is a sense that we also adopt. However, we combine this with two broader senses of intentionality, signifying how we are connected, in ways that we perceive as meaningful, with others and our environment. Our use of intentionality to mean being purposeful is motivated by the philosopher Daniel Dennett and his “Intentional Stance” (1987). Dennett contrasts the intentional stance with the physical stance (e.g., description of physical processes) and the design stance (architectural descriptions). He suggests that the intentional stance is the only one that goes beyond description and explanation, affording, in addition, the ability to predict what may follow. This meaning of intentionality is established in mainstream cognitive science where there is a particular interest in the cognitive and social antecedents of intentions (Malle, Moses, & Baldwin, 2001). There is also an interest in the functional properties of intentions, such as that of Bruner (1981) when he suggests that, an intention is present when an individual operates persistently towards achieving an end state, persists in developing means and corrects the development of means to get closer to the end state, and finally ceases the line of activity when specifiable features of the end state are achieved. (p. 41)
A focus on the ordinary meaning of intentionality is established, also, in ecological psychology, including research in classroom contexts (Barab, Cherkes-Julkowski, Swenson, Garrett, Shaw, & Young, 1999), in technological learning environments (Young, DePalma, & Garrett, 2002) and in researcher education (Stelma, 2011; Stelma & Fay, 2014). In this ecological work, the focus is on how context—the ecology—constrains and enables intentions-in-action (see also Juarrero, 1999).
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Our broader sense of intentionality, signifying how we connect with others and our environment, is based on the work of Searle (1983). Searle draws on, and in part subverts, the early phenomenological definition of intentionality (Brentano, 1874/1995), to suggest that psychological states (love, anger, belief, and more) are “about” either another psychological state or some object, or state of the external physical or social environment. Thus, for Searle, the aboutness of psychological states (i.e., the intentional character of the psychological) connects us in meaningful ways to the world. For instance, a teacher may believe that a class should be conducted entirely in the English language. This belief may be cognitively based, but may also have been informed by, and hence be “about,” actual learners in an actual classroom that the teacher has taught. Crucially, all psychological states, including more emotive states such as love, anger, and so on, have this aboutness, or intentionality, and potentially connect us to others and the world around us. This broader sense of intentionality, or how we are connected, includes shared intentionality, intentionality encoded in the environment itself, as well as hybrid forms of intentionality. We, as intentional beings, are able to perceive something about the intentionality of others. Tomasello, Carpenter, Call, Behne, and Moll (2005) suggest that the ability to have shared intentionality with others develops in the first two years of life, when children are able to internalize into their own psychological states “something of the goals and intentions of the other” (p. 680). This, then, is the basis for groups of individuals to have shared values—that is, to share intentionality. Furthermore, intentionality, or aboutness, may be embedded in the broader environment. Searle (1983) proposes that as we create objects in the real world our intentionality becomes embedded in these objects. This is perhaps most evident with texts, which are composed of language that, on various levels (word, sentence, paragraph, and discourse) has aboutness. There are also hybrid forms of intentionality, such as the intentionality of professional or social traditions and practices, which arise from the interaction between individual, shared, and embedded forms of intentionality. Professional intentionalities of applied linguistics, such as “communicative language teaching” and “conversation analysis,” are such hybrid intentionalities. For instance, meaningful use of any language teaching approach is facilitated by the individual intentionalities of teachers and learners, their shared intentionality (what should we do), and the embedded intentionality of teaching materials designed to encourage the use of the approach. Thus, we suggest that intentionality, which pervades both our psychology and the world around us, is the “information” that we need to act in the world. It is a relational form of information that human beings are particularly able to perceive, within ourselves and in our interaction with the environment, and as such it specifies affordances to act in situations and contexts of interest to AL.
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3.3 Intentional Dynamics Intentional dynamics captures how “meaning is not solely in the environment or solely in the individual but in the flow (the relation) between them” (Barab et al., 1999, p. 359). Here, we wish to highlight three aspects of intentional dynamics: (a) the attraction and danger of normative assumptions; (b) the presence of local action across all levels of an AL ecology; and (c) the relationship between global and local processes. An understanding of intentional dynamics is what enables what we call critical-intentional action. Language teaching materials, professional codes of conduct, government or school policies, as well as beliefs common in society all represent embedded or hybrid intentionalities that may enable and constrain language and language education activity. In the case that an intentionality is espoused by a majority, it may be referred to as a normative assumption (e.g., the normative assumption that nativespeakers of English are better English language teachers (Holliday, 2006)). There is the additional view—itself a normative one among critical researchers—that normative assumptions, due to their pervasive presence, suffer from a lack of critical scrutiny. We adopt this view, and suggest that, because of their “off the shelf” character, normative assumptions are “attractors” for human activity. Our argument centrally involves contrasting the impoverished intentional genesis of normative assumptions with the possibility of a more rigorous (critical-cognitive) search for understanding of what is happening, including a consideration of contextual particularities (critical-contextual), an assessment of possible injustice (critical-humanist), and the use of enhanced understanding generated by these forms of criticality to evolve new and diverse forms of purposeful activity (critical-intentional). Next, intentional dynamics give shape to local activity on several levels of an AL ecology. Critical researchers often focus on the activity of “front-line” practitioners, such as teachers or social workers, and they treat this front-line activity as “local.” Here, we want to highlight that local activity takes place on all levels of an ecology. For instance, when a language curriculum designer is writing a new syllabus or textbook, her affordances for action are shaped by intentional dynamics just the same way as is the case for language teachers and learners acting in the classroom. The curriculum designer, influenced by a range of professional intentionalities, as well as her own intentionality (beliefs), is embedding intentionality into the materials she writes, and these materials will, in turn, shape the activity of teachers and learners in classrooms. Thus, whilst engaging in a different sort of activity, with different affordances to shape the ecology, the activity of a curriculum designer is just as local as that of teachers and learners. Similarly, the situated activity of language managers, policy-makers or researchers is equally subject to intentional dynamics, and therefore—as we see it—local activity. Looking beyond these interconnected levels of local activity, at what enables and constrains these forms of activity, we discover a “systems effect.” AL situations and contexts exhibit a continual interplay between faster/local activity and slower/global phenomena. Faster/local activity, such as classroom interaction, curriculum design,
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academic writing, researcher action, or policy-making, occur on relatively short timescales—whether minutes, hours, days or weeks—and their intentional dynamics are similarly quick to form. By contrast, slower/global phenomena may persist across years. This may include the emergence, and subsequent persistence, of a particular teaching method within a community of language teachers; it may consist of the tendency of policy documents to change only gradually over time; and it certainly includes the persistent ways that discourse-in-use indexes relations of power in society. Holling (2001) summarizes this continual interplay between faster/local and slower/global phenomena—the “systems effect”—as follows. Each level is allowed to operate at its own pace, protected from above by slower, larger levels but invigorated from below by faster, smaller cycles of innovation. The whole … (ecology) … is therefore both creative and conserving. The interactions between cycles in … (an ecology) … combine learning with continuity. (pp. 398–399)
A point of particular interest to critical work is that normative assumptions, the unjust orders that these assumptions may engender, and any associated forms of oppression, may be slower/global phenomena, and hence may be quite resistant to change. In fact, Sealey and Carter (2004, p. 175) point out that one of “the properties of social structures (…) is their endurance beyond the actions or intentions of individuals.” This possible endurance of normative assumptions, then, is a particular challenge for any theory of critical action.
3.4 Power and Agency There is a fundamental obstacle to the freedom of individuals in stratified ecologies. The obstacle has to do with the limits of our own acting and knowing. A language learner may have intimate knowledge of her own learning activity, perhaps also of her peers, and may even know something about what the teacher does in the classroom and why. However, the learner is less likely to know much about language teaching approaches, or curriculum design, or the policy reasons for why she is studying English or another language. As part of a critical pedagogy, these other areas of knowing may be encouraged, but there are inevitable limitations to such an endeavor having to do with both time and the demands of specialization. Thus, the “liberatory autonomy” that Kumaravadivelu (2006) advocates for (see above), whilst desirable, may have its limits. In the large and complex ecologies that are of interest to AL researchers, each stakeholder may have a particular expertise and will play a particular role. The consequence is that individual stakeholders’ local affordances to act, in their own role, will be shaped by the activity of stakeholders on other levels, thereby giving rise to a sense of imposition—the sense that others have power over what we do. This stratification effect, with stakeholders on different levels engaging in action guided by intentional dynamics particular to their own fast/local activity, means that no single individual is likely to be entirely satisfied with the overall
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outcome. This stratification effect gives rise to Archer’s (1995) comment on society more generally. “society” is that which nobody wants in exactly the form they find it and yet it resists both individual and collective efforts at transformation – not necessarily by remaining unchanged but altering to become something else which still conforms to no one’s ideal. (p. 2)
There are thus inevitable constraints on agency in AL situations and contexts, and at times these constraints are experienced as unwelcome power over what we can or cannot do with language. Clearly, the structures that we sometimes describe as constraining can enable activity as well. For instance, a great deal of time is freed up for a teacher when she uses a textbook designed and assembled by someone else. Also, as suggested by Holling (quoted above), faster/local activity may be “protected from above by slower, larger levels,” offering a sense of security and belonging to language learners and/or users in local activity. However, this protection may be experienced as oppression, and it is necessary to investigate what assumptions (normative or other) underpin the structures, or orders, that constrain action.
3.5 Solidarity Through Diversity Earlier in the paper we quoted Freire, saying that the oppressors “cannot find in … (their) … power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves” (1968/2005, p. 44). Freire argues that powerful groups are unlikely to relinquish power when this may cause material disadvantage. He also rejects the concepts of generosity and charity as ineffectual, as these behaviors simply reaffirm the unjust order. A challenge, however, is that those that are oppressed may lack the social and cultural capital to “free themselves.” For this, Freire evokes the concept of solidarity, suggesting that the struggle for transformation may be aided by individuals with the necessary capital. We believe this fails to recognize the intentional dynamics of stratified human ecologies, as we have outlined above. In a stratified ecology, with stakeholders who have different specializations and who take on different roles, critical action by single individuals or groups may have limited impact. Rather, the struggle against an oppressive order needs a more concerted strategy. Thus, we suggest a different way to think about the concept of solidarity, and in turn a different conceptualization of transformation. A key concept in the broader field of ecological studies is “diversity.” In studies of the natural environment, ecological thinking suggests that bio-diversity can mitigate against environmental shocks, such as the local effects of climate change. Closer to the field of AL, eco-linguistics argues for maintaining the diversity of language codes (Fill, 2001). Each language indexes particular cultural practices and knowledge that may be of value, not only for the well-being, vitality, and linguistic human rights of the people using the language (Phillipson & Skutnabb-Kangas, 1996), but also as part of a larger pool of knowledge for addressing social and scientific challenges that are shared across borders. Extending this ecological thinking to the struggle against
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oppressive orders, we suggest that there is value in having ideational diversity, or a diversity of intentional dynamics, in human-social ecologies. This diversity should extend to all forms of faster/local activity, including those associated with more power. Since local activity is how the world changes, local diversity would create the conditions, over time, for transformation and new, intentional, and “just” global orders to emerge. Thus, rather than acting in solidarity with a single group—which we do not reject but which we think has limitations—our position is that all stakeholders, in concert, must recognize the necessity for diverse intentional dynamics right across an AL ecology. This is not a zero-sum game, where one party gains and the other loses. Encouraging diversity will make the intentional ecology richer in opportunity, more able to meet a variety of needs, and hence be of benefit to us all.
4 Using the Ecological Perspective This section exemplifies how our ecological perspective on critical action can be put to use. To this end, we focus on universities that are located in non-English speaking contexts, but which seek to benefit from the affordances associated with English as the global academic language. The involvement of such universities in the Anglocentric processes of globalization can contribute to a loss of linguistic diversity, and potentially also epistemic diversity, and thus is of particular ecological interest. This section also looks at what critical action might look like within this situation of English language hegemony. For this, we explore the emerging Parallel Language Use (PLU) tradition in Nordic universities. We look at how PLU policy has evolved from action on several levels of the Nordic education ecology, and to what extent this nascent global structure encourages the kind of intentional diversity that we argue for.
4.1 Globalization, English and Universities Globalization and the spread of the English language are, by many, axiomatically linked (see Phillipson, 1992). English was the language of the United Kingdom, which was the most successful colonial power of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. This colonial era created a global system of transactions, relying on the English language, spanning trade, finance, politics, education, art, culture, and war. Halfway through the twentieth century, the United States replaced Britain as the pre-eminent power, thereby ensuring the further development of the Anglo-Western colonial system of transactions, and the use of English as the language facilitating these transactions. Throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, various political and economic entities have challenged this hegemony; most notably, the Communist Block led by the Soviet Union, OPEC, the European Union, and more recently China. However, the former communist countries have transitioned from
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Russian to English as the foreign language taught in schools. OPEC’s influence has moderated in a gradually diversifying global energy economy, and its official working language is English. The European Union may be losing its most prominent English-speaking member (the UK), but to this day maintains a de facto “one foreign language plus English” educational policy. China may end up challenging the AngloAmerican hegemony more than any of the other entities. However, it is estimated that nearly 400 million Chinese have studied the English language, to some level, in school (Wei & Su, 2012). The above brief (and simplified) history describes an apparently stable, and certainly slow moving, global order. It is a global order that is associated with a number of possible injustices. One such structural injustice is suggested by Blommaert, Collins, and Slembrouck (2005), who—using capitalist terminology—suggest that there are “centers” with high levels of capital accumulation, including also cultural and linguistic goods. Moreover, there are “peripheries” with low levels of capital accumulation, and “semi-peripheries” somewhere in-between these two. This structural order means that “high prestige is attributed to ‘central’ accents of English—UK and US—among non-native speakers, as opposed to the low prestige attributed to linguistically equivalent, but ‘peripheral’ accents such as Indian and Nigerian English” (Blommaert et al., 2005, p. 202). By extension, the role of English as the language of globalization results in disproportionate power being accorded to universities located in center English-speaking contexts. A more specific injustice derives from the dominance of both the English language and center-context institutions in the academic publishing industry (Curry & Lillis, 2018). This industry relies, in the main, on the normative assumption that publication should be in a center variety of the English language. Moreover, the indexing organizations that make academic publications available to the wider academic community strongly privilege English language publication. For instance, the English language bias of Scopus and the Web of Science leave academics that publish in other languages near invisible in these databases (Delgado-López-Cózar & Repiso-Caballero, 2013). The real-world effect of this linguistic bias plays out differently across individuals and groups of academics (Hyland, 2016; Li & Hu, 2017), but in more clearly peripheral non-English speaking contexts it acts akin to a “tax” on the academic work of scholars. This may include translation, additional cycles of revision, or outright rejection of work due to the lack of English academic competence (Salager-Meyer, 2014). It may also include subtle, but academically significant changes to the knowledge production of periphery authors, by what Lillis and Curry (2006) refer to as “literacy brokers” who mediate their scholarly publication in international English medium journals. Thus, the dominance of English in the academic publication industry contributes to what Paasi (2005) calls “homogenisation” of publishing practices and knowledge production, something which, we suggest, is a threat to the epistemic diversity of academia. Critical applied linguistics has identified a number of additional normative assumptions that shape, and are shaped by, the hegemony of English as the global academic language. One such normative assumption is native-speakerism. Whilst recognizing that the term makes less sense linguistically—as may be expected of
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a normative assumption—Holliday (2006) suggests that the term describes how English language teaching thinks about itself. More generally, the assumption may be linked both to the perceived superior accumulation of cultural and linguistic goods in center English language contexts, such as the US and the UK, and, thus, describes the privileged status of high prestige varieties of English language. In universities of non-English speaking contexts, native-speakerism may affect both teaching and other forms of communication within and between universities. The normative assumption may also lead to privileged treatment for native-speakers of the high prestige varieties of English language in the educational job market. Another related normative assumption is the value accorded to English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) in universities. EMI is becoming increasingly common in a variety of non-English speaking contexts, ranging from Northern and Western Europe, the Middle East, as well as East and South-East Asia (see Macaro, Curle, Pun, An, & Dearden, 2018; Williams, 2015). There are even examples of national university ranking regimes that award additional status to universities that adopt EMI (Cho, 2012). In many such non-English speaking contexts, the aim of EMI appears to be three-fold: (a) offering access to prestige knowledge; (b) attracting international students; and (c) developing students’ competence in (preferably a prestige variety of) the English language. A sociolinguistic analysis of this situation of hegemony, and its associated normative assumptions, reveals additional dimensions of injustice. Blommaert et al. (2005, p. 199) remind us that “meaningful behaviour is organized indexically and that language is an ideological object, i.e., an object invested with social and cultural interests.” Thus, English as the language of globalization, and the language of academic publication, is ideologically indexing and invested with Anglo-Western “social and cultural interests.” Thus, students in non-English speaking contexts that adopt EMI may not only struggle linguistically, they may struggle, also, to learn content framed by Anglo-Western social and cultural interests. Their lecturers will similarly struggle both with the linguistics of teaching in another language and with trying to make the knowledge relevant to their students. Local social and cultural interests, including also the local/national language which indexes these interests, may be devalued, and there may be a knock-on effect on the vitality of both individual and national identity. Finally, the hegemony of the English language may contribute to what Halvorsen (2018) calls “epistemic expropriation.” In the attempt to learn from more peripheral contexts, Halvorsen suggests that center-context academics “remove” knowledge from peripheral contexts, and through a process of “violent abstraction” (i.e., framing the knowledge in terms of Anglo-Western “social and cultural interests”) the “concrete use-value” of the knowledge in the original peripheral contexts is lost. We suggest, then, that the intentional dynamics springing from the dominance of English as a global academic language are comparatively impoverished. A great deal has been said about this hegemony, and its effects, especially in the AngloWestern academic literature. However, governments in some of these non-English speaking settings, as well as regulatory authorities and the universities themselves, appear to uncritically accept and act in ways aligned with the normative assumptions
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of English language hegemony. This lack of strategic and overt consideration of affordances—its impoverished intentional dynamics—allows for the continuation of this slow/global situation of hegemony.
4.2 “Parallel Language Use” as Critical-Intentional Action An oppressive order without any clear oppressors, and with impoverished intentional dynamics, may seem like an impenetrable “Wall of Givens.” However, our argument is that critical action, provided that it is intentional, and provided that it happens across all levels of an ecology, can be a “Piercing Arrow” able to penetrate even the thickest wall. In this section, we suggest that the Nordic concept of Parallel Language Use (PLU) is a useful example of such critical-intentional action. It is not action intended to challenge the global dominance of English, per se. However, within the Nordic countries which are adopting PLU, it seeks to redress the impacts of hegemony. PLU is not a policy imposed on any part of Nordic society. Rather, it functions akin to a “social compact,” or what we would call a “shared intentionality,” that organizations and individuals may draw upon when developing their own policies and practices. The concept first emerged in 1998, when the Swedish Language Council commented that “den ensidiga inriktningen pa engelska kan leda till att välutbildade personer i Sverige inte längre kan tala och skriva om komplicerada ämnen på svenska (the one-sided focus on English can lead to educated persons in Sweden not being able to speak and write about complicated topics in Swedish)” (1998, p. 14). The recommendation made was that universities should encourage “studenternas förmåga till parallellt bruk av svenska och engelska inom sina ämnen (the students’ ability to use Swedish and English in parallel in their subjects)” (p. 20). On the broader Nordic arena, PLU gained traction in 2001 (a European year of languages), when a number of reports on the status of Nordic languages were commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers (Höglin, 2002). Finally, the various documents developing the notion of PLU also make a critical-contextual reference to the feasibility of PLU for the Nordic context, pointing out that the English language has an established presence in Nordic societies, and that it is “spoken at a high level in universities and elsewhere” (Gregersen, 2018, p. 8). Moreover, in terms of normative cultural and epistemic traditions, Nordic societies may be more similar to center English speaking contexts, such as the UK and US, than what is the case for some other non-English speaking contexts in other parts of the world. The actual practice of PLU is being shaped by local activity on several levels of Nordic society. It continues to be encouraged by government entities, most notably pan-Nordic meetings focused on language and education. These meetings tend to provide only a general outline of what PLU means, should do, and who might be involved. For instance, a recent Nordic Council of Ministers suggested that “as society’s most important institutions for the production and communication of new knowledge, universities have a democratic duty to maintain and develop scientific
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dialogue, both in international research circles and with broad groups of citizens” (Gregersen, 2018, p. 8, original emphasis). Prompted by this general outline, universities are encouraged to develop local policies consistent with their own needs. Hult and Källkvist (2016) describe how local interpretations of PLU, in three leading Swedish universities, address not only language use, but also status planning, corpus planning and language-in-education planning (Baldauf, 2006). Hult and Källkvist point to university guidelines on the use of language across administration, academic publication and teaching. In terms of status planning, the university policies echo the above expressed concern that Swedish should remain relevant, both within the universities and in society. In terms of corpus planning, the university policies seek to ensure that Swedish is “complete,” including terminology and discourse patterns, so that it can be used for a full range of academic and professional purposes. Finally, the university policies overtly address language-in-education, tending to express a preference for Swedish on more basic levels of university education, where the students may struggle to access subject knowledge in English, and a gradual shift towards the English language on higher levels, such as doctoral education. The concrete outcomes of PLU include a different rationale for the use of English in instruction (EMI). Rather than “gaining competence in the English language,” the aim of using the English language in instruction is for students to have parallel language competence in their subjects. Airey and Linder (2008, p. 150) make the more nuanced suggestion that PLU should aim for a deliberately worked out “combination of language-specific disciplinary skills.” In terms of publications, both Nordic and English language outputs are promoted, with Nordic language outputs more prominent in “outreach publication” to local audiences, and English more prominent (depending on discipline) in publications aimed at academic audiences. Finally, university policies, both in the universities investigated by Hult and Källkvist (2016), as well as more generally across the Nordic region, explicitly maintain that individual departments and academics have the freedom to evolve their own unique PLU practices. PLU does not fully displace the slower/global order of English language hegemony in the Nordic context. In fact, the various government and university institutional documents on PLU all accept English as the language that will function alongside the relevant Nordic language in parallel language competence. Unsurprisingly, then, some of the normative assumptions of English language hegemony remain. Since publishing for academic audiences tends to happen in English, this language remains more prestigious in a narrowly defined academic sense. Moreover, there appears to be some lingering native-speakerism. In a qualitative study at a large Swedish university, Kuteeva (2014) found that students questioned not only their own English competence, but also that of their fellow international students, and the appropriateness of teaching staff with non-native accents (Indian, Pakistani, Arab, and Russian). Rigidly structured EMI situations can also be found in PLU contexts—especially at the higher levels of education, and more so in science subjects. However, Kuteeva (2014) was able to present several voices that challenged these normative assumptions, and these voices led her to conclude that disciplinary linguistic competence, in English or any other language, is not the same as native-speaker
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competence. Rather, “academic language competence requires both more and less than a native/native-like competence” (p. 341). Thus, PLU may be a hybrid intentionality with more affordances for problematizing normative assumptions. Also, PLU universities, as part of their oversight regimes, can challenge departments whose activity relies too much on either English or the local Nordic language. Again, this indicates something about how different levels of the Nordic educational ecology are negotiating the emerging shape of this new global structure. PLU may not conform to anyone’s ideal (see earlier quote from Archer, 1995), but it is an outcome of diverse intentional dynamics involving stakeholders on different levels, and is more democratic than the order that it replaces. Thus, we believe PLU is a good example of the critical-intentional action that we argue for in this chapter.
5 Conclusion We believe that the ecological perspective on critical action is our best opportunity for the transformation of unjust orders in situations and contexts of interest to AL. Our critical-intentional action is a macro-strategy that begins with “problematizing the givens” (Pennycook, 2004). This will generate understanding of the potentially impoverished intentionality of the normative assumptions that underpin unjust orders. Next, we must encourage critical-intentional action on all levels of an AL ecology. We recognize that changing slower/global orders, such as the hegemony of the English language, may take a great amount of time and effort, and that in the shorter term it may be better to mitigate against an unjust order rather than to try to “topple it” outright. Given time, however, we believe that critical-intentional action has a unique ability to pierce though the givens of hegemonic orders. We have suggested that PLU in the Nordic context exemplifies our criticalintentional action. In this context, PLU achieves valuable objectives, including both the objective for universities to remain competitive on the international academic stage, as well as the national objective of maintaining the completeness of the relevant Nordic language. PLU promotes more diverse intentional dynamics within Nordic universities, and hence a wider set of linguistic affordances for action. That said, our ecological perspective also highlights that PLU does not directly challenge the hegemony of the English language. Rather, faster/local PLU intentional dynamics co-exist with the larger/global intentional dynamics associated with the hegemony of English. In closing, we believe the key to a “just” world is a human ecology richer in intentional meanings and actions, as enabled by a multitude of ways of thinking, acting and expressing ourselves. We believe that diverse forms of faster/local criticalintentional action can deprive existing oppressive orders of their “oxygen,” and over time remove the conditions which allow hegemony to emerge in the first place. This call for intentional diversity should extend to all levels of an ecology, including the levels associated with power. Thus, it should include an openness to, and support for, all stakeholders within the ecology developing their own unique intentionality.
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Learners, teachers, and policy-makers alike should be encouraged to develop understanding of the intentional dynamics of the particular activity they are engaged in, and leverage this understanding to become more purposeful. The stratified nature of language education and other AL ecologies means that no single individual can comprehend the full set of intentional dynamics at play, and power dynamics will therefore remain. However, the fostering of diverse intentional dynamics on, and across, all levels will contribute to richer intentional dynamics overall, will extend the range of affordances to act, will promote innovation on all levels, and will ultimately allow more democratic orders, such as PLU, to emerge.
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Space and Time for Understanding(s): The Recursive Cycle of Language Education and Classroom Enquiry Anna Costantino
Abstract This chapter discusses the synergic understandings gained by the author while juggling different language educational roles that are usually conceived as being separate. The author seeks to retrieve the strands of practice, thought and understanding that might have participated in that synergy. By reflecting on her involvement in an Exploratory Practice (EP) practitioner inquiry as a Modern Foreign Language teacher, while at the same time investigating the effects of current technocratic models in the administration of educational practices, she considers how crossing boundaries imposed by her roles has helped her nuance her professional identity as a language educator and practitioner-researcher and has strengthened her search for space(s) and time(s) for practical and ethical ecologies in language education.
1 Introduction The background of the reflections reported in this chapter goes back to a series of professional events and theoretical engagements that emerged almost concurrently, while I was involved in an Exploratory Practice (EP) practitioner inquiry as a Modern Foreign Language (MFL) teacher, and at the same time investigating the effects of current technocratic models in the administration of educational practices. This chapter discusses the understanding(s) I gained while juggling three different educational roles that are usually conceived as being separate. It seeks to synthesize the perspectives that arose from crossing boundaries imposed by my roles: (a) as the MFL teacher concerned with engaging her language students with learning; (b) as the EP practitioner-researcher puzzling her practice in search of more inclusive scope for her pedagogy; and (c) as the educational theorist concerned with identifying space(s) and time(s) for an ecological pedagogy through the dominance of neoliberal educational practices. A. Costantino (B) University of Greenwich, London, UK e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_5
In the form of a reflexive essay, this chapter seeks to challenge the conventional boundaries of the practical (language pedagogy), the epistemological (practitionerresearch) and the theoretical (critical educational theory). I discuss how those three professional remits might have conflicted and blurred into each other, while seeking to provide a theoretical frame to the understandings gained through my work as a practitioner-researcher and language educator. I also consider how the synergy that emerged has helped me nuance my current professional identity as a language educator and practitioner-researcher, while strengthening an awareness of the ethical and moral dimension of my profession (Edwards-Groves, Brennan Kemmis, Hardy, & Ponte, 2010; Gieve & Miller, 2006; Kemmis & Smith, 2008a). Thus, the chapter advances three major interlinked arguments. Firstly, I suggest a view of education aimed at fostering individual “selfexpression,” “self-development,” and “self-determination,” so that it is possible “to help people live well in a world worth living” (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer, & Bristol, 2014, p. 25). Although this proposition does not veer teaching techniques, curriculum design and implementation, and assessment away from a classroom focus, it remains critical of traditions focusing on “pedagogy as method” and “means-ends (instrumental) thinking” (Ax & Ponte, 2008, p. 7; see also Kemmis, 2008). Furthermore, in foregrounding a view of education aiming at the development of the whole range of human capabilities, this proposition challenges an idea of education that segregates professional performances and life. In other words, my argument is that educational action is understood as praxis; namely, ontologically grounded pedagogical action; “morally-committed, and oriented and informed by traditions in a field” (Kemmis & Smith, 2008b, p. 4), but also “history making” (Kemmis, 2010). Educational action bears responsibility for its moral, social, and political consequences. A notion of education as axiological commitment supports my second argument. As practitioner-research might help place a greater emphasis on educational values, it may enable practitioners to understand the consequences of their practice in terms of present responsibility towards what and whom inhabit their immediate environment, but also in terms of “intergenerational responsibility” (Van KannelRay, 2006, p. 117), namely as care for the present and for “possible, probable and preferred futures” (Adam, 2008, p. 114, original emphasis; see also Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017). Indeed, Exploratory Practice “as a form of fully inclusive practitioner research” (Hanks, 2017a), which is increasingly implemented in language education, posits great emphasis on sustainability, Quality of Life and ethical responsibility (Gieve & Miller, 2006; Hanks, 2017a, 2017b). Understood holistically as acts of living and lived embodied experience, both research and pedagogy might aid practitioners to see that the many constraints traversing a classroom qua result of market-based models of educational administration (Ax & Ponte, 2008; Gray & Block, 2012) are constraints to life itself. Finally, this chapter makes an epistemological case for a greater reliance on transdisciplinary forms of “knowledge production” (Nowotny, Scott, & Gibbons, 2003) or,
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specifically relevant to practitioner-research, on emerging understanding. An underpinning conceptualization of this chapter is that life is a complex phenomenon. As Kostoulas (2018) succinctly explains, “knowing” in complexity terms, and we can also include “understanding,” does not rely on analytical disassembling; nor is it about predicting future states through the generation of a single unifying explanatory framework that encompass any phenomena under study. Understanding what occurs in the everyday classroom can be then seen as emergent (see also Kostoulas, this volume), in that educational events or phenomena are the result of processes of self-organizing life, which ultimately resist any quantitative reduction of its components. If we borrow imagery used by Choi and Pak (2006) to contextualize transdisciplinarity, we might equally say that an emergent phenomenon is like a cake, in which the original ingredients are no longer distinguishable in the final make. This phenomenon can be accommodated by the equation “2 + 2 = Yellow,” meaning that any change occurring is radically qualitative. However, while the idea of emergence seems to have convinced methodologists and larger areas of university-based research, including Second Language Acquisition and applied linguistics (see Douglas Fir Group, 2016; Larsen-Freeman, 2012), (language) teachers struggle with embedding those insights in their professional development or day-to-day classroom doings. In their everyday practice, teachers, but also educational managers and students, resist any ideas that question or disrupt practices, based on the assumption that there exists a linear and mechanistic relationships between classroom occurrences and actions. Teachers, in particular, may be uncomfortable with innovation other than new teaching techniques. I have personally experienced this stubbornness while being involved in the Exploratory Practice project reported by Slimani-Rolls and Kiely (2018). It took us, the participant language teachers, almost a year to begin to detach from institutional routinized practices and teaching “scripts” (Ax & Ponte, 2008). That meant that we would not let go easily on the idea that practitioner-research is a practice solely concerned with “successful” interventions aimed at improving educational provisions, rather than one caring for life itself. In Sects. 2 and 3, I introduce and discuss the theoretical/methodological and epistemic frameworks that have informed my reflections, such as Exploratory Practice, Practice Theory, and a notion of multiscalar spatio-temporality. Although those frameworks are outlined in succession for expository reasons, in fact, the underlying assumption throughout the chapter is that they have meshed into one other, while being held together by my concerns for more inclusive forms of language pedagogy. Indeed, an account of those frameworks is interspersed with references to my classroom work. Core to Exploratory Practice, “understanding” will be advocated for language teachers and learners as a mode of attuning to or sensing the interplay of the multiple spaces and times/rhytms (Lefebvre, 1992/2004) inhabiting and clashing within a classroom, while striving to achieve a better Quality of Life. I also claim that “understanding” has the capacity of making new space and time for the instantiation of diverse pedagogical ecologies. This particular notion of “understanding” allows us to question an idea of learning and teaching as a sum of fixed learning outcomes, replicable in the scripts designed
by public policies and managerial strategies. However, in order for this educational view to be challenged, life must be sensed and understood in its complexity; and, importantly, its resources re-appropriated sustainably through everyday pedagogical practice. This is discussed in Sect. 4, where, after considering my concerns with the technocratic model of learning and teaching in language education, I suggest the potential of practitioner-research to challenge it. This discussion leads me to reflect on my understanding(s) at the time of writing in the concluding Sect. 5.
2 Positioning “Understanding”: Practitioner-Research as Sustained and Sustainable Pedagogical Practice The framework of this chapter is tributary to a number of theoretical traditions, epistemic views, and pedagogical orientations. They have meshed into my reflections and have supported my work for “understanding” in tandem with my language students. However, as Exploratory Practice has been a central influence in my practice and a thrust in moving my theory forward, I begin positioning “understanding” by introducing EP.
2.1 Exploratory Practice as an Inclusive and Ethical Form of Practitioner-Research I first approached Exploratory Practice for I saw it as a sustainable pedagogical practice that could fit my busy life as a language educator. Furthermore, EP would align with my espoused idea of education as promoting self-expression, self-development, and self-determination. Indeed, as I became involved with it, it appeared to me that EP was able to respond to major epistemological, ontological and ethical challenges for language pedagogies. As previously mentioned, Exploratory Practice is “a form of fully inclusive practitioner research” whose framework draws on a set of principles revolving around inclusivity and sustainability (Hanks, 2017a, p. 2). EP is inclusive, since both learners and teachers “investigate their own learning/teaching practices while concurrently practising the target language” (p. 2). More specifically, it focuses on collegiality “bringing different stakeholders (learners, researchers, teachers) together as they set their own, personally and professionally relevant, research agendas” (Hanks, 2017b, p. 38). EP is also sustainable since the enquiring process becomes part of everyday classroom practice rather than being initiated by an external observer/researcher, outsider to the classroom life. Indeed, an EP enquiry does not add an extra burden to the already constrained life of teachers and learners, as normal pedagogical practices are deployed as investigative tools. As mentioned earlier, EP’s principles highlight “an overarching concern for Quality of Life” (Hanks, 2017b, p. 38) for both learners
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and teachers. By prioritizing an understanding of Quality of Life as being prior to seeking to improve it (Hanks, 2015), EP addresses “ethical concerns such as trust, respect, reflexivity and shared responsibly” (Miller, 2010, p. 6).
2.2 Understanding Classroom Life: The Teachers’ Perspective My practitioner-research work towards understanding classroom life has been pivotal in many senses. It has symbiotically reconnected my teaching and learning to the epistemological, ontological, and ethical domains of complexity around which the arguments of this chapter revolve. In working for understanding and, hence, exploiting an education thrust towards wonder and problem-posing (Freire, 1968/1996), EP has helped me redefine my professionalism as a language teacher. It has allowed me to engage in a recursive cycle of understanding by encouragement to fathom further the extent to which external “forms of agency” (Miller, 2010) were indeed conditioning my classroom practice to the detriment of values such as inclusiveness and Quality of Life. In the next sections, I illustrate how Exploratory Practice has contributed to the directions of my practice, by focusing specifically on puzzlement, and sustainability of resources for Quality of Life. Those are aspects which make EP unique in terms of articulating my arguments and answering the concerns of this essay. They also allow me to address the notion of life, as an overarching and encompassing dimension. They will be introduced as I discuss my involvement with EP.
2.3 My Involvement with Exploratory Practice My involvement with EP began at the end of 2014, when, as an MFL teacher, teaching Italian to undergraduate students in the UK, I joined an EP practitioner-research project envisaged as Continuous Professional Development (Slimani-Rolls & Kiely, 2018). The project was aimed at university-based language teachers who wanted to investigate and understand their immediate context of practice. Six universitybased language teachers joined the project and worked together for two years. When the project ended, a smaller group of language teachers, including myself, spontaneously initiated new strands of investigation, which, at the time of writing, are still in progress. Indeed, the reflections here contained feed on my ongoing explorative work. Puzzlement is an important dimension in EP (Hanks, 2017a, 2017b). A puzzle is a why-question, which both teachers and learners raise in relation to instances in their practice (learning, teaching and quality of life) that appear as counterintuitive. My early puzzle was about my learners’ engagement with my feedback (Costantino,
2018). I wondered why my learners did not seem to engage with it, thus missing what I thought was a useful learning opportunity. On reflection, my puzzle clearly highlights a performative struggle in having to abide by the protocols of my classroom. This was also the case for some of my co-researchers. For example, Houghton (2018) wondered why he was not able to engage his students in learning vocabulary in his English for Academic Purposes class. Lecumberri (2018) and Rawson (2018) wondered respectively why their students were constantly using their mobiles in class, or spoke Italian amongst themselves in her French class. While our concerns seemed to be relating to classroom management, they could also be read as instances of discomfort arising from not meeting the tacit rules, taken-for-granted knowledge, and expectations of our classroom. A puzzle, then, can be viewed as an early sensor of the tensions dwelling within the life of the classroom. It brings them to the fore from the multiple times/rhythms, the institutional and the personal, traversing the equally multiple material and symbolic spaces of a classroom. Sustainability of resources for quality of life At the beginning of my project, I began to enquire about my puzzle by relying on my classroom resources. In fact, EP suggests that “integrating the work for understanding fully into existing curricular practices in a way of minimizing the burden and maximizing sustainability” (Hanks, 2015, p. 3). For practitioners, resources include their taught subject matter, their pedagogical knowledge of principles and strategies of teaching, local familiarity with their students, and their traditional classroom activities such as pair and group work, class discussion, and so forth. EP literature refers to the latter as PEPAs, or “Potentially Exploitable Pedagogic Activities” (Allwright & Hanks, 2009, p. 157). The deployment of PEPAs as tools for classroom enquiry is an important move to challenge what I previously called classroom “scripts.” By the latter, I understand crystallization of learning and teaching theories but also policies embedded into the life of a classroom. As I elaborate on later, those “scripts” are abstract spaces and times that channel and flatten the multiple ecologies of a classroom into the instrumental linearity of learning objectives. The administration of feedback to my students, which I assumed would mechanically “produce” learning, is an example of classroom “script.” PEPAs, as investigative tools, on the contrary, are not instantiated in a logic of means-ends. Rather, they are engaged with in a collaborative open-ended search for meaning, which refers to the symbolic space in which the taken-for-granted assumptions on roles and capabilities are continuously challenged. In my inquiry, for instance, I realized that my students, who I thought were not engaged with my feedback, were instead truly concerned with their learning. I deployed class conversations where my students discussed their approach to and view of feedback; I also used self- and peer-correction activities, as well as discussions on the use of particular grammar structures, along with conventional grammar worksheets. In fact, as I went along with those classroom activities designed to investigate my puzzle, but also to practice what I perceived were learning gaps, I discovered that my students were highly able to apply the grammar rules whose application they consistently failed in their tests. It became clear to me that my students, registered in a very intensive course, struggled with managing the complexity of times and spaces of our classroom. Squeezed in the intermingling and clashing
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of their personal time(s) with the restrained times of their educational institution, students were unable to fully express their linguistic capabilities. One major understanding I gained about my teaching was that despite being an experienced teacher, I restrained my learners’ capabilities within the pre-set spaces and time of my practices. Although, those institutional frames clashed with my espoused values of inclusive and non-transmissive education, they were part of my teaching routine and I did not question them. For instance, I expected my students to learn mechanically from my feedback, implying that they were blank slates on which to write grammar rules. I was unable to see the complexity of learning as intersubjective and embodied experience. PEPAs worked as powerful resources, as classroom activities become redeployed in new and meaningful learning contexts. As PEPAs respond to a puzzle rather than to the sole aim of achieving learning objectives, they engender dialogic forms of inquiry, making space and time for “alternative practical,” “ethical,” “affective,” but also cognitive “ecologies” to emerge (Puig de La Bellacasa, 2017, p. 23). Hence, from a multiscalar perspective, PEPAs can be also viewed as contingent and local tools through which it is possible to tap into the broader pool of life and world resources.
3 Discussing “Understanding”: Theories and Epistemologies Approaching EP and becoming involved in practitioner-enquiry occurred against the backdrop of my interest in understanding social and educational practices. At the time of my early EP puzzle, such interest relied on developments in practice theory and practice philosophy (Kemmis et al., 2014; Schatzki, 2001), which foregrounds human practices as co-existence unfolding socially, culturally, and historically. Although the parallels between my theory and practice were not initially self-evident, my work as a practitioner-researcher appeared to have some affinities to those views. Those accounts seemed to allow me to reflect upon the epistemological affordances of practitioner-research and its ethical grounding. However, as I was making those theoretical connections clearer, my practical and pedagogical work began to selectively inform my theoretical concerns and interests. In other words, theory began to feed on my practice, strengthening it, and vice versa. This engendered a loop that ever since has recursively informed my work for understanding. Theory has contributed to my pedagogical and practitioner research in many ways. It has enabled me to situate the forces that might have traversed the life of my classroom, as I was going along with my practitioner-enquiry. It has nuanced the notion of life, explicating how it connects to the everyday classroom practice, which has unfolded as I tried to report on my work as a practitioner. Importantly, theory has shed light on the nature of puzzlement as a way of sensing the tensions between the many spatio-temporalities inhabiting my classroom. Furthermore, it has situated both puzzlement and classroom resources against the backdrop of multiscalar practices,
understood as embodied in space and time (Lefebvre, 1992/2004, 1974/1991; Shotter, 1993), and as bundles of “sayings, doings and relatings” (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 58; see also Choy, Edwards-Groves, & Grootenboer, 2017) participating and sharing activities in broader forms of life (Wittgenstein, 1953/1958). The latter in turn entail shared resources organized in our cultural-discursive, material-economic, and socialpolitical world (Kemmis et al., 2014; Habermas, 1981/1987). It is in the presence of these resources, stretching out diachronically through history and traditions, and synchronically through the mutual interconnectedness of forms of life, where we can locate the notion of life that underpins my understanding of educational practices. The cultural-discursive resources enable us to use language and discourses in and about a specific practice. Theories of learning and their applied version in classroom activities are resources of this kind. They circumscribe what can be appropriately described, interpreted and justified. Resources are present in material-economic arrangements, which make possible the unfolding of the activities undertaken or occurring in the course of a given practice in multiple spaces and times. For instance, we can think of a standard classroom timetable and time (two-hour sessions across a 24-week schedule within an academic calendar) inscribed within particular learning spaces or set-ups, such as particular classroom layouts. Finally, the social-political resources make possible “the relationships between people and non-human objects that occur in the practice” (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 32, original emphasis). Examples of these arrangements are “the organizational functions, rules and roles in an organization, or the communicative requirements of the lifeworld processes of reaching shared understandings” (p. 32). Those might be internal and external, national and supranational policies, or internal institutional bylaws. Those resources might also involve the use of and access to physical resources for educational purposes, such as the visibly concrete space of a building, a computer in an IT lab, but also the less immediately visible space of data management. Kostoulas (2018) argues that access to such resources creates educational affordances for action, which suggests that they are sites of possible transformation and challenge to sedimented power. A multileveled and scalar view of the classroom resources has important repercussions on how classroom pedagogy might be understood and experienced by teachers and learners. As mentioned in the introduction, this calls for challenging a concept of pedagogy that traditionally has been revolving exclusively around core activities such teaching methods, curriculum, and assessment, which is a challenge to a traditional separation between pedagogy and life. As pedagogies are inherently linked and involved in the interrelation between cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements, the very idea of pedagogy needs to be revisited as encompassing a number of layers of reality. Pedagogy is highly involved in the broader scope of policy and historical context. Hence, pedagogical practices dwell and are inscribed in what Lefebvre (1974/1991) names as a three-dimensional space (the conceived, the perceived, and the lived), while being traversed by the linear, non-linear, and cyclic time made of natural but also socially produced rhythms (1992/2004).
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Conceived space Lefebvre’s conceptualization of space and time is useful, as it adds an extra layer of intelligibility to the view of multi-layered practices outlined above. It supports an understanding of puzzlement as a sensor of tensions, and one of classroom as being replete with world and life resources. In relation to a (language) classroom, we can think of conceived space as the abstract space of representations, such as scientific and social theories, ideas, discourses, acts of speech, and policies. Those are made of descriptions and definitions, namely locutory and perlocutory speech acts that allow for communication and social orientation to take place (Schmid, 2008). Amongst representations of space one can list theories of learning and teaching, along with the managerial protocols implemented in educational institutions. Conceived space encompasses all the three layers of practices seen earlier: the cultural-discursive, the socio-political, and the material-economic. What specifies those domains is the way in which they relate to everyday practices. Conceived space is abstract, that is, distant from and imposed to (educational) actors. Perceived space According to Lefebvre, space is also perceived. Indeed, our everyday classroom can be viewed as an instance of a number of spatial practices in which our sayings, doings and relatings, as well as those of others, are mostly takenfor-granted. We hardly question the presence of the students in our classroom, the building in which we work, our content and pedagogical knowledge, our classroom management and learning techniques and methods. Spatial practice ensures continuity and degrees of cohesion through level of practical competence and performance in a given arrangement or form of life, such as our classroom. Lived space Both conceived/abstract space and perceived space symbiotically intermesh with lived space; namely with the practico-sensory and bodily experience of individuals in the everyday. But bodily experiences are not limited to physiological functions. Lived activity entails experiencing the practices in which we are through the medium of the body: namely, through the senses, sight, hearing, smells, tastes and touch, through recalling and desiring, but also through encoded and non-encoded symbolic representations, shared in a particular social formation and through takenfor-granted abstract space. Spaces are also traversed by time, the natural and cyclic times specific of nature: night/day, months, seasons, mortality, and the socially produced, such as the clock and the calendar. Those often constrain our natural and idiosyncratic bodily rhythms and disable our expected professional performances (Adam, 1995; Lefebvre, 1992/2004). Those bodily experiences might be tiredness and illness, but also the emotional burden suffered for not abiding by the abstract representations inhabiting the classroom, such as the “good performer”: the “good student” and the “good teacher,” and “the good researcher.” It is in those instances that life itself pierces through and clashes against the linearity of our classroom “scripts.” Understanding pedagogies as being multiscalar time-space brings then even more into relief the epistemological, the ontological, and the axiological challenges mentioned earlier. Social practices have an epistemological dimension since they deal with knowledge. However, practitioner-research represents a challenge to a certain kind of knowledge embodied in the classroom. Examples of this are the abovementioned theories of language acquisition, for example. They can be viewed as
abstract representations in the conceived/abstract space of a classroom. They are mostly taken-for-granted in the perceived practices of our classroom, as are most of our conventional language classroom teaching and learning techniques; or, classroom “scripts.” Thus, the instantiation of puzzling within a practitioner-research enquiry, as the sensing of tensions and discomfort, gives practitioners different affordances. Puzzling is an embodied and lived experience in which the conceived/abstract cannot be any longer taken for granted. Through their enquiry, practitioners crash against abstract space and time. Pedagogies have also an ontological dimension, as they traverse and become entangled with the way we are in the world, and how we deal with our and others’ sayings, doings, and relatings. Furthermore, the way we are in the world cannot elude our idiosyncratic times while we juggle in and live through our entanglements with cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements. This takes me back to a further layer of the meaning for my puzzling as a practitioner-researcher. While my puzzle was initiated as a result of my inability to see my students’ struggles with our classroom multiple spatio-temporalities, this was also mirrored by my own struggle in accepting any disruption to those very spatio-temporalities. Hence, although those tensions are brought about and limited by the abstract space of a classroom, they, in fact, index life, surfacing and trespassing the boundaries of a classroom. Furthermore, as pedagogies are entangled with forms of life, they cannot eschew axiological consideration. By engaging learners collectively, and valuing connectivity, pedagogies cannot elude their inextricable bond with moral responsibility towards ourselves and others, and, importantly, towards future states. What emerges in the present of our classroom dynamics will affect our possible futures (Adam, 2008).
4 Challenging the Technocratic Model of Language Education The implementation of a renewed view of education with an “indissoluble moral, political and historical dimension” (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 25), along with practices that allow life to spill into the classroom, entails an idea of care for the becoming of an individual against the open possibilities offered by our cultural-discursive, materialeconomic and social-political world. I touched upon this earlier while considering the traditional and current scope of pedagogy, which tends to be fully identified with day-to-day practices such teaching methods, technique, curriculum design and implementation and assessment.
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4.1 The Two-Level Fragmentation of Classroom Practices Considerations on the purposes of education are stringently relevant to our everyday language classroom and teaching practices, as they highlight levels of fragmentation of our practices and capabilities as well as concerns with a technical view of learning and teaching. They call for an understanding of the extent to which educational processes have been informed and shaped by what it has been termed as “the production of things—the production of people of a certain kind, for example, or the production of ‘learning outcomes’” (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 25). As previously hinted, this is a productivistic and linear view of human action. By favoring “the production of things,” teachers are understood as “(…) technicians who are responsible for producing such learning outcomes in the knowledge, skills and values of the students they teach” (p. 25). Similarly, a technical view of learning inures us to view a learner as either a tabula rasa, a blank slate that needs to be written upon by the teacher alone, or as an individual understood as a container of psychological processes, which are there for the teacher to be deciphered, aided by sound evidence-based research. Practices, both learning and teaching, become “disembodied, structured, cognitive activity” (Cunliffe, 2004, p. 409). Learning occurs “inside the head as an intellectual activity in which mind and body, intellect and emotions, thinking and acting are separate” (p. 409). This is what Freire (Freire 1968/1996) names as the “banking approach” to learning and teaching. What was illustrated above represents a first degree of fragmentation. Practitioners of learning, practitioners’ activity and capabilities become atomized (i.e., objectified) in order to attain specific learning outcomes, or clearly identifiable performances. Those approaches to teaching and learning establish habitualizations and expectations that are difficult to break in educational practices. Certainly, a strong habitualization is what Candlin and Crichton (2011) describe as “a deficit discourse.” By this, the authors understand a discursive construct that implies loss of attributes or lack of capabilities “which diminish in various way the life chances of persons” (p. 4), and are therefore conducive to failure. We can think of opposite constructs such as those mentioned earlier. “The good teacher” and “the good students” are often evoked to emphasize performative attitudes that convey the exact opposite meaning. As Candlin and Crichton argue, “deficit” is metaphorically deployed “to describe and categorize what might be called a measurable insufficiency” (p. 4). Deficit categorization and the value judgement associated with it are normally drawn from expert knowledge—a piece of research or expertise of some sort. What is always associated to it is a call for repair. In other words, it entails a technical view that identifies problems and calls for either learners or teachers for solutions. These considerations might look like oversimplifications from the vantage point of the “conventional” researcher, accustomed to the intricate variety and sophistry of methodological and epistemological approaches. Nevertheless, those very oversimplifications are what becomes filtered by and injected into classroom practice, vested as either academic-based theory or findings, or management protocols. In their Initial Teacher Education pre-service teachers are exposed to learning and teaching
theories (see also Skela, this volume), but, once in their practicum, they are to rely on their practical knowledge. This comprises distillations of theories, discrete pieces of knowledge that are held together in the forms of teaching techniques, strategies, assumptions on learning processes, and their (teaching) common sense, with the sole purpose of managing a learning environment. For in-service teachers, those distillations often acquire an even further layer of taken-for-grantedness, as expertise and further competencies are developed along the way. This is what I previously referred to as the everyday life of perceived space, which in turn feeds on abstract/conceived one. Thus, along with the first level of fragmentation, in which practitioners are viewed as producers of “things,” such as replicable “learning outcomes,” while being themselves objectified, a further level of atomization can be identified. Theories and findings on learning and teaching are often useful for classroom management and for understanding its dynamics. However, those findings, filtered through classroom activity, become equally abstract and objectified. This is particularly true as they become institutionalized in protocols of class management, such as classroom observations. Those are deployed not as “best practices” or models for professional learning, but rather as a set of standardized criteria that, while ticking compliance boxes, pre-determine classroom dynamics. Research findings become also institutionalized in the metrics relating to the expected results in credit-bearing courses, which affect the way teachers deliver their assessment activities. At both levels of fragmentation, economic and social political conditions are at work. These affect the atomization of capabilities and curricula, while lending themselves to meet market criteria of quality assurance standards, entrenched in the principles of efficiency, calculability, and predictability (Gray & Block, 2012). As a technocratic view acquiesces in market principles, concurrently it severs the bonds that educational actors have with their world. Abstract representations from policies, theories, and rules not only overrun the lived and living space of embedded practices, but they also restrain any possibility they might entail and bear. They nullify the possibility for educational practices to prompt “possible, probable and preferred futures” (Adam, 2008, p. 114, original emphasis). A view of teaching and learning understood as discrete “learning outcomes” and performances feeding league tables and commodification purposes needs to concede to one that reconnects practitioners to their practices in an ecological manner, namely as embodied lived and “living practices (moment-by-moment social interactions)” (Edwards-Groves, Brennan Kemmis, Hardy, & Ponte, 2010, p. 44, original emphasis). Furthermore, a view of academic-based research that has the last word on “teaching scripts” needs to hand over one that is taken in as a canvas enabling both teachers and learners to reflect on their embodied practices against the backdrop of the broader scope of life. Both levels of educational fragmentation call for reinstating the original bond to the world and life resources. They call for a pedagogy to help people “to live well in a world worth living” (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 25).
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4.2 Towards Recomposing the Language Classroom as a Lived and Living Practice As seen earlier, a two-level fragmentation of classroom practices means, on the one hand, the disembodiment of practitioner, learner and teacher, actions and capabilities; and, on the other hand, the atomization of representations such as theories (of learning and teaching) and policies. In relation to the latter, in language education, the state of affairs highlighted earlier has been addressed in the method and post-method debate. As Slimani-Rolls and Kiely (2018) point out, both teaching methods and the subsequent focus on an eclectic pool of techniques have served several purposes in language education. They have provided teachers with guidelines and ideas to design schemes of work, plan single lessons and facilitate the implementation of institutional programs. In language teaching, the focus has historically moved from teachers relying on a single method to teachers adopting more eclectic and less prescriptive approaches that accommodate different learning styles (see Skela, this volume). Furthermore, the overcoming of the one-method-only approach and its prescriptivism, together with the advent of new pedagogical orientations, seem to have opened greater agency for teachers. Yet, despite this opening, it is clear that practitioners are faced with issues that are similar to those highlighted by the post-method advocates. As language teachers operate in increasingly bureaucratized educational environments that are oriented towards measurable and successful outcomes, it becomes increasingly difficult to eschew a productivistic logic. As seen above, this logic is bound to flatten idiosyncrasies, engendering unbalance between the multiple classroom spaces and times. Reliance on educational tools to reach specific ends, in already contrived space-time frames, allows only for some of the multiple spaces and time to success to the detriment of others. The picture of a language classroom portrayed here has raised more questions than answers. As capabilities and educational activity become atomized, and theories and policies are abstracted from the life of a classroom, the teacher’s and learners’ bond with cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political world resources is severed. Nevertheless, this state of affairs is not a dead-end. Pedagogical practices that work towards an understanding of classroom complexity, as described in Kostoulas (this volume), can open possible working paths to recompose the two levels of fragmentation. Teachers and students, as practitioners of learning, learn by coming to know how to go on with things (Cunliffe, 2004; Schatzki, 2001; Wittgenstein, 1953/1958); by becoming “stirred into” (Kemmis et al., 2014) the multiple spaces and times of their sayings, doings and relatings. Practitioners learn by bodily experiencing classroom occurrences. In those instances, the abstract and the taken-for-granted becomes lived and experienced as conflict and tension, but also as desire and enjoyment. The possibility of experiencing such conflicts, but also aspirations, is tantamount to tapping into the complexity of what I previously referred as practical, ethical, affective and
cognitive ecologies. A practitioner-enquiry is one possible way to tap into those ecologies. By imbuing the life of the classroom with new nuances of meaning, it reconstructs times and spaces.
5 Understanding Everyday Practices: Quality Over Quantity In this chapter, I have sought to retrieve lines of practice, thought and theory that might have converged into an understanding of my practice, as a language educator and an Exploratory Practice practitioner-researcher. As mentioned at the outset, and reiterated throughout the chapter, an understanding of what grounds my educational action and theory is something difficult to pin down. Part of what I have written here is the result of conceptualizations that took shape while reflecting on my practitionerenquiry. Some of what I wrote has already taken a new turn and nuances of meaning, as I sought to outline all possible lines of mutual influence. Understanding is emergent and emerging in the sense advanced in Sect. 1: as a state changing into something radically qualitative. Thus, the synthesis between the different remits of my practice, which I set out to achieve in Sect. 1, is still at an attempt stage. However, I have a clear sense of how the synergies springing from juggling different professional roles have enriched my professional identity. This would never have happened if I had not reflected upon, investigated and experienced the epistemological, the ontological, and the ethical dimensions of my practice, both practically and theoretically. As I have hinted hitherto, practitioner-enquiry, in particular, Exploratory Practice, has been pivotal in reframing my pedagogical everyday practice but also in shedding light on the difficulty of challenging classroom routine and performativity. From an epistemological perspective, practitioner-research has originated understandings that theory alone has not been able to provide, because the educational constrains that I sought to explore theoretically were to be experienced first-hand. Through puzzling about my practice, and sensing the tensions generated by the many clashing spatio-temporalities inhabiting my classroom, I was to confront the boundaries between classroom and life. This has allowed me to discover, re-discover and further investigate the many ecologies underpinning my classroom: the affective, the cognitive and, importantly, the ethical. This was made possible by engaging dialogically with my students so that they could create new space and time to express their capabilities and self-develop, rather than just reaching out the finishing line of their exams. Finally, from an ontological perspective, practitionerresearch has been a thrust toward seeking to understand the multi-scalar dimensions of a classroom which through the present stretch out to the past, as traditions, and to possible futures. As I am unable to say which strand of practice or theoretical orientation has had a greater impact on the other, I am also uncertain whether I have left a technical view
Space and Time for Understanding(s): The Recursive Cycle …
of teaching and learning completely behind me. However, my work as a practitionerresearcher continues to feed my understanding of classroom pedagogy as an openended epistemological, ontological, and axiological enterprise.
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Houghton, J. (2018). Gaining deeper understanding of teaching and learning from collaborative inquiry. In A. Slimani-Rolls & R. Kiely (Eds.), Exploratory practice for continuing professional development: An innovative approach for language teachers (pp. 153–167). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Kemmis, S. (2008). Foreword. In J. Ax, & P. Ponte (Eds.), Critiquing praxis: Conceptual and empirical trends in the teaching profession (pp. xi–xvii). Rotterdam: Sense. Kemmis, S. (2010). Research for praxis: Knowing doing. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 18(1), 9–27. Kemmis, S., & Smith, T. (Eds.). (2008a). Enabling praxis: Challenges for education. Rotterdam: Sense. Kemmis, S., & Smith, T. (2008b). Praxis and praxis development. In S. Kemmis & T. Smith (Eds.), Enabling praxis: Challenges for education (pp. 3–13). Rotterdam: Sense. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Cham: Springer. Kostoulas, A. (2018). A language school as a complex system: Complex systems theory in English language teaching. Berlin: Peter Lang. Larsen-Freeman, D. (2012). Complex dynamic systems: A new transdisciplinary theme for applied linguistics? Language Teaching, 45(2), 202–214. Lefebvre, H. (1974/1991). The production of space (D. Nicolson-Smith, Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell. Lefebvre, H. (1992/2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, time and everyday life (S. Elden, & G. Moore, Trans.). London: Continuum. Lecumberri, E. (2018). Mobile phones in my language classroom: A cause for concern or a source of communication? In A. Slimani-Rolls & K. Kiely (Eds.), Exploratory practice for continuing professional development: An innovative approach for language teachers (pp. 105–117). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Miller, I. (2010). Exploratory Practice: Towards inclusive and reflexive teacher education. Tercer Foro De Lenguas De ANEP. Montevideo: Foro de Lenguas de ANEP. Retrieved from: http:// doscubos.com/clientes/3fla/ponencias/023.pdf. Nowotny, H., Scott, P., & Gibbons, M. (2003). Introduction: “Mode 2” revisited: The new production of knowledge. Minerva, 41(3), 179–194. Puig de la Bellacasa, M. (2017). Matters of care: Speculative ethics in more than human worlds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Rawson, M. (2018). Using the mother tongue in the language classroom: Hindrance or help? In A. Slimani-Rolls & R. Kiely (Eds.), Exploratory practice for continuing professional development: An innovative approach for language teachers (pp. 91–103). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Schatzki, T. R. (2001). Introduction: Practice theory. In T. R. Schatzki, K. Knorr Cetina, & E. Von Savigny (Eds.), The practice turn in contemporary theory (pp. 10–23). London: Routledge. Schmid, C. (2008). Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space: Towards a three-dimensional dialectic. In S. Kipfer, K. Goonewardena, C. Schmid, & R. Milgrom (Eds.), Space, difference, everyday life: Reading Henri Lefebvre (pp. 27–45). London: Routledge. Shotter, J. (1993). Conversational realities: Constructing life through language. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Slimani-Rolls, A., & Kiely, R. (2018). Exploratory practice for continuing professional development: An innovative approach for language teachers. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Van Kannel-Ray, N. (2006). Guiding principles and emerging practices for environmentally sustainable education. Curriculum and Teaching Dialogues, 8(1/2), 113–123. Wittgenstein, L. (1953/1958). Philosophical investigations. (G. E. M. Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker, & J. Schulte, Trans.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Reshaping Language Education Practice
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities Through CLIL: An E-learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers Katerina Vourdanou
Abstract This chapter describes an online teacher-training program addressed to EFL and content subject teachers, which aims at raising awareness of the potential of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in Greek public education. At first, the identity of CLIL teachers is studied through the lens of activity theory. The disciplines involved in CLIL (i.e., language & content) are conceptualized as distinct activity systems, which enter each other’s unfamiliar territory, interact, and meet at a third space, where the identity of the CLIL teacher can be created. This boundary crossing is theoretically examined with a view to going beyond a temporary collaboration and forming a CLIL community of practice. Following that, an online professional development program is outlined that aims to develop a CLIL identity and a community of practice. In addition, exploratory data regarding the implementation of CLIL in Greece, which fed into the needs analysis of the program, are presented in order to demonstrate the need for the program.
1 Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to explore how a CLIL teacher identity and a CLIL community of practice can develop through an online professional development program for teachers in Greece. Building on the European Union interest in promoting multilingualism (European Commission, 2003), CLIL is an educational approach endorsed by the European Commission (Marsh, 2002) and favored by educators in many European countries including Greece. Although not officially integrated in the Greek curriculum, CLIL is present in Greek schools via pilot programs (Mattheoudakis & Alexiou, 2017). The CLIL disciplinary synergies powerfully challenge the idea of curricular boundaries and reshape teacher identity in schools. The development of a teacher identity shaped by CLIL is explored in this chapter through Activity Theory (Akkerman & Meijer, 2011). In this perspective, language and content teaching and K. Vourdanou (B) Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_6
learning are conceptualized as distinct activity systems, which enter each other’s territory, interact and meet at a third space, where the identity of CLIL teachers can emerge. Building on this theoretical perspective, an online teacher education project is outlined, which aims to support the growth of such identities, and to foster the development of a CLIL community of practice that goes beyond a temporary collaboration, and aims at forming a CLIL community of practice.
2 CLIL: A Brief Outline While there is not universal consensus about what Content and Language Integrated Learning actually means, Dalton-Puffer notes that: The acronym CLIL has been used to refer to all those teaching approaches in which the foreign language is used as the vehicle for content transmission and although attention is paid to language issues in general, the focus is on meaning. (2011, p. 186)
In broad terms, CLIL is defined as a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for learning and teaching of content and language aims (Marsh, Mehisto, Wolff, & Frigols-Martin, 2012). In this sense, CLIL involves challenging traditional boundaries between curricular areas, since language and content are not seen as separate entities but as interrelating disciplines. The integration of content and language takes place in four junction points, outlined on the 4Cs framework: content, cognition, communication, and culture (Coyle, 2008). Content does not simply refer to input but rather focuses on the development of the learners’ knowledge and skills through scaffolded learning. Cognition in CLIL, as opposed to traditional EFL practices, addresses the learners’ high-order thinking skills in relation to both content and language. With regard to communication, language is encountered, produced and learnt in the context of the content aims. Finally, the fourth component of the framework refers to the relationship among cultures and languages. In this perspective, culture and intercultural understanding constitute an important part of the CLIL conceptual framework, as they promote deeper learning and social cohesion (Coyle, Holmes, & King, 2009). Beyond this basic theoretical outline of CLIL, we should reflect on the “umbrella term” issue. It sounds flexible and convenient to talk about a pedagogy that is all-inclusive, that every teacher can interpret the matter of “language and content integration” according to their personal beliefs, knowledge and teaching context. As Hüttner, Dalton-Puffer, and Smit (2013, p. 275) have acknowledged, “beliefs are important contributors to how CLIL is defined and manifested,” but at the same time “CLIL in itself has the potential to influence teacher mindsets” (Sasajima, 2013, p. 64). While this is to be expected among pedagogies and practitioners, it appears problematic in CLIL. It seems that the varying understandings and the diversity of the practical realizations of CLIL that are encountered in diverse contexts can pose challenges to both practitioners and researchers (Nikula, Dalton-Puffer, & Garcia, 2013).
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities …
While the 4Cs framework and dual-focus definition provide some direction, there is much heterogeneity in the ways that CLIL is conceptualized and implemented. In 2005, more than 216 types of CLIL programs had been documented (Grin, 2005, cited in Hansen & Vaukins, 2011), and it is likely that this diversity has grown since. However, the flexibility of the theoretical underpinnings of CLIL and the absence of formal teacher training on the integration of content and language teaching (Tan, 2011) has contributed to the creation of a fuzzy and grey area where CLIL stands. The ambiguity revolving around the methodology of CLIL is clearly reflected in the observation that CLIL has a long way to cover to become a consolidated and fully articulated model (Dalton-Puffer, 2008). Skinnari & Bovellan (2016) have vividly described CLIL like a pendulum that swings back and forth from the content component being subservient to the linguistic one, and vice versa. Cañado (2017) has also referred to the pendulum effect and how this has initiated a phase in CLIL research that pessimistically presents CLIL implementation as an infeasible endeavor. Bruton (2015) and Paran (2013) have contributed to this pessimism by pointing out the lack of homogeneity and distinctiveness, as well as perceived deficiencies in the implementation of CLIL. Also, the validity of research on CLIL effects seems to be compromised because of the prevailing lack of conceptual clarity. CLIL is often confused with CBI (ContentBased Instruction), which is seen as considered to be the American-Canadian counterpart of CLIL. Despite the superficial resemblance between the two, CBI differs in the sense that the focus is on subject matter learning, rather than dual. Immersion, another educational approach that is often confused with CLIL (Cenoz, Genesee, & Gorter, 2013; Somers & Surmont, 2012), was originally successful in Canada, where such programs have been initiated since the 1960s. Immersion programs are “carried out in languages present in the students’ context” (Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2009, p. 370), aim at developing native-like competence, and involve instruction in the L2 for at least 50% of their school day (Devos, 2016). Unlike immersion, “the languages of instruction for CLIL programmes are foreign languages and many of the students only have contact with them in formal instruction contexts” and as far as reaching native-like L2 proficiency, “CLIL programmes cannot have such a far-reaching objective” (Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2009, p. 370). Consequently, CLIL “is claimed to be a fusion of a number of theories and approaches” (Ioannou Georgiou, 2012, p. 496) and it is mostly in the hands of the practitioners not only to grasp the main theoretical aspects of CLIL but also to operationalize it in a practical way appropriate to the local context. However, the teachers’ perspectives and professional knowledge on how integration is achieved seem to be under-researched. There is a false assumption that integration appears as a natural consequence of synergies between language and content, which—if true—underestimates the value of careful lesson planning and material design. Although experts like Cross (2016) and Cañado (2016) advocate the importance of content and language integration, this cannot be easily pinned down in practice. Apparently, instead of integration, CLIL practitioners often resolve to separation: rather than embedding language teaching within content learning, we observe traditional EFL-driven teach-
ing techniques that largely tend to divorce language from its context, and postpone the teaching of content until students are linguistically ready to engage with it. In theory, we can talk about a holistic view of language and content, which presumably revolves around controlling the variants that affect these two CLIL essentials. These variants are in their turn determined by a series of environmental parameters, including the degree of foreign language and content teaching, the choice of subjects, time exposure, and the linguistic situation (Woolf, 2005). Rimmer (2009) calls these variants the “CLIL mix.” Apart from the degree of content, he adds the depth of content and the involvement of subject specialists. As far as the language component, Rimmer (2009) brings to the surface the issue of the L1/L2 balance. Also, language is seen as a resource of meaning rather than a system of rules. As Dalton-Puffer points out “CLIL does not happen instead of language teaching but alongside it” (Dalton-Puffer, Llinares, Lorenzo, & Nikula, 2014, p. 215). Theoretical reflection on integration though, is not capable in and by itself to lead to the successful implementation of CLIL. As Dalton-Puffer has eloquently pointed out, “a great deal more needs to be done in order to consolidate the theoretical underpinnings of CLIL and create a conceptual framework that is both coherent and applicable to different local conditions” (2008, p. 139). Such an endeavor involves fundamental rethinking of the teachers’ identity, as well as developing conceptual, linguistic, and pragmatic skills that can be brought to bear on teaching. These two aims are discussed in the following sections.
3 The Identity of CLIL Teachers 3.1 Teaching at the Boundary It is clear that “stepping outside one’s comfort zone into partly uncharted territory is an essential step in the CLIL journey” (Mehisto, Marsh, & Frigols, 2008, p. 27). This process could be paralleled to boundary crossing. In this perspective, boundaries are defined as socio-cultural differences leading to discontinuity in action or interaction (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011b). However, as Akkerman and Bakker go on to note, “these boundaries are not necessarily barriers which impede continuity but they rather act as the driving force which urges people to reconsider their assumptions and look beyond what is known and familiar” (p. 2). Wenger (2000, p. 233), who mostly focused on learning within the communities of practice, also described the learning potential of boundaries noticing that: there is something disquieting, humbling at times, yet exciting and attractive about such close encounters with the unknown, with the mystery of “otherness”: a chance to explore the edge of your competence, learn something entirely new, revisit your little truths, and perhaps expand your horizon.
In language education, “boundaries” can refer to the disciplinary boundaries that separate the practices, discourses, and cultures of language teaching, from the practices,
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities …
discourses, and cultures of other subject specialisms (see also Tatzl, this volume). Seen through this perspective, CLIL teachers engage in boundary crossing as “brokers,” a term used by Akkerman and Bakker (2011b) to describe individuals who exchange elements among communities by virtue of being either members of multiple communities or transients from one to another. Teachers who deliver CLIL courses are very diverse in terms of background. In secondary education, they are usually specialists in non-language subjects, although in some settings (e.g., Austria) they have two areas of specialization, in a language and non-language subject (Eurydice, 2006). In primary education, CLIL is often integrated in the teaching practices of EFL teachers, possibly with appropriate assistance and guidance from generalists. Such arrangements, where the teachers preserve their disciplinary identity, are often pedagogically unsatisfactory. For instance, Mehisto (2008) reports that CLIL classes taught by content teachers featured insufficient linguistic scaffolding, except in the form of unnecessary translation. Similarly, Cañado (2016) notes deficits in CLIL methodology on the part of content teachers. What these studies suggest is that, for content teachers, proficiency in the target language is not adequate for achieving integration, since CLIL involves more than translation. Conversely, it is also questionable whether language teachers can always successfully handle the complexities of content. What seems necessary, instead, is proficiency in hybrid pedagogy. To be a CLIL teacher means to reconsider one’s assumptions and look beyond what one is already familiar with. The product of CLIL teaching relies on intersubjectivity, a joint activity process in which progress starts from heterogeneity and reaches increasing symmetry among the individuals’ perspectives and prolepses (Matusov, 2001). Intersubjectivity, a concept initially used in the psychology of communication, can prove useful when we deal with communities of learners, such as a professional development program, where individuals of different educational backgrounds try to cooperate for the purposes of the same teaching context. In CLIL, disciplinary borders fade; teachers of different disciplines develop the ability to teach at the point where these disciplines connect. CLIL pedagogy involves more than the addition of, for instance, some mathematical equations in a language lesson, or a few English vocabulary items in a mathematics lesson. Rather, CLIL draws on the pedagogy of both constituent disciplines, and forms an integrated model of teaching that focuses on scaffolding and active learning. One could say that CLIL teachers are both learning and teaching at the boundary, trying to forge connections between content and language, no matter what their specialization is. Overall, learning is not merely individual but also societal. Whenever a novelty occurs at an individual level, this constitutes a possibility for others. This leads to an increase in generalized action possibilities and therefore to collective (organizational, societal, cultural) learning (Putney, Green, Dixon, Duran, & Yeager, 2000). The individuals who take part in boundary crossing share a competence that makes them able to function completely in multiple contexts (Walker & Nocon, 2007). Not only do the individuals who participate play a vital role, but so does the learning environment, which supports the boundary crossing and provides opportunities for collaboration. Recently, Coyle advocated viewing CLIL through
an ecological lens, as “what becomes clear when focusing on shared concerns is that they all interconnect” (2018, p. 172). Therefore, in examining boundary crossing in a CLIL teaching context, we should focus on three main factors: the individuals (the “brokers”), the process, and the environment. In the CLIL professional development program that this chapter describes, the “brokers” are teachers, who either come from the EFL teaching context or the content subject context, and wish to engage with CLIL practices. These “brokers” should ideally exhibit a series of characteristics, among which is boundary competence. Stoof, Martens, Van Merrienboer, and Bastiaens (2002) discussed the elusiveness of the term “competence,” which may involve, among others, skills, attitudes, abilities etc., and how all these are related to boundary crossing. They propose “three variables that may increase the viability of a competence definition: people, goal, and context” (p. 348). The process of boundary crossing consists of four major phases: identification, coordination, reflection, and transformation (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011a). Identification entails a search into the identity of each discipline; each individual defines his or her own practices and examines them in the light of the other, thus acknowledging the points where they differ but at the same time realizing his own. Coordination involves a dialogical process, which requires a communicative connection and efforts of translation between the diverse practices as well as enhancing boundary permeability, during which the different disciplines repeatedly cross each other’s boundaries, a process which becomes an operational practice that reaches routinization (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011a). The Moodle platform used in this program constitutes an environment fostering reflective engagement, where the disciplines borders will be crossed so that the “brokers” meet at a CLIL space and initiate the process of transformation.
3.2 An Activity Theory Perspective of CLIL Teacher Identity The theoretical perspective that underpins this chapter is that teacher identity is a process of “becoming” a teacher, and it emerges from the teachers’ engagement with the tasks that are expected of their role. This perspective, which is informed by Akkerman and Meijer (2011), underscores the element of multiplicity, which reflects the multiple disciplinary reservoirs (i.e., linguistic and content) on which the process of identity construction draws. It also highlights the element of discontinuity, which refers to the ongoing process of identity reconstruction, or the act of “negotiating and combining ingredients from different contexts to achieve hybrid situations” (Engeström, Engeström, & Kärkkäinen, 1995, p. 319), which is typical of acting in a CLIL context. Finally, the theoretical perspective acknowledges that identity of CLIL teachers is situationally embedded, and it is shaped by aspects of the teaching context like the expected rules and roles, the division of labor, and the availability of teaching and learning resources. This perspective takes into account the criticism of Coyle’s 4C framework by Hunter and Parchoma (2012), who point out that collaboration and cooperation
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities …
among language teachers and content teachers is often viewed as a normative assumption, and argue for taking actual community factors into account. A key construct that informs the view is community of practice (Wenger, 1998). Such communities provide learning avenues outside defined organizations, deriving probably from the dissatisfaction of traditional learning methods. Building on constructivist theory, these communities entail the transfer of control of the learning process from instructors to learners (Johnson, 2001, p. 47). The perspective outlined above is operationalized through the lens of Activity Theory, which is a conceptual extension of the collective heritage of Vygotsky, Luria, Leont’ev, and other Russian scholars (Engeström, 2009), and is increasingly applied to the study of education. Viewed through this lens, the communities of practice of teachers constitute activity systems, defined as “multivoiced formation(s)” (Engeström & Miettinen, 1999, p. 35), where activity emerges from the interplay between a subject (the teacher) and objects, as mediated by instruments, whereas rules, roles and division of labor also exercise influence on the activity (Fig. 1).
Division of labor
Fig. 1 Activity theory Instruments
Subject A EFL Teacher
Subject B Content Teacher
Fig. 2 Activity theory and CLIL teacher education
Division of labor
Fig. 3 The identity of CLIL teachers
The frame of Activity Theory can be adapted to better illustrate the particularities of CLIL, and also point at the transformatory potential of a CLIL teacher education program, viewed as an activity system (Fig. 2). The center of the system is CLIL and all the other system components are interconnected to it, as well as to each other. Subject A (a language teacher) and Subject B (a content specialist) act collaboratively through the object and the outcome results from collective effort. The instruments, in the modified system, comprise CLIL materials; rules reflect the expectations set by the CLIL theoretical background, and the community reflects not only the one formed within the framework of an online teacher training program but also the school context where the trainees will enact their professional practice. Division of labor, which is regulated by Subject A and Subject B, plays an important role, as it determines the role of the EFL teacher and the content subject teacher not as independent but rather as converging constituents of the system. In other words, the merging of the two is facilitated, and the place where the two disciplines meet is eventually the place where the identity of the CLIL teacher is formed (Fig. 3).
4 An E-Learning Professional Development Program for CLIL Teachers in Greece This section extends the theoretical discussion of a professional development program for CLIL teachers that was initiated above. The ultimate goal of this program is the development of a CLIL teacher identity, which is expected to emerge from the community of practice (activity system) that was outlined in the previous section. In order to better contextualize the program, Sect. 4.1 concisely describes the most relevant aspects of the Greek EFL context. This is followed by an outline of the program (Sect. 4.2) and a presentation of some tentative findings about the target population (Sect. 4.3).
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4.1 The Greek Language Education Context The Greek Ministry of Education has made no official provision for integrating CLIL in public education to date, nor has there been any CLIL teacher training course initiated by the Greek government to date. In this sense, the Greek education system is exceptional in Europe, as one of the few countries (along with Denmark, Iceland, and Turkey) where CLIL is not officially implemented (Eurydice, 2012). On the other hand, bilingual programs have been implemented for many years in private schools in Greece, most of which are affiliates of American and UK schools, and therefore do not implement the official Greek curriculum. Similar initiatives have taken place in university-affiliated “experimental” schools, which enjoy a degree of autonomy in designing their curriculum (Mattheoudakis & Alexiou, 2017). On the other hand, teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) has intensified in recent years. In 2010, the Greek Ministry of Education mandated the introduction of EFL courses in the 1st and 2nd grades of “comprehensive reformed curriculum” primary day schools as part of the Greek Teaching English to Young Learners program (Karavas, 2014). The program was applied experimentally in about one thousand primary schools throughout Greece (Kostoulas, 2018). Providing additional contact hours for foreign language teaching within state schools was a major breakthrough and it aligned with the European objective for multilingualism, which was proclaimed as a main objective of CLIL programs as well (Merino & Lasagabaster, 2018). In other words, the broad aims of the program seemed conducive to the development of CLIL instruction. At the same time, a new curriculum for foreign language teaching in schools, the Integrated Foreign Languages Curriculum (IFLC), was proposed in 2011 within the framework of a new National Curriculum (RCeL, 2011). The IFLC is common for all foreign languages that are currently taught in Greek state schools (i.e., English, French, and German) and applies to both primary and secondary education, where English is compulsory during the first nine years of instruction and optional in the final three. A main principle of IFLC, which sees language as the medium through which cognitive schemata are created and communicated (RCeL, 2011), is also shared by CLIL pedagogy. In private language schools, robust support is provided for foreign language learners of all ages, since these schools offer “courses tailored to satisfy students’ needs that are linked to sitting for a particular high-stakes proficiency examination” (Sifakis, 2014, p. 125). In such schools, the content-driven linguistic goals of CLIL would obviously appear limited, compared to the overwhelming pressure for native-like accuracy that is promoted in high-stake contexts. Moreover, the recent influx of immigrants (see also Kitsiou et al., this volume) has brought to the fore issues of multiculturalism together with intercultural awareness and competence, all of which are central in CLIL. Apparently, “Greece, like all other European countries, faces a pressing challenge (…) to develop and implement educational policies that are able to respond to the rapidly changing needs of an increasingly diverse and culturally pluralized student population” (Gropas &
Triandafyllidou, 2011, p. 401). Some examples of such policies have been developed in the frame of multicultural education (e.g., Fay, Lytra, & Ntavaliagkou, 2010), but CLIL also appears to be very conducive for providing intercultural dimensions to language education for students with refugee backgrounds. In some areas, refugee-background learners outnumber locals, creating a new challenge for Greek education, which has traditionally relied on monocultural, monolingual models. Despite the lack of official statistics concerning the achievement of migrant students, the rising ratio of their drop-out rates could indicate that schools are unable to provide them with an appropriate learning environment (Luciak, 2004). Apart from the inadequacies of the Greek state school system, it seems that some Greek teachers fail to recognize the value of intercultural education, and therefore neither plan nor implement bilingual and intercultural practices (Gkaintartzi & Tsokalidou, 2011). While these practices are not adequately implemented in mainstream classes, CLIL can systematically address these intercultural issues.
4.2 The Professional Development Program Framework In view of all the above, the four-month program that is described in this chapter aims to capitalize on the potential of systematically integrating the CLIL approach in Greek public education. A CLIL community of practice should ideally be based on the three modules that are encompassed in the European Framework for CLIL Teacher Education: approaching, implementing, and consolidating CLIL. First, approaching CLIL involves situating CLIL, adopting action research, examining good pedagogy and CLIL, and focusing on CLIL in the school context. Secondly, implementing includes designing CLIL classroom curricula, anchoring CLIL in the classroom, interweaving psychological and pedagogical aspects, accessing and adapting learning resources and environments, and finally becoming an evidence-based practitioner. The final module concerns consolidation, which basically consists of assessing for learning, networking locally, nationally and internationally, and practicing CLIL (Marsh et al., 2012). The above framework clarifies the process but not the participants’ identity. In other words, it is important to investigate whether this workload will be undertaken by one person or whether it is a collective endeavor.
Table 1 Overview of the professional development program Timeframe
Theory and reflection
Practice and input design
Feedback and discussion
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The program (which is outlined in Table 1 and presented in more detail in the Appendix) addresses the needs of EFL teachers and content subject teachers working in Greek primary and secondary state schools. It will be delivered using a Moodle platform, which includes the syllabus of the course, access to training materials and resources, facilities for communication through synchronous and asynchronous channels. Moodle promotes social constructionist pedagogy through activities that stimulate collaboration and critical reflection, it is easy to install, and it is secure, since all forms are checked and data is validated (Bri, García, Coll, & Lloret, 2009). It is evident that “Moodle is used mainly in education and aims to improve the teaching experience, through the enriching of the traditional training and assessment methods with the ICT-based ones (Gorghiu, Bîzoi, Gorghiu, & Suduc, 2009, p. 56). During this program, CLIL training will mainly focus on: • • • • •
the integration and synergies between the school curriculum and CLIL; goals and objectives of CLIL; ICT tools useful for CLIL teaching; the design of CLIL material as a result of the joint efforts of the trainees; the methodological use of materials, which involves relating strategies and techniques to theories of learning.
Initially, a questionnaire will be used to activate the trainees’ prior knowledge of CLIL, and provide the instructor with an overview of their past experience and schemata. Secondly, CLIL structural and conceptual support aims at promoting the teachers’ reflective and critical thinking skills. Thoughts and ideas will be shared via semi-structured reflective journals and interviews. Most importantly, the program will provide scaffolding for teachers as they create authentic CLIL input, drawing their attention to three main factors: quality, practicality, and feasibility. Trainees will bring their CLIL input into their teaching context, monitor the effect of the action taken and make inferences (Sparks-Langer & Colton, 1991), gather feedback from their students, and share their experience with their co-trainees. The use of the Moodle platform will facilitate peer communication and peer evaluation processes through forum discussions. Finally, the program concludes with the participants’ evaluation and reflection on what has been learnt.
4.3 Preliminary Research on Teachers’ Attitudes Towards CLIL in Greece In preparation for the program, a preliminary empirical investigation was conducted in 2018. This questionnaire-based survey focused on the target population of the program, namely teachers who work in bilingual programs in private schools in Greece, in primary and secondary education. The purpose of this small-scale study was to form a general idea of how CLIL is currently implemented in the private sector in Greece, and what CLIL teachers’ attitudes and needs are. These data will be further supplemented and comparatively analyzed, when data from state school
100 Fig. 4 Responses to the question: Do you supplement your courseware with material you create on your own?
Never 7.69% Often 15.38%
teachers eventually become available. A selection of data is reported below in order to help contextualize the program. The questionnaire comprised 50 questions (35 close-ended and 15 open-ended ones), which were answered by 27 participants, both EFL and content subject teachers. Drawing loosely on the Activity Theory framework, questions were asked concerning the use of teaching and learning materials (instruments), and collaboration between subject teachers and EFL teachers (division of labor). The respondents, whose age ranged between 28 and 60 years old, were often experienced (e.g., some had 25 years of teaching experience), but their professional experience teaching CLIL ranged between one and five years. In other words, CLIL is a new teaching reality for most of them. At first, respondents were asked about the materials they currently use and whether they design their own for their classes. Most of them referred to textbooks produced in the UK (e.g., by Cambridge and Oxford University Press). When asked whether they supplement textbooks with their own material, 38.5% replied that this belongs to their daily teaching routine (Fig. 4). One of the teachers focused on the motivational value of creating material that supplements coursebooks: I design supplementary materials depending on the needs of my students. I often use ideas I find attractive and adapt them for my students. I usually apply course design criteria (needs, interests, age, level, game-like activities to increase motivation, process-writing stages missing from coursebooks, video-based lessons, real-life communication tasks etc.).
As far as initial teacher education is concerned, 61.5% replied that they had never received any preparation for CLIL, probably due to the lack of official provision for CLIL training (Fig. 5).
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities …
Fig. 5 Responses to the question: Have you participated in pre-service CLIL teacher training programs?
When asked about the teacher-training program that would satisfy their current needs, one participant replied that his current need is to: share original ideas and examples about how to teach Maths using group work for example but also other types of activities in which the pupils can participate and develop their communication and scientific skills.
Another teacher focused on collaboration among participants: My current need is the possibility to compare the materials I create with materials of other colleagues. Unfortunately in my school there is only a colleague with my experience, but she has not all kind of my classes, so I have to prepare myself the material and I can have only experience of my classes.
Moving on to the collaboration among EFL teachers and content subject teachers, it is interesting that 13 out of the 26 teachers (one teacher did not provide an answer) responded that it is ad hoc, and follows no planned schedule. These responses indicate that collaboration among disciplines seems difficult to attain, and they underscore the necessity of a program that facilitates it (Fig. 6). Furthermore, concerning the respective contributions of the EFL teacher and the content subject teacher in a CLIL classroom and the division of labor, they answered that the EFL teacher: …has no actual contribution. …can motivate and make the students confident enough to use English. …would be more concerned about CLIL teaching looking after the property of students’ linguistic outcomes in non-linguistic subjects and planning together with the colleague some steps of CLIL.
102 Fig. 6 Responses to the question: In your teaching context, how does cooperation between EFL and content subject teachers take place?
never takes place 11.50%
is planned and organized on a regular basis 38.50%
is random and follows no planned schedule 50.00%
At the same time, the content subject teacher was described as someone who: …stimulates the interest of learners who might not be interested in English. …allows students to learn the English language in a setting where the emphasis is on the subject and therefore promotes fluency - simulates learning through experience much like a native English child learns English,
Generally, CLIL is a risk-taking professional decision for teachers. Those who decide to engage with CLIL should be professionally bold, creative, and willing to take initiatives. The CLIL in-service teachers’ answers disclose an ambivalence concerning CLIL and a need for community, as many of them have expressed the idea of sharing knowledge and practices with colleagues. These teachers have instinctively acknowledged that CLIL is the result of synergies and that each discipline has an important and equal role. What a CLIL teacher-training program in Greece has to offer is a path towards grounded professional confidence.
5 Conclusion This chapter presented an online teacher-training program in Greece addressed to EFL teachers and content subject teachers that aims at raising awareness of the potential of CLIL in Greek public education. The primary focus was to view this program as an activity system, where the different disciplines merge and cross each others’ boundaries in an effort to create the identity of the CLIL teacher. In other words, the hybridity of the CLIL teacher identity is brought to the fore.
Challenging Curricular Boundaries and Identities …
Overview of the CLIL teacher professional development program Theory & reflection (Modules 1–2)
Practice & input design (Modules 3–5)
Implementation (Modules 6–7)
Feedback & discussion (Modules 8–9)
Week 1 & 2, Module 1 Participants: • Complete a pre-teacher training questionnaire • Watch selected videos from CLIL classrooms • Answer a series of open-ended questions • Write a journal in which they reflect on their teaching practices
Week 6, Module 3 Participants: • Study examples of CLIL material • Discuss with co-trainees and share ideas about the importance of input quality • Focus on the issue of cooperation between the EFL teacher and the content subject teacher
Week 9 & 10, Module 6 Participants: • Conduct an in-class survey in order to investigate their learners’ needs and expectations • Use the CLIL tasks they have prepared • Answer a questionnaire • Write a journal
Week 13 & 14, Module 8 Participants: • Create a questionnaire for their learners to gather feedback • Discuss results with their peer trainees
Week 3, 4 & 5, Module 2 Participants: • Study CLIL theory through texts and videos • Study a variety of curricula through Eurydice together with the European Framework for Lifelong competences • Write a journal on the possibility of integrating CLIL in their current teaching situation
Week 7, Module 4 Participants: • Study content subject that is relevant to their teaching context • Create CLIL tasks (EFL teachers & content subject teachers) and upload them • Get involved in self and peer evaluation processes
Week 11 & 12, Module 7 Participants: • Implement the CLIL lesson plan in their current teaching context • Answer a questionnaire • Write a journal
Week 15 & 16, Module 9 Participants: • Reflect on the outcomes • Answer a questionnaire • Are interviewed by the program coordinator
Week 8, Module 5 Participants: • Choose content material • Create a CLIL lesson plan (EFL teachers & content subject teachers) • Get involved in self and peer evaluation processes Note Peer-to-peer feedback and reflection is encouraged throughout the program by uploading all the materials created by the trainees in the platform
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Beyond the Garrison: Global Education and Teaching (Canadian) Literature in the EFL Classroom Jürgen Wehrmann
Abstract The chapter argues in favor of conceptualizing Global Education as an approach to language education distinct from Trans- and Intercultural Learning. A major step to such an enterprise would be the replacement of semiotic concepts of culture dominant in Trans- and Intercultural Learning by a truly multidimensional one, built on insights from ecocriticism and New Materialism. The goal of Global Education in the foreign language classroom should be a deep integration of linguistic, literary, cultural, and ecological learning. For this, the genre of the Bildungsroman provides valuable opportunities, because the growing up of the protagonist is also a process of initiation into culture, in which the basic assumptions of this culture and its relationship to nature can be questioned. The chapter outlines a teaching unit on Margaret Atwood’s novel Surfacing (1972/1991) as an example.
1 What Role Should Global Education Play in Foreign Language Learning? “Global Education” and “Global Learning” are terms used for various attempts to find a pedagogical response to globalization. Until today, quite a few articles focusing on practical ideas about how foreign language teaching can contribute to a Global Education of students have been published. Yet when Global Education in the foreign language (FL) classroom is discussed, an interesting spectrum as to what role Global Education is supposed to play in language learning is perceptible. Especially the relationship to the ruling paradigm of Trans- and Intercultural Learning is quite unclear. Three options regularly recur. The first one understands Global Education as learning about globality and globalization. According to this interpretation, Global Education in the FL classrooms means introducing global issues like global warming, terrorism, outsourcing, and sustainability without substantially changing the way foreign languages are taught. J. Wehrmann (B) Graf Anton Günther School Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_7
The second option would be to consider Global Education as an umbrella term for various didactic approaches developed in order to deal with global issues like “peace education,” “development education,” “environmental education,” and “human rights education” (Cates, 2013, p. 277). Thus, Global Education in foreign language teaching would primarily allow us to link existing goals, issues, and methods to an interdisciplinary context. Julia Hammer, for example, describes Trans- and Intercultural Learning as a division of Global Education (Hammer, 2012). In contrast to these two first approaches, the third interpretation looks at Global Education in the FL classroom as something new and different, as an impulse that can change how we teach and how we conceptualize foreign language teaching. In my opinion, Global Education enables foreign language teaching to integrate new perspectives and methods as well as to transform and develop ideas, objectives, and methods of Trans- and Intercultural Learning within a larger, more political transdisciplinary framework. This involves acknowledging concepts like “sustainability” and “sustainable development” as central to foreign language learning. One reason why such an understanding of the role of Global Education in foreign language teaching appears to be a minority view is that we usually see speaking a language as an internal action within a cultural sphere, which can supposedly be clearly separated from our external sustainable or non-sustainable interaction with the “environment,” nature. Accordingly, ecology seems to be a subject external to foreign language teaching, unrelated to the main premises, concepts, and problems of the discipline. Yet, the innovative core of Global Education is the recognition that the ecological problems of humanity cannot be solved or even adequately understood isolated from social, political, economic, and cultural perspectives. Most conceptions of Global Education developed outside of foreign language teaching thus argue for an integrated transdisciplinary approach and against a clear division of labor between approaches like “environmental education” and “Trans- and Intercultural Learning” (e.g., Addick, 2002; Pike & Selby, 1988, 2001; Scheunpflug & Schröck, 2000). Adapting their ideas to foreign language education consistently would imply a reappraisal of why, what, and how we teach as well as of the concepts, media, and genres we use. This chapter is intended as a contribution to such a reappraisal, concentrating on teaching literature in the foreign language classroom and the concept of culture. First, I will look at the concept of culture and its function in Trans- and Intercultural Learning. Then, I will show why the semiotic concepts of culture used in Trans- and Intercultural Learning are highly problematic in the context of Global Education, before describing an alternative. This will enable me to point out some consequences for teaching literature in the EFL classroom, which I will illustrate with the sketch of a teaching unit on Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing (1972/1991). Since my focus is on culture and literature, one important premise of this chapter I cannot defend in detail concerns the value and effectiveness of reading literature in foreign language education (see for an extensive discussion, e.g., Bland, 2018; Hall, 2016; Nünning & Surkamp, 2006). I can only hint occasionally at the interdependencies of linguistic, cultural, and literary learning.
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2 Ethnology as Language Learning—the Language Learner as Ethnologist In English-speaking countries, a classical reference in English language teaching when explaining one’s concept of culture is ethnologist Clifford Geertz (e.g., Byram, 1997; Kramsch, 1993; Kumaravadivelu, 2008). Interestingly, there is a bidirectional link between ethnology and foreign language learning: On the one hand, Geertz describes ethnology as similar to learning a language. He argues in favor of a semiotic concept of cultures as “webs of significance” (Geertz, 1973, p. 5). According to Geertz, ethnologists are supposed to interpret culture as the context in which the practices of the people they observe gain meaning; ethnology consists of limited acts of interpretation and translation: “The whole point of a semiotic approach to culture is (…) to aid us gaining access to the conceptual world in which our subjects live, so that we can, in some extended sense of the term, converse with them” (1973, p. 24). On the other hand, inter- and transcultural approaches to foreign language teaching tend to conceptualize the language learner like an ethnologist. Foreign language learning is seen as an act of intercultural communication that can only succeed when learners are sensitive to differences of cultural context separating their own and the target language, and when they are able to interpret and translate such differences. This analogy between ethnology and foreign language learning has proved to be immensely productive. Considering foreign language learning as an act of intercultural communication takes cultural context as a prerequisite of both encoding and understanding messages seriously. Of course, the comparison to the ethnologist may exaggerate the differences between many native speakers of, for example, German, Dutch and English. Yet cultural diversity and the encounter with unknown ideas and patterns of behavior remain a common experience within and outside nation states, since globalization does not only result in the dissolution of cultural differences but also in hybridization and the invention of new communities and practices. This is the reason why Trans- and Intercultural Learning can be easily combined (e.g., Delanoy, 2006; Freitag-Hild, 2010). An important advantage of these approaches is that they have shifted the focus from the transmission of “objective” knowledge of the target culture to the process of intercultural communication itself, turning students into active explorers of and mediators between cultures. In an era of output orientation and visible learning in which the relevance of literature for learning languages is questioned, Trans- and Intercultural Learning ascribes to literature an important role as means for perspective change (Freitag-Hild, 2010) and as intertext through which culture as a complex universe of texts can be accessed (Hallet, 2002). Because “understanding a foreign culture requires putting that culture in relation with one’s own” (Kramsch, 1993, p. 205), students also learn to reflect on their own culture and can develop a “critical cultural awareness,” which Michael Byram has placed in the center of his highly influential model of intercultural communicative competence. Thus, according to Byram, learning foreign languages gains a new importance to the political education of students:
political education shall lead learners to reflection on social norms, including those of other societies than their own, in order to lead them to a capacity for political judgement; this corresponds to the aims of FLT (foreign language teaching) to lead learners to respect the norms of other societies and to evaluate them in an unprejudiced way. (Byram, 1997, p. 44)
Claire Kramsch in particular has emphasized the critical and creative potential emerging in the process of learning about other cultures. According to Kramsch, the key aim of FLT should be to give learners space to find their own voice in the foreign language. The experience of the numerous differences between the target culture and one’s own but also within each culture and, most importantly, between oneself and the group one has grown up in is supposed to be liberating. Students should find a “third place” from where they can “think through and (…) question existing practice” and where utopian fragments of an alternative third culture can be constructed (Kramsch, 1993, p. 240).
3 Problems of a Semiotic Concept of Culture in the Context of Global Education Obviously, the ideas and methods developed by inter- and transcultural approaches to FLT can be extremely useful in Global Education. However, there are also certain problems implicit in the paradigm. The most important one is a tendency to a culturalism that absolutizes culture as a freely constructed, self-contained universe of meaning. While Geertz explicitly warns against the “danger that cultural analysis (…) will lose touch (…) with the political, economic, stratificatory realities (…) and with the biological and physical necessities” (1973, p. 30), the semiotic theories cited in many publications on Inter- and Transcultural Learning are eager to isolate culture as a system of signs. Posner (1991), for instance, seems to take a comprehensive view, when he distinguishes between social, material, and mental dimensions of culture. Yet, in fact, individuals, groups, things, and psyches are only considered in Posner’s concept of culture insofar as they participate in a sign system: individuals and groups as senders and recipients of signs; things as coded, reproducible texts; and ideas as codes and norms. Posner argues that instruments formed for a specific practice, like hammers, are also coded as signifiers of their purpose and that everything, even unicorns and black holes, becomes a part of culture as soon as a concept of it is brought into existence. Thus, his theory combines a reductive rigidity with a universal claim of applicability. Such a concept of a culture as a universe of texts is, firstly, highly counterintuitive and hardly acceptable to students at secondary schools, who are taught many different subjects simultaneously. It is interesting to note that in teaching units in which students explore the intertext of culture by wide reading, they tend to translate the texts they have read into descriptions of concrete practices between human beings. For example, a text on the American Bill of Rights might be summed up as “you need proof to arrest someone” (Hallet, 2007, p. 394). Imagining culture as a mere
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sign system excludes emotions, perceptions, and bodily interaction between people or, even worse, reduces them to signs, and it creates an impenetrable boundary between humans, this earth, and the other beings living on it, which is against the preconceptions of young people growing up with pets and an ecological awareness. Secondly, a purely semiotic concept of culture obscures central problems of the ecological crisis. Even if it is not combined with a radical constructivism that claims that ecological problems only exist insofar as they are linguistically constructed, such an idea of culture will regularly lead to an exaggeration of the importance of concepts and linguistically encoded knowledge. For example, Basseler (2014), based on Posner’s theory, writes that socio-economic practices destroying ecosystems today are the result of collectively formed ideas of the relationship between nature and human beings. This may be partly true, but it cannot be the complete answer. Otherwise ecofriendly ideas and knowledge would already have been translated into a determined and consistent transformation of our life style, whereas, in fact, the gap between knowledge of ecological problems and effective action is one of the main challenges of environmental education (see, e.g., Küchler, 2016b). A semiotic concept of culture underestimates the degree to which non-encoded material structures and practices determine human society. Technological inventions like cars or mobile phones participate in reconfiguring societies in ways that cannot be completely attributed to discourses on these events. At the same time, a lot of human behavior is learned and incorporated by observation and imitation, not via language, and these deepseated habits and dispositions forming our every-day life are especially relevant to ecological problems. Thus, ironically, in the context of Global Education, a purely semiotic concept of culture can, thirdly, become an obstacle to an effective application and adaptation of ideas and methods developed by trans- and intercultural approaches. It has become increasingly clear that sustainability cannot be achieved by scientific and technological progress alone. Eco-friendly innovations are regularly set off by rebound effects: Increasing the fuel efficiency of cars, for example, does not reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, if people consequently buy bigger cars and drive more. Spreading abstract knowledge about the harmful effects of practices and suggesting changes in individual behavior is also a limited approach, because it underestimates how much, for instance, driving one’s own car is emotionally charged and how deeply it is rooted in cultural habits, expectations, ideas, and values. Therefore, a “deep” approach to ecological problems that considers how culture as a whole, the complex interplay of individuals and institutions, of ideas, values, practices and artefacts, interacts with nature appears to be more promising. Arne Naess’ concept of “deep ecology” is often only seen as a biocentric position focusing on the reduction of the human population of the earth, but he also emphasizes that the “deep” refers to a radical questioning and rethinking of society and culture, aiming at the imagination of more sustainable alternatives (Naess, 2015). Obviously, there are correspondences between such a deep reflection on culture from an ecological point of view, on the one hand, and concepts of Trans- and Intercultural Learning like “critical cultural awareness” and “third space,” on the other. These correspondences can be used in the FL classroom: Exploring how people speaking
the target language and their culture interact with nature and comparing this with one’s own ideas, values and practices could foster an integrated critical cultural and ecological awareness.
4 An Alternative Concept of Culture for Global Education: Manuel DeLanda’s Assemblage Theory A concept of culture suitable for Global Education truly has to include the material dimension of culture and should describe culture as embedded in and pervaded by nature. Accordingly, it appears to be reasonable, in a discussion on Global Education in foreign language teaching, also to consider New Materialist and Posthumanist discourses in which the relationships between humans, culture, and nature are currently being rethought (e.g., Cooke & Frost, 2010; Dolphijn & Tuin, 2012). A possible New Materialist candidate for an alternative to semiotic concepts is DeLanda’s (2016) description of culture as a specific type of an “assemblage of assemblages,” which he has adopted, systemized, and developed from ideas by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. An assemblage is an irreducible historically individuated whole that emerges and continuously reproduces itself through the interaction of heterogeneous components. The assemblage, as a whole, possesses properties that emerge from the interaction of its parts and cannot be ascribed to any of them alone; at the same time, the components are not completely determined by the whole, but can often break free from it and enter other assemblages. Some assemblages contain “expressive components,” like chromosomes or languages, and are accordingly coded to a varying degree. They can also be “territorialized” to a different extent. Territorialization refers to the degree to which the parts are homogenized, and strict boundaries to other assemblages are established. One of DeLanda’s favorite examples when discussing an assemblage of assemblages is a nomad army. Such an army obviously consists of many different nomad warriors and becomes effective due to the interaction between these warriors and the communication between them, among them orders given by leaders. However, each warrior is only effective as a “warrior-horse-bow ensemble” (DeLanda, 2016, p. 4), and even these units can be described as assemblages of heterogeneous parts. All these assemblages of different scales exist alongside each other, consist of heterogeneous parts, and emerge from the interactions of these parts. In such an army, dramatic changes do not only occur because of orders, but also because of innovations of weaponry or epidemics among the men and horses, etc. In the framework of DeLanda’s theory, languages appear both as assemblages and as important components of assemblages. Thus, the material dimension of linguistic communication—sound, inscriptions on paper, hardware, etc.—is foregrounded, and language is described in continuous complex interactions with bodies, practices, and artefacts. Humans cannot produce all the components of cultures or languages. These assemblages depend on materials from nature: air, water, food, wood, metal,
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and fuel, as well as humans, plants, and animals emerging from natural evolution. Culture in all its forms, including linguistic communication, does not happen in a distinct, separate sphere, is never only a relationship between human beings, but always an interaction with nature as well, and implies an ecological price. Therefore, questions of sustainability and sustainable development can be seen as an integral part of foreign language teaching in such a theoretical framework. To consider a community or a state, for example Canada, as an assemblage of assemblages allows us to include non-textual artefacts as well as the land and nonhuman beings in the concrete, contingent interaction reproducing the whole, without being essentialist or claiming a mystical relationship between people and “motherland.” It is also possible to describe how cultures can contain smaller cultures or lack clear-cut boundaries to other cultures while still maintaining that each culture exists as a unit. Finally, despite its complexity, DeLanda’s theory is completely compatible with wide-spread intuitions on culture so that it can serve as a background theory of teaching without having to explicitly introduce it in the classroom.
5 Global Education and Teaching Literature in the EFL Classroom In a very perceptive analysis, Uwe Küchler (2016a) has shown that textbooks and teaching materials for foreign language education often include ecological issues, but treat them in ways that ignore important insights from Trans- and Intercultural Learning. Mostly, newspaper articles about ecological problems in the target culture are read and discussed, with hardly any references to the learner’s culture. The articles tend to be written in a moralizing tone; they frequently adopt an anthropocentric, or even economically oriented perspective, and betray a great trust in technological solutions. Worst of all, the tasks regularly suggest that these articles are only read in order to acquire vocabulary and foster functional communicative competences. Thus, Küchler concludes, teachers using such material are in danger of failing to achieve both their linguistic and ecological objectives: Without a deeper intercultural interaction, involving a reflection on their own cultural and natural environment, students might learn that others have to change their behavior, not they; and since they do not experience the communication as meaningful, their linguistic competences will be less fostered than in a unit following principles of Trans- and Intercultural Learning. Therefore, the ethnological perspective in foreign language learning cannot simply be superseded by an ecological one. The goal of Global Education in the FL classroom should be a deep integration of linguistic, literary, cultural, and ecological learning. An adaptation and development of concepts and methods of Trans- and Intercultural Learning based on the different concept of culture of Global Education can provide opportunities for that. Instead of teaching the facts on environmental problems once more in the FL classroom, it seems to be more effective to look at the cultural practices that cause these problems and
at the cultural imagination, the narratives, images, and values that let people retain practices harmful to the environment. Comparing ecologically relevant aspects of their native culture to the target culture could help to foster a greater awareness of the interdependencies between culture and environment and might lead to new ideas about how learners want to live. Approaching literature and culture through longer texts like novels and plays or more complex text combinations can offer insights and experiences of global issues that natural or social sciences cannot, as Alter (2015) has suggested. According to the Giessen school of Trans- and Intercultural Learning, literature is particularly important for fostering intercultural competences in the FL classroom, because literary texts present various perspectives on the world that are often very different from the learner’s point of view. Analytic and creative tasks can be used in order to recognize, describe and adopt perspectives of people with a different cultural background. The ultimate goal is to coordinate the different foreign perspectives and one’s own, fostering empathy and tolerance. Although such a coordination of perspectives should also include a critical reflection on one’s own practices as well as other cultures, the emphasis of the teaching units developed by the Giessen school is on perspective change, understanding different constructions of the world and the suspension of premature judgement, consistent with the underlying semiotic concept of culture and its inherent tendency to cultural relativism (see Freitag-Hild, 2010; Nünning & Surkamp, 2006). While not neglecting the textually constructed, perspective character of the storyworld, Global Education will focus on the situations of the characters that can usually be reconstructed as well, even if with varying completeness and reliability, and of which the various perspectives of the participants are one important group of elements among others. Global Education through teaching literature in a foreign language should consider characters in their interaction with the assemblages of assemblages in which they participate. This can be seen as a radicalization of Martha Nussbaum’s description of the theme of novels as “the interaction between general human aspirations and particular forms of social life that either enable or impede those aspirations, shaping them powerfully in the process” (Nussbaum, 1995, p. 7). Despite having served as a major inspiration to the Giessen school, Nussbaum’s concept of novel reading as “public reasoning” significantly differs from their trans- and intercultural approach. Whereas the Giessen school concentrates on understanding different attitudes, ideas and sets of values, Nussbaum also includes the concrete situations of the characters, their needs, the conditions they have to live in and the actions they take in order to cope with them. Since she is more interested in how the characters act and what happens to them, Nussbaum lays more emphasis on the rational moral judgement of the reader. Accordingly, the interest in coordinating conflicting perceptions as a goal of education is widened into fostering the reflection on justice, on the usage and distribution of goods, rights and chances, of which the expression and acknowledgement of cultural identities is only one aspect. Indeed, “sustainable development” has to be understood as a concept of global and intergenerational justice. The influential World Commission on Environment and Development defined it as a development that “meets the needs of the present
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without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (1987, p. 16); sustainable development aims at reconciling global environmental, economic, social and political concerns. That a normative idea is central to Global Education seems to justify critics who warn against the danger of indoctrination inherent in eco-didactics (e.g., Volkmann, 2015). However, in fact, as soon as the idea of sustainable development is mapped out with its economic, ecological, social and political dimensions, it rather resembles an array of conflicts between different values. Insofar as “development” suggests growth, some eco-critics even argue that the term itself is an oxymoron (e.g., Orr, 1992). Furthermore, it is an anthropocentric concept and can be questioned by biocentric ideas of sustainability that argue that animals and ecosystem also have rights. Thus, practicing moral judgements in the classroom can be prevented from degenerating into indoctrination by foregrounding and discussing such dilemmas (see, e.g., Lind’s (2016) concept of moral education). Longer narrative forms like novels or feature films allow students to reflect on problems of sustainable development in a concrete and complex way on the level of individuals. The genre of the Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, might be particularly useful for that. It has always been popular in the EFL classroom because it invites adolescent students to empathize with the protagonist. At the same time, as eco-critic Helena Feder has pointed out, the growing up of the protagonist is also necessarily a process of initiation into culture, in which the basic assumptions of this culture and its relationship to nature can be interrogated (Feder, 2014). Youngadult novels like those that Alter (2015) recommends for environmental education can be read as popular forms of the Bildungsroman. If linguistic, literary, cultural and ecological learning are integrated, reading such novels need not be an extra, concentrated on an issue many teachers consider as marginal to their subject. The young-adult novel Destroy All Cars (2009) by Blake Nelson, for instance, about an American teenager searching for a consistent, fulfilling way of life in a society he perceives as self-destructive deals with topics central to American culture. By combining it with texts like American car songs, scenes from road movies or extracts from Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia (1975/2009), such a novel can form the starting point for exploring the connections between automobility, nature, and American key cultural concepts like the American Dream or the American Frontier. However, if we want to substantially foster literary learning in higher grades, we should also look for texts of high artistic quality that explicitly deal with ecologically relevant issues, and hold an important position in their literary traditions.
6 In the Classroom: Sketch of a Teaching Unit on Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing Margaret Atwood’s novel Surfacing (1972/1991) appears to be particularly suitable for Global Education through literature. As one of the best novels by one of the most prominent Canadian authors, Surfacing is a worthy challenge for advanced learners
of English aged sixteen or older. Atwood published the novel in the same year as her enormously influential book Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972/2012), in which she tries to identify central motifs and problems of Canadian culture; the novel and the guide can be considered as companion pieces reflecting and deepening each other. Surfacing begins with a journey from a city to a remote lake in Northern Quebec. The narrator, a woman in her late twenties whose name is never mentioned in the novel, is looking for her missing father, a retired biologist. She is accompanied by her boyfriend Joe, her friend Anna and her friend’s husband David, wannabe artists and intellectuals parroting ideas of 1960s movements and subcultures. On their trip, memories of the narrator’s childhood intrude, when she lived with her family in Northern Quebec during the summer months, and while trying to find out what has happened to her father, the narrator starts to break out of the alienated, shallow life she leads: her primarily physical relationship to Joe who values her lack of emotion as coolness (p. 22), her job as a commercial artist selling sugary imitations of illusions (p. 46f.) and the absence of a real connection to the Americanized culture of the city (p. 66), as well as to the Québécois culture of the village close to her parents’ cabin (p. 5). This revolt against her way of life takes the form of an immersion into nature by various approaches—survivalist, scientific, religious, and mystical—finally becoming so extreme that her behavior must appear insane, although it follows its own logic. The central aims of a unit on Surfacing could be to enable students to describe key aspects of the protagonist’s quest for a fitting identity and way of life in a Canadian cultural and natural environment, as well as to discuss interactions between culture and nature both in Canada and in the country they live in. Following a common phasing of tasks in Trans- and Intercultural Learning (e.g., Müller-Hartmann, Schocker, & Pant, 2013), the unit would begin with an activation of prior knowledge focusing on the student’s own cultural and natural environment. This could, for example, be achieved with a visit to a local forest or park in groups of three to five students. The students are asked to look for natural things and beings on the one hand, and man-made things and indications of human interferences with nature on the other. They are required to document their most interesting findings with photos and to note down their spontaneous emotions and thoughts when perceiving these things (for more on this method, see Alter, 2015). During the presentation, the listeners are requested to think about in what way or to what degree the group has encountered “nature,” which will lead to the question what the term refers to, and whether “nature” is really tangible in their surroundings. Then the students are asked to speculate on how a visit to a Canadian forest might differ from their experience. This would also be a chance for students to contribute possible personal experiences of (almost) primeval forests. Another pre-reading task could be imagining a return to their hometown, after having lived in a big city far away for ten years, and writing a diary entry about that, thus approaching the situation of the first-person narrator in Surfacing.
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Reading the novel could be supported by character files on the central characters (the protagonist, her parents, her friends Joe, David and Anna as well as the Québécois Paul), reading logs and diagrams of the character constellation. The discussion should focus on key passages and should be based on a combination of close- and wide-reading tasks structuring the process of reading. The students are supposed to reconstruct the inner journey of the protagonist, in which attempts to solve the mystery of the missing father, the return of suppressed memories and various approaches to the nature around her are complexly linked. Analytical tasks focusing on the rich imagery and the narrative structure of the novel can deepen the understanding of the various phases of the narrator’s crisis. Stylistic devices blur the boundaries between culture and nature throughout the novel, but in different ways. There are bizarre metaphors that emphasize the alienation of the narrator by reducing culture to nature from the detached point of view of a biologist, for example when she describes her boyfriend Joe for the first time: “From the side he’s like the buffalo on the U.S. nickel, shaggy and blunt-snouted, with small clenched eyes and the defiant but insane look of a species once dominant, now threatened with extinction” (p. 2). Later the narrator transfers Christian imagery onto animals senselessly tortured and killed by humans, while at the culmination of her crisis she, just for a moment, experiences a mystical unity with nature, which is accompanied by a break-up of sentences and even language itself. Since certain key issues of Canadian culture and nature are introduced or mainly reflected on in separate passages, groups specialized on these issues can do research on the Internet, in text collections (e.g., Klewitz, 2011) and/or in material provided by the teacher. They present their results on posters published in the classroom and connect them to the corresponding passages (for this method of wide reading, see Hallet, 2002). Quebec and bilingualism, Canadian-American relations, First Nations, the international youth movement of the 1960s, Canadian forests and lakes as endangered ecosystems and the supposedly typically Canadian garrison mentality could be chosen as subjects for such group work. Variations of the garrison motif pervade the novel, and Northrop Frye’s famous statements on Canada, Atwood’s own literary criticism on Canadian literature and the cultural debate their ideas triggered are obviously texts that have to be included in a wide reading of Surfacing. In his conclusion to The Literary History of Canada, first published in 1965, Northrop Frye, one of Atwood’s academic teachers, describes living in a garrison as the typical situation of European settlers during the early colonization of Canada and as the formative experience of Canadian culture. According to Frye, such a situation leads to “a garrison mentality” characterized by conformism and “a great respect for (…) law and order” on the inside as well as by a deep terror of the uncontrolled forces outside, beyond the borders of the community (Frye, 1982, p. 546). Building on this and other observations by Frye, Margaret Atwood identifies “survival” as the central motif of Canadian literature in her influential Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. The challenges to survival in these narratives can be the alien, dangerous nature or hostile natives, but also crises and disasters; the survival at stake may be physical, spiritual or, indeed, cultural as in the case of Quebec or Canada as a whole in the face of American predominance. Frye and
Atwood’s thematic approach to literary studies that attempts to describe Canadian literature as a whole by identifying a small number of central themes and motifs supposed to be typical of the nation has comprehensively been criticized in the Canadian cultural debate. In many articles and volumes, thematic criticism has convincingly been shown to be reductive as to the complexity of the single text and, in particular, as to the plurality of cultures, languages, regions and experiences in Canada (see a summary in Wisker, 2012). At the same time, the garrison has remained to be a recurring symbol and intertextual reference in Canadian culture. In Surfacing, culture repeatedly appears in fragile structures surrounded and threatened by an alien, powerful outside that cannot completely be defeated or assimilated: the house, the garden, canoes or the American-Canadian border. The garrison motif represents the attempt to make the boundaries impenetrable, to exclude the outside, and to become pure and homogenous. The novel emphasizes the futility and destructive consequences of such a strategy, most impressively perhaps in the narrator’s idea of being shut in her head like in a bottle, detached from her body, from nature and from the French-speaking people outside of her family: At some point my neck must have closed over, pond freezing or a wound, shutting me in my head; since then everything had been glancing off me, it was like being in a vase, or the village where I could see them but not hear them because I couldn’t understand what was being said. (p. 99f.)
In her attempt to cross the boundaries and merge with nature, the narrator adopts a point of view from beyond the garrison and understands that it remains dependent on the outside and is harmful both to the outside and the inside. Yet she also learns that she cannot live without culture. At the end of the novel, the narrator returns to the city and comes to this conclusion: “This above all, to refuse to be a victim. Unless I can do that I can do nothing. I have to recant, give up the old belief that I am powerless and because of it I can do nothing” (p. 185). How she could manage that is neither depicted nor explained. Obviously, to imagine possible solutions to her predicament and thus to continue the novel would be an interesting post-reading task—also to write about what “to refuse to be a victim” could mean in the student’s environment. A more concrete post-reading task could focus on the narrator’s criticism of hunting and fishing as entertainment, which serves in the novel as a symbol of the exploitation of nature in general. Research on the function of hunting in the students’ home country or on current discussions how to cope with the return of wolves and bears to regions in which they have been extinct for centuries could be used for comparisons and for mediation tasks. Since the narrator adopts a biocentric position arguing that the killing and suffering of animals can only be justified if it is necessary for the survival of the killer, this can also be the starting point for debates and essays on the general treatment of animals in our society.
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7 Moving Beyond the Garrison Although the first publications on Global Education in foreign language teaching go back to the 1980s (see, e.g., Steinbach, 1987), the debate on this approach in our field has hardly begun because we have only started to consider the possible impact of this paradigm on our key concepts, methods and media. If Global Education is to be taken seriously as an inter- or transdisciplinary project, teaching global issues in the FL classroom cannot be a simplified repetition of knowledge from natural and social sciences in the foreign language but must substantially involve ideas and approaches from the humanities in which FL teachers are trained. In fact, by exploring cultures through film and literature, foreign language learning can make an important contribution to Global Education. Novels like Surfacing allow students to discuss complex connections between cultural and ecological questions and to approach the ecological crisis on the level of an individual. Yet in order to unlock the full potential of Global Education, foreign language teaching must move beyond a purely semiotic concept of culture that has been a major factor in giving the paradigm of Trans- and Intercultural Learning its tremendous coherence, connectivity, and self-sufficiency.
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Freitag-Hild, B. (2010). Theorie, Aufgabentypologie und Unterrichtspraxis inter- und transkultureller Literaturdidaktik: British fictions of migration im Fremdsprachenunterricht. Trier: WVT. Frye, N. (1982). Conclusion to the literary history of Canada. In R. Brown & D. Bennett (Eds.), An anthology of Canadian literature in English (Vol. I, pp. 536–565). Toronto: Oxford University Press. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books. Hall, G. (2016). Using literature in ELT. In G. Hall (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of English language teaching (pp. 456–469). Abingdon: Routledge. Hallet, W. (2002). Fremdsprachenunterricht als Spiel der Texte und Kulturen: Intertextualität als Paradigma einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Didaktik. Trier: WVT. Hallet, W. (2007). Close reading and wide reading: Teaching literature and cultural history in a unit on Philip K. Dick’s “Minority Report.” Amerikastudien, 52(3), 381–397. Hammer, J. (2012). Die Auswirkungen der Globalisierung auf den modernen Fremdsprachenunterricht: Globale Herausforderungen als Lernziele und Inhalte des fortgeschrittenen Englischunterrichts. Heidelberg: Winter. Klewitz, B. (Ed.). (2011). Canada: Dreams and realities. Berlin: Cornelsen. Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kumaravadivelu, B. B. (2008). Cultural globalization and language education. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Küchler, U. (2016a). Fremdsprachendidaktik als interdisziplinäre Wissenschaft: Ökologie, Umwelt und die Inhaltsfrage. In P. Geiss, R. Ißler, & R. Kaenders (Eds.), Fachkulturen in der Lehrerbildung (pp. 179–194). Bonn: Bonn University Press. Küchler, U. (2016b). Signs, images and narratives: Climate change across languages and cultures. In S. Siperstein, S. Hall, & S. LeMenager (Eds.), Teaching climate change in the humanities (pp. 153–160). Abingdon: Routledge. Lind, G. (2016). How to teach morality: Promoting deliberation and discussion, reducing violence and deceit. Berlin: Logos. Müller-Hartmann, A., Schocker, M., & Pant, H. (Eds.). (2013). Lernaufgaben Englisch aus der Praxis. Braunschweig: Diesterweg. Naess, A. (2015). The deep ecological movement: Some philosophical aspects. In K. Hiltner (Ed.), Ecocriticism: The essential reader (pp. 47–61). London: Routledge. Nelson, B. (2009). Destroy all cars. Stuttgart: Klett. Nussbaum, M. (1995). Poetic justice: The literary imagination and public life. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Nünning, A., & Surkamp, C. (2006). Englische Literatur unterrichten 1: Grundlagen und Methoden. Seelze-Veelber: Kallmeyer. Orr, D. (1992). Ecological literacy: Education and the transition to a postmodern world. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Pike, G., & Selby, D. (1988). Global teacher, global learner. Abingdon: Hodder & Stoughton. Pike, G., & Selby, D. (2001). In the global classroom 1. Toronto: Pippin. Posner, R. (1991). Kultur als Zeichensystem: Zur semiotischen Explikation kulturwissenschaftlicher Grundbegriffe. In A. Assmann & D. Hardt (Eds.), Kultur als Lebenswelt und Monument (pp. 37–74). Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. Scheunpflug, A., & Schröck, N. (2000). Globales Lernen: Einführung in eine pädagogische Konzeption zur entwicklungsbezogenen Bildung. Stuttgart: Brot für die Welt. Steinbach, S. (1987). Global Education im Englischunterricht: Ausgewählte Materialien, Anregungen und Spiele. Englisch-Amerikanische Studien, 9, 466–484. Volkmann, L. (2015). Challenging the paradigm of cultural difference and diversity: transcultural learning and global education. In C. Lütge (Ed.), Global Education: Perspectives for English language teaching (pp. 19–37). Zürich: Lit Verlag Münster. Wisker, G. (2012). Margaret Atwood: An introduction to critical views of her fiction. Basingstoke: Macmillan. World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary Engineering Students Dietmar Tatzl
Abstract This practitioner case study challenges the boundaries of language learning and engineering education by evaluating a didactic module on technical English for aeronautical engineering students. It promotes the rationale that students learn English more willingly when their academic disciplines and career fields are acknowledged in language learning task design (Millward-Sadler, Casey, & Tatzl, 2011; Tatzl, 2015b; cf. Bischof et al., 2009). The module described here thus crosses disciplinary borders by employing the construction of a model jet engine to teach engineering vocabulary, phrases, and spoken interaction to 2nd-year undergraduate engineering students (N = 53). The module was evaluated in two consecutive year groups using a questionnaire survey that probed into students’ perceptions of skills trained, their preference for certain didactic aspects, task objectives achieved, and the task’s influence on student motivation. Data analysis was conducted in SPSS® Version 24 (2016) and relied on contingency tables, chi-square tests, and a qualitative clustering of verbal answers. Results suggest that the module potentially fostered spoken and written skills, that language skills were more likely to be fostered than engineering skills, and that motivation was likely to be fostered as well. In conclusion, the perspective adopted here lends itself well to other cross-curricular and interdisciplinary endeavors.
1 Introduction Foreign language learning in a technical-scientific discipline such as engineering involves interaction between different academic and professional cultures. Instead of viewing such cultures as fundamentally opposed and isolated, the current chapter adopts an interdisciplinary perspective that challenges the boundaries of foreign language learning and engineering education by underscoring the potential for a mutual and fruitful pedagogical advancement of both fields. D. Tatzl (B) FH Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_8
1.1 Disciplinary Boundaries and Cultures Disciplinary boundaries and cultures have an identity-forming function for novices in a field, as they radiate a strong integrative force (Tatzl, 2015b). Academic disciplines have been forged by different research traditions and methods as well as by specific educational paths and individual professional efforts of their practitioners. Content, as a body of knowledge, has been shaped and expanded over centuries within disciplinary boundaries, which are, however, mutable and flexible. Furthermore, teaching methodologies are not only informed by general pedagogy but particularly by disciplinary content. Similarly, content shapes professional language and necessitates new terms as research progresses and developments are made. In turn, language carries meaning and thus enables professionals to communicate and produce new content (cf. Stohler, 2006). Boundaries between disciplinary cultures tend to become prominent when interaction between academic areas takes place in one form or another. Regarding content and language integrated learning in higher education, for instance, Airey (2012) revealed potential friction and misunderstandings emerging from the situation when physics teachers are expected to teach language because they regard physics as a universally valid combination of natural and mathematical laws where language plays a minor role. He attributed this perspective to Bernstein’s (1999) model of fundamental differences between hierarchical and horizontal knowledge structures in subject areas. In hierarchical knowledge structures like STEM fields, meaning is regarded as largely independent of language, and progress is made through the integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge to arrive at generalization and abstraction, whereas in horizontal knowledge structures like the humanities, meaning is created through language, particularly by proposing new descriptive concepts or languages to achieve progress in a subject area (Bernstein, 1999). Engineering, in that framework, falls into the category of hierarchical knowledge structures, while English is characterized by horizontal knowledge structures. Engineering students are being enculturated into their content areas and formed by their engineering disciplines. As Carberry and Baker (2018) put it, by “engaging in engineering activities, engineers come to see themselves as part of a culture defined by technology because they are producers of technology and use technology to solve problems” (p. 228). Language teachers, on the other hand, come from different academic traditions and cultures that are by nature words-oriented and rooted in text interpretation and production. Furthermore, engineering has been counted among the so-called hard sciences, whereas languages tend to be associated with the soft sciences or humanities (see, e.g., Yen Dang, 2018). In line with this distinction, engineering has been defined as “the application of natural sciences and mathematics to practical solutions” (Purzer, Moore, & Dringenberg, 2018, p. 168), or, by the same authors, as “a reaction to a novel problem, a novel context, a novel set of users, or combination of these factors” (p. 175). In engineering education, to align scientific knowledge with workplace demands and despite severe criticism of minimal guidance during instruction (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006), project-
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based learning (PBL) has served as “a means to make learning more meaningful than studying the theory alone” (Wengrowicz, Dori, & Dori, 2018, p. 195; see also Casey, 2012; Mills & Treagust, 2003; Tatzl, Hassler, Messnarz, & Flühr, 2012; Tatzl, 2015a), as it allows students to apply course contents to the solution of various kinds of pedagogical, simulated or realistic problems. The primary goal of engineering disciplines regarding their educational mission is to equip students with the knowledge and competences they will need as professional engineers, or, as Airey and Larsson (2018) have phrased it, to develop students’ disciplinary literacy. Disciplinary literacy, however, is not bound to written text but characterized by multimodality and a range of semiotic resource systems (Airey & Larsson, 2018), which fulfill “agreed meaning making functions (…) for a particular disciplinary community” (Airey, 2015, p. 18). These functions Airey (2015) calls “(d)isciplinary affordance(s),” while he refers to pedagogical affordance as the “aptness of a semiotic resource for teaching some particular educational content” (p. 18). Disciplinary literacy in engineering is also defined by industry demands. The authors of a research report commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering concluded that “firms are looking to recruit engineering graduates who combine technical expertise with practical ability, backed up by strong interpersonal skills, including an awareness of commercial realities” (Spinks, Silburn, & Birchall, 2006, p. 59). Another engineering organization explicitly mentions “(e)ffective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains” (Engineers Australia, 2011, n.pag.) as part of an engineer’s profile. It follows that crossing disciplinary boundaries by employing elements from engineering practice in ESP teaching may lead to more intriguing learning experiences for content students (Millward-Sadler, Casey, & Tatzl, 2011; Tatzl, 2015b; cf. Bischof et al., 2009). In that sense, attempting to locate anchor points in the subject discipline to exploit them for language learning serves engineering educators and their mission to equip their graduates with professional skills, and it serves engineering students, who have a keen interest in improving their employability.
1.2 Background In order to cross the borders between language learning and engineering education, the ESP teacher in this study adapted an idea by Millward-Sadler and Casey (2014) and designed an ESP teaching module for engineering students based on engine model kits. The original module had employed an internal combustion engine for teaching English in automotive engineering (Millward-Sadler & Casey, 2014), whereas the current adaptation involved 2nd-year undergraduates in a Bachelor of Science program in aeronautical engineering. Students were given the task of building a model engine following a manual, and they were asked to document their working steps by photographs (Millward-Sadler & Casey, 2014). In addition, they had to produce an improved construction manual in Microsoft® PowerPoint® and
discuss their working steps and the new manual with other groups. A handout containing useful words, phrases, and exercises was distributed to scaffold the activity. Students worked in groups of three, and the total module was split in a building session of 180 min and a discussion session of 90 min. The teacher provided a model kit by Airfix® (n.d.a, n.d.b) for each group as well as further tools and materials to be used in the building phase. Students were asked to bring their own smartphones and notebooks for the documentation of working steps and the production of their new construction manual. The manual needed to contain photographs and single-sentence descriptions of working steps with a limit set to 20 steps in order to control the time allotted to discussion. The teacher scaffolded the task by clarifying and answering questions while circulating in the classroom. In the discussion part, the student groups were asked to display their improved construction manuals on the screen in the seminar room and discuss suggestions on clarity, accuracy, and consistency with their colleagues.
1.3 Rationale The current chapter is set within a teaching strategy that takes disciplinary needs into due account when producing ESP learning scenarios (Tatzl, 2015b). It subscribes to the rationale that learning English becomes more motivating for engineering students when their academic disciplines and professional contexts are exploited for designing language learning tasks (Millward-Sadler et al., 2011; Tatzl, 2015b; cf. Bischof et al., 2009). The didactic module described thus crosses disciplinary borders by employing the construction of a model jet engine as a medium for teaching engineering vocabulary, phrases, and spoken interaction (cf. Millward-Sadler & Casey, 2014). Particularly, building an engine, using tools, and following a manual were practical elements borrowed from engineering and transferred to the new cross-disciplinary purpose of language learning.
1.4 Research Questions In order to evaluate this ESP module, four research questions (RQs) were formulated. The aim was to gain insights into students’ perceptions of the module and its practical implications for teaching and learning. RQ1 Which skills were trained most by this teaching module? RQ2 Which didactic aspects of the module were appreciated most by the participants? RQ3 Which task objectives were achieved in the students’ point of view? RQ4 What was the task’s influence on student motivation?
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2 Methods The research design underlying the current chapter may be characterized as a practitioner module evaluation. It is a cross-sectional case study with a retrospective element, as two consecutive student year groups were investigated to enhance the quality of measurement.
2.1 Participants and Sampling Participants were undergraduate students enrolled in the author’s institution (N = 53). Convenience sampling was used to include aeronautical engineering students who had actually experienced and completed the teaching module under evaluation. Ethical standards for this research were met, as participants had been informed about the nature and purpose of the study, their voluntary participation, and the possibility of withdrawal without consequences for their grading or further treatment in the course (British Educational Research Association, 2011).
2.2 Survey Instrument To answer the research questions formulated, a tailored survey instrument with 10 items was composed and distributed in class after the second part of the module had taken place. The questions mostly related to nominal and ordinal measurement level, with one question asking for free verbal answers. SPSS® Version 24 (2016) was used for data analysis, and Larson-Hall (2010) served as a statistical guide. The questions were the following: 1. Which language skill have you trained most through the model engine task? (nominal) (RQ1) 2. Which skills area did this task foster more (Engineering/Language)? (nominal) (RQ1) 3. What have you learned from this task? Give a short answer. (verbal) (RQ1) 4. Which didactic aspects of the task did you like? (nominal) (RQ2) 5. (Effective language learning: Read the following statements and rate each of them on the scale provided. (ordinal, 4-point Likert scale) (RQ2)) 6. Which of the following objectives has this task achieved for you? (nominal) (RQ3) 7. Has this task increased your motivation to learn English? (nominal) (RQ4) 8. How would you see yourself (Good/Average/Weak language learner)? (nominal) 9. Gender (nominal) 10. Age (ratio)
After a reliability test for the 4-point Likert scale statements, Item 5 had to be excluded from the research, owing to a low Cronbach’s alpha (α) of .264. The remaining data were analyzed by means of contingency tables, one-way goodness-of-fit chi-square tests, and two-way group-independence chi-square tests. The free verbal answers to Item 3 were clustered qualitatively.
3 Results The results of the student survey are split into demographics, quantitative items, and one qualitative item. The main focus is laid on the quantitative part, as this is central for answering the research questions penned. Owing to the small sample size and the nature of the data, the analyses were conducted by means of nonparametric statistical tests.
3.1 Demographics Both student groups were very homogeneous in terms of age, with a median of 22 years, as Table 1 shows. The gender division was predominantly male in both groups, with the exception of a single female student in Group 1. Concerning the selfassessment of their language learning disposition, students mostly judged themselves to be average language learners.
3.2 Quantitative Results for the Module Evaluation The quantitative results for the module evaluation were drawn from Items 1–2, 4, and 6–7 on the survey. Table 2 shows the contingency table for the self-reported language skills trained through the model engine task. A two-way group-independence chi-square test was conducted to assess the relationship between group membership and perceptions of language skills trained. As the assumptions for the test had not been met, however, the six categories of the language skills variable were collapsed into fewer levels to gain sufficient counts in each cell. After collapsing the language skills categories into two levels (Table 3), the assumptions for the test were met. The results, however, were still not statistically significant (Pearson χ 2 = .246, df = 1, p = .620), with an effect size of φ = .07, which is a very small effect size according to Larson-Hall (2010). Table 4 depicts the distribution of group membership and perceptions of the general skills area trained. The assumptions for the two-way group-independence
Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary …
Table 1 Descriptive statistics for biographical variables Variable
Agea (in years)
Good language learner
Average language learner
Weak language learner
Notes N = 53; Group 1 n = 31; Group 2 n = 22; M = arithmetic average; Mdn = Median; SD = Standard deviation; MIN = minimum in sample; MAX = maximum in sample a Missing values because of nonresponse: n = 2; b missing values: n = 2; c missing values: n = 2 Table 2 Contingency table for language skills trained through model engine task Language skill
Sample frequencies Group 1
22.0 % 2.4 %
Notes N = 53; valid n = 41; % within groups a Missing values because of nonresponse: n = 12 Table 3 Contingency table for collapsed language skills trained through model engine task Language skill
Sample frequencies Group 1
Notes N = 53; valid n = 41; % within groups a Missing values because of nonresponse: n = 12
Table 4 Contingency table for the skills area fostered by the model engine task Skills area
Sample frequencies Group 1
Engineering skills Language skills
Notes N = 53; valid n = 52; % within groups a Missing values because of nonresponse: n = 1
chi-square test were met, but the results were not statistically significant (Pearson χ 2 = .04, df = 1, p = .830), with an effect size of φ = .03, which is again a very small effect size. Table 5 presents the contingency tables for the module’s didactic aspects. The assessment of the relationship between group membership and self-reported appreciation of the didactic aspects yielded similar results from the two-way groupindependence chi-square tests. None of the results was statistically significant: Working with a model engine (Pearson χ 2 = 1.76, df = 1, p = .184, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .18 (small effect size); Working with tools (Pearson χ 2 = .26, df = 1, p = .606, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .07 (very small effect size); Using photographs for documentation (Pearson χ 2 = 1.73, df = 1, p = .188, assumptions not met), with an effect size of φ = .18 (small effect size); Using electronic devices (Pearson χ 2 = 2.34, df = 1, p = .125, assumptions not met), with an effect size of φ = .21 (small to medium effect size); Integrating engineering and language skills (Pearson χ 2 = 1.75, df = 1, p = .186, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .18 (small effect size); Working in groups (Pearson χ 2 = .15, df = 1, p = .697, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .05 (very small effect size); Producing an improved manual (Pearson χ 2 = 2.92, df = 1, p = .087, assumptions not met), with an effect size of φ = .23 (small to medium effect size); None of those listed (Pearson χ 2 = 1.47, df = 1, p = .225, assumptions not met), with an effect size of φ = .16 (small effect size). Table 6 illustrates the group answers on the objectives achieved by the task in contingency tables. None of the results from the two-way group-independence chisquare tests was statistically significant: Practising language for components assembly (Pearson χ 2 = .99, df = 1, p = .318, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .13 (small effect size); Communicating to complete a practical engineering task (Pearson χ 2 = .03, df = 1, p = .862, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .02 (very small effect size); Revising jet engine terminology (Pearson χ 2 = 2.94, df = 1, p = .086, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .23 (small to medium effect size); Applying aeronautical terms in context (Pearson χ 2 = .26, df = 1, p = .608, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .07 (very small effect size); Asking for advice and clarification (Pearson χ 2 = 1.05, df = 1, p = .304, assumptions not met), with an effect size of φ = .14 (small effect size); Explaining and describing working steps orally (Pearson χ 2 = 1.11, df = 1, p = .291, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .14 (small effect size); Documenting working steps in a manual
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Table 5 Contingency tables for didactic aspects appreciated by students Didactics variables
Sample frequencies Group 1 14
Group 2 45.2 % 14
63.6 % 28
36.4 % 25
31.8 % 19
35.8 % 64.2 %
61.3 % 15
68.2 % 34
Photographs for documentation
27.3 % 10
87.1 % 16
72.7 % 43
9.1 % 10
74.2 % 20
90.9 % 43
Integrating engineering and language
54.8 % 16
72.7 % 33
27.3 % 20
Working in groups
67.7 % 16
72.7 % 37
27.3 % 16
None of those listed
100.0 % 20 6.5 %
93.5 % 22
90.9 % 51
100.0 % 51
Notes N = 53; valid n = 53; % within groups
(Pearson χ 2 = .15, df = 1, p = .697, assumptions met), with an effect size of φ = .05 (very small effect size); None of those listed (Pearson χ 2 = 2.92, df = 1, p = .087, assumptions not met), with an effect size of φ = .23 (small to medium effect size). Table 7 shows the group answers to the questionnaire item on the motivational impact of the task. The assumptions for the two-way group-independence chi-square test were met, but the results were not statistically significant (Pearson χ 2 = 2.09, df = 1, p = .148), with an effect size of φ = .20, which is a small to medium effect size. In addition, a two-way group-independence chi-square test was performed to identify the relationship between group membership and language learner selfassessment. However, the assumptions for the test were not met, and the results were not statistically significant (Pearson χ 2 = .87, df = 2, p = .647), with an effect size of Cramer’s V = .13 (small effect size). The corresponding contingency table is given in Table 8. Furthermore, one-way goodness-of-fit chi-square tests were performed for Items 1, 2, 7, and 8 to see if all categories were equally likely to have been chosen. The frequency counts for these items are given in Table 9. A separate chi-square for each item revealed that the choices in Item 1 did not statistically differ, whereas Items 2, 7 and 8 were statistically significant. In other words, for Item 1 the H0 that all
Table 6 Contingency tables for objectives achieved by the task Objectives variables
Sample frequencies Group 1
Practicing language for components assembly
45.2 % 13
Communicating to complete a practical engineering task
61.3 % 14
Revising jet engine terminology
80.6 % 13
Applying aeronautical terms in context
71.0 % 17
Asking for advice and clarification
80.6 % 20
Explaining and describing working steps orally
64.5 % 11
35.5 % 11
Documenting working steps in a manual
67.7 % 16
None of those listed
100.0 % 20
19.4 % 29.0 % 19.4 %
Notes N = 53; valid n = 53; % within groups Table 7 Contingency table for motivation Has this task increased your motivation to learn English?
Notes N = 53; valid n = 50; % within groups a Missing values because of nonresponse: n = 3 Table 8 Contingency table for self-assessment as language learners Self-assessment
Sample frequencies Group 1
Good language learner Average language learner Weak language learner
Notes N = 53; valid n = 51; % within groups a Missing values because of nonresponse: n = 2
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Table 9 One-way goodness-of-fit chi-square test results for four items Variables with levels and test
Sample frequencies Observed N
Test Self-assessment as LL
Motivation (learn English)
Test Skills area
Notes a 0 cells (0.0 %) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 20.5 cells (0.0 %) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 26.0 c 0 cells (0.0 %) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 25.0 d 0 cells (0.0 %) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 17.0 b0
choices were equally likely was retained, and it was assumed that the task potentially fostered both spoken and written skills. In the case of Item 2, the H0 of equally likely choices was rejected, as there seems to have been a greater probability that students chose Language rather than Engineering as an answer. For Item 7, the H0 was also discarded, as students were statistically more likely to answer this question in the affirmative. Likewise, the H0 concerning Item 8 was repudiated, as it seems to have been most probable that students estimated their language learning skills at Average level.
3.3 Qualitative Results from Item 3 Item 3 asked for short verbal answers from students about their learning gain from the model engine task. Student replies yielded self-reported learning gains in six categories and one category of criticism (Table 10). These groupings with frequencies of comments were the following: Building an engine (3), Reading a manual (4), Writing a manual (7), Technical English (9), Group work (15), Reflection (1), and Criticism (6).
4 Discussion A thorough discussion of this practitioner case study requires the adoption of multiple angles. First, it is necessary to interpret the results of the module evaluation in their institutional context; second, the research methods need to be addressed in light of practitioner research design; and, third, the teaching module itself commands critical reflection.
4.1 Discussion of Results The two-way group-independence chi-square tests detected no significant differences between Groups 1 and 2 regarding their survey answers, which may be due to group homogeneity and similar learning preferences of the course participants. However, a descriptive discussion of the contingency tables allows for some tentative interpretations of the results. The majority of students agreed that the task had fostered spoken rather than written language skills (Table 3), and an even larger majority found that language skills had been improved to a greater extent than engineering skills (Table 4). These results answer RQ1 and may be explained by the module design, aiming at spoken interaction and language improvement. They further mean that students’ engineering skills were not challenged by the task. The free verbal comments generated further insights into the learning gains and skills trained by the module (Table 10). One student quite ironically mentioned the “exact reading and understanding of bad instructions” in allusion to the low quality of the manual enclosed in the model kit. This is a noteworthy comment, as it implies the respondent’s realization that clear, consistent, and linguistically correct instructions facilitate reading comprehension and, in the end, working processes. Another student confirmed this observation when he or she answered “(h)ow important a clear manual is.” Nine students listed learning gains in technical English, such as “expressing (a) technical problem,” “specific vocabulary,” or “terminology for components assembly,” which had also been a pedagogical objective.
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Table 10 Clustered students’ answers to Item 3 (not teacher-corrected) Category
Building a model
Building a model in English
Careful with the wires How to build an model engine
Reading a manual
exact reading and understanding of bad instructions
following an english manual interpreting partially hard understandable advisories Manuals from china need improvement
Writing a manual
Describe steps as easy as possible. Picture is better than words
Explain working step understandable Explaining what I think, how to build the engine How important a clear manual is How to do not write a instruction manual Writing a manual writing manuals Technical English
expressing technical problem
new words some specific vocabulary specific vocabulary spezific vocables Technical terms terminology for components assembly vocabulary vocabulary and language practising
Communication within a group task
interact with other students free speaking How to bring yourself in a conversation how to work in groups on a single project to split the tasks Interacting with colleagues Interacting with people, practically team work Problem solving in a group talking about a (modell) engine (continued)
Table 10 (continued) Category
talking about technical content team communication team work Team working Working together in groups Reflection
to think about how to solve a problem in the reality
children’s toys are often rubbish
Do not buy an engine from the chinese even if you give your test, it sometimes does not work model engine did not run properly nothing that the model engine runs in the wrong direction Notes N = 53; missing values because of nonresponse: n = 8
RQ2 was partly answered by the outcomes from the item on didactic aspects (Table 5) and the free verbal comments. The module design of building a model engine met with contradictory perceptions from participants, with Group 1 as rather skeptical and Group 2 in favor of the idea. The reasons for a skeptical attitude among learners may lie in the low quality of the model kit, as one student remarked that “children’s toys are often rubbish” and another one said that the “model engine did not run properly.” Deficiencies in tools and instruments have also been viewed as counterproductive to effective learning environments by teachers in a secondary-school science context (Deslandes, Barma, & Massé-Morneau, 2016). Didactic aspects appreciated by learners in the current study were the integration of engineering and language as well as working in groups. These results may be explained by students’ core interest in engineering as their choice of studies and their preference for communicative, lively, and interactive learning scenarios. Peer interaction has indeed been identified as a key principle of effective science teaching in the literature (Satterthwait, 2010). The participants’ appreciation of group work was also obvious from the verbal comments, when some students stated that they had learned “talking about technical content,” “team communication,” or “free speaking.” The answers to RQ3 (Table 6) suggest that the only objective clearly achieved by the module was Explaining and describing working steps orally, which, again, seems to be linked with an appeal of oral interaction for students. Nevertheless, it was sobering that the majority of students did not report further objectives as attained by the module. Regarding RQ4 (Table 7), the task increased students’ motivation to learn English, which agrees with learner feedback from the automotive internal combustion engine module (Millward-Sadler & Casey, 2014). This points to a general appreciation of the jet engine module as a communicative, lively, and interactive pedagogical design,
Building a Model Engine for Language Learning with Tertiary …
whereas a detailed evaluation of its objectives has revealed a more critical stance of learners. Such a general boost in motivation may stem from engineering and science students’ preference for “object-mediated learning” and “embodiment learning,” or, in other words, the way in which “we humans make sense of our perceptions and actions as we negotiate our journey through our surroundings” (Satterthwait, 2010, p. 9). The results of the one-way goodness-of-fit chi-square test (Table 9) lead to the interpretation that the module potentially fostered spoken and written skills, although the majority of answers fell on the spoken skills side (Table 3). The significantly greater likelihood of fostering language skills instead of engineering skills through the module corresponds with the intended instructional design for language learning by means of an engineering task. In other words, it would have been presumptuous to assume that a series of language teaching units designed by a language professional would be able to hone core engineering skills. The fact that motivation was also significantly likely to be increased by this module may be explained by the learners’ disposition towards working interactively and orally in groups as well as by their interest in engineering-related activities. This finding corroborates the module’s rationale that learning English becomes more motivating for engineering students when their academic and professional content areas are exploited for language learning task design (Millward-Sadler et al., 2011; Tatzl, 2015b; cf. Bischof et al., 2009). Challenging the boundaries of language and content instruction by linking language learning with the simulation of engineering tasks thus seems to result in motivating pedagogical scenarios. Concerning the final variable tested for its one-way goodness-of-fit chi-square (Table 9), the strong probability of selecting the Average language learner category may stem from a general tendency of survey participants to choose the medium from available options. There may be a reluctance in many humans to over- or underrate their skills in a certain area, so that the majority in a sample opts for a noncommittal average answer, although this estimation seems rather realistic, judging from learners’ achievements in English over the years of teaching in this institute.
4.2 Discussion of Methods When evaluating the project, we must remain mindful of certain methodological limitations of practitioner research. To minimize any bias potentially caused by the dual role of the researcher-practitioner, a rigorous professional approach was adopted regarding the analysis and interpretation of the available data. Similarly, students were assured of the anonymous use of data, so as to prevent any bias inherent in their student-participant role, and this helped to achieve sincere and accurate answers. Furthermore, the threat of distorted measurements through an invalid instrument was reduced by the elimination of Item 5 from the questionnaire. Likewise, the repeated gathering of data in two consecutive years led to similar results in each year group, which supports the reliability of the survey instrument. Although the overall sample
size was low for quantitative measurement standards, the convenience sample of module participants had prevented its expansion. However, this practitioner study yielded insights into the feasibility of crossing boundaries in language education, which was demonstrated by the module design and evaluation results. Even though objectivity is limited in small-scale practitioner research, the current module evaluation allows for a tentative interpretation of the results beyond the immediate research setting. In other words, the generalizability of the findings extends to other engineering students at the author’s university of applied sciences and even to the target population of aeronautical engineering students around the globe, as industry demands and requirements on engineering graduates resemble each other across borders. Engineering programs tend to attract students who share a passion for their career field and who are numbers-oriented, mathematically gifted, and technophile. It may, therefore, be assumed that the module described in this study would lead to similar responses in comparable educational settings.
4.3 Discussion of Pedagogical Implications Apart from the methodological aspects of the study, the teaching module itself has some strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed. On the practical side of building the model engine, it is an advantage that no paint, glue, and professional tools are required because this eases classroom implementation, limits costs, and circumvents safety restrictions. Working with chemicals or machines might necessitate the relocation of a class to an appropriately equipped and approved laboratory, which could constitute an obstacle in some educational settings. In principle, the more realistic the building process is, the more difficult its integration into educational settings will become. Particularly in secondary CLIL contexts or in other geographical regions, the availability of special rooms, tools, and resources cannot be taken for granted. Another point that facilitates the use of this model kit in class, however, is the low number of 50 parts, which allows its smooth integration into existing courses, as the building time is limited. Furthermore, building the model according to a manual affords didactic variations in the classroom. The manual may be rewritten, as in the current case, but it may also serve as a starting point for additional assignments, such as writing a letter of complaint about missing parts to an imaginary supplier, discussing the usability of the manual, or suggesting adaptations to its register with different target groups in mind (e.g., schoolchildren, professional engineers, product managers, marketing staff). On the other hand, the original construction manual is not always clear, parts often do not fit, and the connections of wires are sometimes weak. In addition, even though the building time was limited by the number of parts in the kit, construction still took comparably long, and in the groups surveyed it was accompanied by silent phases without any communication among students. Finally, the finished model engine cannot be disassembled anymore, so that for new groups new model kits must be purchased. In an environmentally and ecologically responsible world,
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some teachers may feel that not being able to reuse plastic engines is a waste of resources. Alternatively, reusable model kits might be employed, or students may be asked to produce their own model kits from scratch, although this might require careful planning, a medium-term perspective, and sufficient resources available in an educational program. There is value in this project to a variety of readers. Teachers in ESP/EAP settings, for instance, may read the engine module description with a view to introducing similar building tasks to their courses. In this regard, the module may encourage interdisciplinary endeavors in ESP/EAP to create motivating lessons for various student populations. Teachers in CLIL may adapt this module concept for their particular contexts to achieve the integration of content and language by embedding linguistic tasks in an educational framework stemming from other subjects in the secondary school curriculum or from students’ major academic degree programs in higher education. Furthermore, researchers working in ESP, EAP, CLIL, bilingual education, and project-based learning may find aspects of this teaching module that inspire further scientific investigations. In this respect, it would be interesting to learn more about the effects of such modules and projects on learners’ linguistic progress, active engagement, professional identities, or cultural belonging. Finally, curriculum designers in secondary education may be encouraged to implement crosscurricular spaces of interaction between different subjects in schools, so that teachers may receive the flexibility and authorization to conduct joint modules, projects, performances, and events as needed. However, such interactive spaces should be offered to but not enforced on teachers, as they will only thrive if teachers are free to make decisions on content, feasibility, didactics, and scheduling. In higher education, separate projects and elective courses may be offered to students to promote academic choice, learner autonomy, and independent study opportunities, which might also foster the collaboration of teachers across courses, disciplines, and departments.
5 Conclusions The current ESP module evaluation should serve as a didactic example of how disciplinary boundaries may be challenged to increase student motivation and engagement in language learning. According to the student survey, the main skills area fostered by the task of building a model engine was spoken interaction. Students further felt that the module had met the objective of explaining working steps orally and increased their motivation to learn English. ESP professionals should feel encouraged to challenge boundaries in their educational settings to improve language learning experiences for their students. In turn, they may broaden their horizon and gain new didactic perspectives, which will have fruitful repercussions on course design, materials development, and teaching styles. Recent research has emphasized “the need to move across boundaries” in education (Deslandes et al., 2016, p. 229). The pedagogical angle adopted in this chapter lends itself well to other cross-curricular and interdisciplinary endeavors across academic,
professional, and institutional levels. It is an example to be adapted, developed, and personalized for transfer to various cultural contexts. Acknowledgements I would like to thank the students who participated in this module and the related survey. I am also grateful to my teachers in school and at university, who guided me to the knowledge and skills necessary to work in an exciting and motivating professional environment.
References Airey, J. (2012). “I don’t teach language”: The linguistic attitudes of physics lecturers in Sweden. AILA Review, 25, 64–79. Airey, J. (2015). Social semiotics in higher education: Examples from teaching and learning in undergraduate physics. In SACF Singapore-Sweden excellence seminars (p. 103). Conducted by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research in Higher Education (STINT). Abstract and presentation slides retrieved from urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-266049. Airey, J., & Larsson, J. (2018). Developing students’ disciplinary literacy? The case of university physics. In T. Kok-Sing & K. Danielsson (Eds.), Global developments in literacy research for science education (pp. 357–376). Cham: Springer. Airfix® . (n.d.a). Jet engine: A20005 (Construction manual). Margate, UK: Hornby Hobbies Limited. Airfix® . (n.d.b). Jet engine real working model kit: A20005 (Model kit). Margate, UK: Hornby Hobbies Limited. Available from www.airfix.com. Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), 157–173. Bischof, G., Bratschitsch, E., Casey, A., Lechner, T., Lengauer, M., Millward-Sadler, A., Rubeša, D., & Steinmann, C. (2009). The impact of the Formula Student competition on undergraduate research projects. In Proceedings of the 39th ASEE/IEEE frontiers in education conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved from http://fie-conference.org/fie2009/papers/1109.pdf. British Educational Research Association (BERA). (2011). Ethical guidelines for educational research. London: BERA. Retrieved from https://www.bera.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ BERA-Ethical-Guidelines-2011.pdf. Carberry, A. R., & Baker, D. R. (2018). The impact of culture on engineering and engineering education. In Y. J. Dori, Z. R. Mevarech, & D. R. Baker (Eds.), Cognition, metacognition, and culture in STEM education: Learning, teaching and assessment (pp. 217–239). Cham: Springer. Casey, A. (2012). Using project-based learning in English for specific purposes courses for automotive engineering students. In D. Tatzl, A. Millward-Sadler, & A. Casey (Eds.), English for specific purposes across the disciplines: Practices and experiences (pp. 46–63). Graz: Leykam. Deslandes, R., Barma, S., & Massé-Morneau, J. (2016). Teachers’ views of the school community support in the context of a science curricular reform. Journal of Education and Learning, 5(2), 220–232. Engineers Australia. (2011). Stage 1 competency standard for professional engineer (Brochure). Retrieved from https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/ Education/ProgramAccreditation/110318StageProfessionalEngineer.pdf. Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86. Larson-Hall, J. (2010). A guide to doing statistics in second language research using SPSS. New York: Routledge-Taylor & Francis.
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Mills, J. E., & Treagust, D. F. (2003). Engineering education—Is problem-based or projectbased learning the answer? Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, n. Vol., 1–16. Retrieved from http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/10589/20050128-0000/www.aaee.com.au/journal/ 2003/mills_treagust03.pdf. Millward-Sadler, A., & Casey, A. (2014). Getting hands-on: Using model kits in the ESP classroom. In T. Pattison (Ed.), IATEFL 2013 Liverpool conference selections (pp. 158–160). proceedings of the 47th international conference, Liverpool, 8–12 April 2013. Faversham, UK: IATEFL. Millward-Sadler, A., Casey, A., & Tatzl, D. (2011). A study of engineering students’ learning preferences: A multiple intelligences approach. Professional and Academic English, 37, 8–15. Purzer, S., Moore, T. J., & Dringenberg, E. (2018). Engineering cognition: A process of knowledge acquisition and application. In Y. J. Dori, Z. R. Mevarech, & D. R. Baker (Eds.), Cognition, metacognition, and culture in STEM education: Learning, teaching and assessment (pp. 167–190). Cham: Springer. Satterthwait, D. (2010). Why are “hands-on” science activities so effective for student learning? Teaching Science, 56(2), 7–10. Spinks, N., Silburn, N., & Birchall, D. (2006). Educating engineers for the 21st century: The industry view (Research Report). Henley-on-Thames, UK: Henley Management College. Retrieved from http://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/reports/educating-engineers-for-the-21st-century. SPSS® Statistics (Version 24, 2016 (1989)) (Computer software). Armonk, NY: IBM® . Stohler, U. (2006). The acquisition of knowledge in bilingual learning: An empirical study on the role of language in content learning. VIEWS: Vienna English Working Papers, 15(3), 41–46. Retrieved from http://anglistik.univie.ac.at/views/archive/. Tatzl, D. (2015a). A constructionist English language teaching project based on an aeronautical conceptual design challenge. Technical Communication, 62(1), 29–47. Retrieved from http:// techcomm.stc.org/2015/04/a-constructionist-english-language-teaching-project-based-on-anaeronautical-conceptual-design-challenge/. Tatzl, D. (2015b). Constructionist experiential learner-enhanced teaching in English for academic purposes. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Tatzl, D., Hassler, W., Messnarz, B., & Flühr, H. (2012). The development of a project-based collaborative technical writing model founded on learner feedback in a tertiary aeronautical engineering program. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 42(3), 279–304. Wengrowicz, N., Dori, Y. J., & Dori, D. (2018). Metacognition and meta-assessment in engineering education. In Y. J. Dori, Z. R. Mevarech, & D. R. Baker (Eds.), Cognition, metacognition, and culture in STEM education: Learning, teaching and assessment (pp. 191–216). Cham: Springer. Yen Dang, T. N. (2018). The nature of vocabulary in academic speech of hard and soft-sciences. English for Specific Purposes, 51, 69–83.
Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning with Intercomprehension Claudia Mewald
Abstract Planning teaching and learning with all learners’ languages and cultures in mind suggests crossing the borders of monolingual classrooms towards a meaningful exploration of their multilingual potential. A framework for intercomprehension methodology in the context of authentic text production and use exemplifies how transformative and transgressive education can activate a process of Bildung through harmonizing mind, heart, selfhood, and identity. The chapter analyzes how multimodal texts produced by young learners nurture cultural and affective sensitivity, linguistic awareness, identity, and learner autonomy. Pedagogical tasks and methodological strategies aiming at the development of multiliteracies and intercomprehension exemplify how crossing the borders between language, culture, and subject matter can achieve innovation in language education for multilingual societies. A critical view on the modification of language educators’ expectations of learner output is discussed through fleshing out differences between authentic, engaging, and interesting scripts, and such that fulfil the claim for accuracy and conformity. Consequently, the need for transgressing borders of traditional monolingual classrooms in the advancement of education including translingual language use is suggested.
1 Introduction Multilingualism, cultural diversity, and migration are symptoms as well as characteristics of an increasingly globalized world. Positive and negative effects of globalization become more and more visible and their impact is experienced most extensively in and around urban areas, but also in rural regions as a consequence of mobility and modern media. Teachers, who are at the forefront of a rapid change development, have to adapt to a growing diversity in societies, to fluctuating educational needs (see also Moser & Kletzenbauer, this volume), and the complex requirements of multinational as well as multilingual classrooms (see also Schwarzl et al., this volume). Yet, C. Mewald (B) University College of Teacher Education Lower Austria, Baden, Austria e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_9
the possibility to take full advantage of the diversity, creativity, and resourcefulness of these transformed educational contexts has remained largely unexploited so far. Instead, teachers often show little understanding of their pupils’ worlds, because hardly any of them live in their neighborhoods, nor do they share their social or cultural experiences. Curricula do not seem to align to these learners’ needs either. Their content is frequently “rooted in a world and a history completely different from theirs” (Peters & Wals, 2016, p. 181) and ignorant of their experiences and world knowledge. Nor is the linguistic background of multilingual learners, or speakers of languages other than that of the language of schooling, reflected in curricular guidelines or assessment requirements (Nieto, 2018). Moreover, mono-disciplinarity as well as monolingual practice remain dominant, although transgressing disciplinary paradigms, surpassing the borders of subjects and languages aiming at transdisciplinary as well as translingual communication would lead the way ahead towards innovation that takes into account the diversity of societal and social demands (Canagarajah, 2013; hooks, 1994). A consequential approach of transdisciplinary education would consider the uncertainty of knowledge and the complexity of social and cultural issues in aiming at Bildung rather than smaller and smaller islands of knowledge with little connection to each other or the individual’s self (Fischer, Greiner, & Bastel, 2012; Koh & Carrington, 2018; Lotz-Sisitka, Wals, Kronlid, & McGarry, 2015; Wood, 1998). Therefore, designing learning processes and spaces that enable people to contribute meaningfully to a constantly changing and diverse environment seem necessary. Such processes would challenge and disrupt hegemonic structures, powers, and routines which are alien and inappropriate to reality, but have willingly or unwillingly become normalized. Necessary innovation in education would require “a paradigm shift and a transition towards doing better things differently (transformation) rather than doing what we do better (optimization)” (Lotz-Sisitka et al., 2015, p. 73). Together with this request for a transgressive pedagogy, it seems that the end of the exclusively monolingual classroom and the native speaker ideal has arrived (Canagarajah, 2013; Herdina & Jessner, 2000; Jenkins, 2000; Kramsch, 1998). Instead, a conscious and strategic use of all language resources at the learners’ disposal should be employed to create translingual learning environments taking advantage of the linguistic and cultural diversity of globalized classrooms and encouraging cross-language interactions. Doing so would include teaching and learning strategies not only crossing the borders of the monolingual classroom but encouraging transgression into a multilingual learning environment which fosters a transformation of the way we learn as well as about what we learn. As such, translingual practice would enable a move towards communicative competence not restricted to predefined meanings of individual languages, but provide learners with opportunities to use and merge all their language resources in interactions to construct new meanings (Canagarajah, 2013). Moving education beyond noticing the multilingual background of learners, and transgressing towards a continuous and conscious employment of all languages in translingual practice would thus create the paradigm shift modern societies need to take if learners were to be prepared properly for an increasingly multilingual and multimodal world.
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Multilingual education, which should be considered an important task of any 21st century educational program (Jessner, 2006), thus requires educationalists who acknowledge that language education is essential and especially important for people whose linguistic resources create barriers to their access to education or vocational qualifications (Norton, 2013). In this context, the effective use of the language of schooling and subject specific languages is considered as relevant and inclusive as any additional languages to be learnt (Fischer et al., 2012; Schleppegrell, 2008). Transdisciplinary (referring to subject specific languages) and translingual (referring to the language of schooling and others) language competence, however, should not just be seen as the sum of these languages, but rather it should consider “the transformative capacity to mesh (…) resources for creative new forms and meanings (…) fundamental to all acts of communication and relevant for all of us” (Canagarajah, 2013, Introduction). To transform existing educational routines towards transdisciplinary and translingual practice would thus require people “to cross disciplinary boundaries, expand epistemological horizons, transgress stubborn research and education routines and hegemonic powers” and transgress monolingual practices “in order to create new forms of human activity and new social systems that are more sustainable and socially just” (Lotz-Sisitka et al., 2015, p. 74). Still, the challenge to teach increasingly heterogeneous classrooms (see also Schwarzl et al., this volume) has become a demanding but necessary task with which teachers should not be left alone. Appropriate strategies and meaningful analog and digital resources should be at their disposal to accelerate their learners’ language acquisition through becoming aware of their linguistic and cultural potential. The effective use of available languages in liaison with a shared lingua franca, functioning as a scaffold for intercomprehension, comprises an important component in this process of translanguaging, defined as thinking, speaking and writing between and across all languages in a classroom. Conscious meaning making between languages should therefore be at the heart of teaching in multilingual classrooms, where learners should be taught explicitly to make use of all languages, no matter how accurate, and where translanguaging is not banned but anticipated (García & Kleyn, 2016). The framework for intercomprehension methodology (FRINCOM) that is presented in this chapter represents a set of methodological ingredients that are supposed to nurture such learning scenarios for young learners. It aims to exemplify a transformative approach to education which can activate a process of Bildung through teaching and learning across languages and cultures with the goal to harmonize mind, heart, selfhood, and identity (hooks, 1994; Wood, 1998).
2 Conceptual Considerations The main elements of the framework for intercomprehension methodology (FRINCOM) are based on theoretical and practical considerations about the needs and potentials of multilingual learners (Canagarajah, 2007; Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Doyé, 2005; Ebe & Chapman-Santiage, 2016; García & Kleyn, 2016; Norton, 2013)
Fig. 1 Framework for intercomprehension methodology
as well as the anticipated methodological strategies that would help them to act effectively in learning and real-life situations. The FRINCOM consists of six elements that supplement each other in learning situations (Fig. 1). They are neither excluding other components that seem helpful in particular scenarios, nor do they claim the need to be implemented in their completeness at any time. In fact, a selective use is recommended.
2.1 Intercomprehension: Definition and Use Multilingual learners have acquired the ability to understand and use two or more languages. This ability may have developed equally in all skills or only in some. Likewise, the linguistic proficiency in different languages may vary. Few people are equally well equipped in all the languages they understand or use. Teachers have to be aware of this diversity and acknowledge that learners who are able to comprehend aural input may still struggle with its written form, particularly if they are not familiar with the script they are expected to read (Doyé, 2005; Herdina & Jessner, 2000).
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Through intercomprehension, multilingual people have also developed the ability to make sense of spoken or written texts in and across languages they have not yet studied. Knowing and understanding intercomprehension strategies will thus aid teachers in supporting learners to become more effective in their language development. This includes the use of English as a Lingua Franca between speakers whose native languages are different (Bayyurt & Sifakis, 2015; Seidlhofer, 2011). Moreover, multilingual people possess translingual communicative competence. This means that their comprehension and language use are not restricted to the individual languages they produce or understand, but they are able to merge their language resources in situated interactions for new meaning construction (Canagarajah, 2011). Whenever people use several languages in one conversation for the purpose of communication, they engage in translingual discourse. Using known languages to understand unfamiliar ones while communicating in one’s own is called translanguaging (Canagarajah, 2011; García & Kleyn, 2016). This process requires intercomprehension and it works best when we have learnt to do this consciously. However, “(i)t is a characteristic trait of intercomprehension that it does not demand the ability of verbal production in the target language” (Doyé, 2005, p. 7). We thus differentiate between intercomprehension competence, the capacity to understand other languages without having studied them, and intercomprehensive performance, during which people use their own languages and understand those of the other. A typical real-life example of intercomprehension competence is the reading of a menu in a foreign country. Knowledge of the world (KOW), extralinguistic features, such as pictures, and pragmatic knowledge about the sequence of courses, food, and drinks typically offered in a menu scaffold comprehension. If a multilingual group of restaurant guests order food from a menu in an unfamiliar language, their conversation about what is what will most probably make use of a shared language, while the guest who is confident in doing so will order for the whole party, giving an intercomprehensive performance. Intercomprehension has thus become an alternative, or complement to, the common use of a lingua franca. It exploits previously acquired knowledge, skills and strategies, and employs extralinguistic features such as background knowledge, knowledge of the situation or visual support in making sense of languages not studied. It is highly individual and dynamic in its development (Doyé, 2005) and a prerequisite for translingual communication. When learners of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds meet to learn together, they work in genuinely multilingual settings. Classroom work, however, hardly ever makes use of the learners’ multilingual potential. Nor does it promote translingual tasks that allow the learners to use their languages simultaneously or interchangeably in the process of meaning making. Not using these available resources seems wasteful considering the potential benefits to individual learners. Tasks which include intercomprehension are translingual in their set-up. Intercomprehension happens if the learners’ starting points are various input texts they can comprehend fully or nearly fully, while the tasks are expected to be solved in collaboration with learners who may be better at understanding the input but not necessarily in possession of the same information. Sharing information may take all
learners back to the target classroom language to negotiate meanings and solve tasks collaboratively. Depending on age and cognitive development, a multilingual group of learners can be given instructions to carry out more or less complex tasks in their strongest languages, while asked to present outcomes in a language they are all expected to acquire. Such tasks, which allow for more than one input language, and that make use of all languages in the process of negotiation as well as the shared classroom language(s) in the presentation, create natural information gaps. They make the subsequent exchanges and the collaborative compilation of knowledge a natural process of mediation (Byram, 1997, 2008; Feuerstein & Rand, 1975; García & Kleyn, 2016; Mahoney, 1979; Prytulak, 1971). The need for schools to address intercomprehension and not just tolerate but also foster translingual communication derives from the fact that communities and everyday communicative contexts are potentially multilingual. It therefore seems appropriate to stop ignoring or suppressing translingual practice in classrooms (Canagarajah, 2013). Intercomprehension can be supported in various ways. Learning and teaching materials can be designed to make conscious or unconscious intercomprehension possible and to allow variation in the use of languages in classrooms. This can be achieved through flipping classrooms (Bergmann & Sams, 2014) or exploiting dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses, or translation tools (Ebe & Chapman-Santiage, 2016). Teachers who consider variation in language input, foster strategy use, support awareness for and sensitivity to language needs, and scaffold learner autonomy, establish necessary conditions of learning (Marton, 2015) for multilingual settings. Variation and the development of intercomprehension competence thus facilitate translingual competence. Through establishing intercomprehension as a guiding principle, teachers not only foster their pupils in current learning situations. They also provide them with the opportunity to “acquire the strategies needed for the understanding of the texts and utterances of any new language they might encounter in the future” (Doyé, 2005, p. 20). However, this advantageous situation can only be generated if the learners’ languages are given attention and if teachers consciously make use of strategies that make intercomprehension explicit and translanguaging possible (García & Kleyn, 2016) The FRINCOM comprises the following elements: • • • • • •
authenticity of input, tasks and learning space; autonomy in learning and personal (language) development; scaffolding of learning; strategies that foster meaning making within and across languages and cultures; awareness for multilingual potential; sensitivity to culture, self-concept, and identity.
The interplay of these elements is supposed to be important for the effectiveness of an intercomprehension methodology and in the development of teaching and learning materials that are meaningful, engaging, and communicative. However, concrete
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learning situations may draw on a selection of the above or add more components depending on learner needs.
2.2 Authenticity So far, intercomprehension methodologies have been primarily used in young adult or tertiary education (Grosjean, 2010; Helfrich, 1993; Olliver & Strasser, 2010; Pinho & Andrade, 2009). The FRINCOM, however, was developed in the context of young learners’ authentic text production and use. The target group of 6- to 14-year-olds brought several advantages to the process, which were particularly relevant in the element referring to authenticity. The merits of authentic materials for language learning have quite rightfully been questioned in the past. Especially in the context of language education for young learners it has to be acknowledged that the claim for authentic input is rendered difficult, if not impossible. If language is only authentic “in the original conditions of its use” (Widdowson, 1994, p. 386), how could any text produced by adults ever be authentic for children? By the same token, how could any text produced by adults ever help engage students affectively or personally with its language or content? Children and teenagers’ writing and speaking for young learners of their languages not only makes the process of text production meaningful and authentic; it also renders the output inclusive of the recipients’ reality. Through designing texts for peers, the authors make the recipients insiders of their own realities captured in the texts. Finally, their own proximity to language learning experiences helps create texts that are even more appropriate for their peers’ learning. Young learners commonly enter school with a reasonably sound command of their family languages. They bring with them a well-established ability to infer meaning from oral input without understanding every single word because they have had to interpret meaning from additional clues such as body language, facial expressions, sound and tonality from early on. Moreover, they are good at using their situational knowledge and KOW to exploit limited language resources. Children mix or adapt languages they have picked up whenever they communicate. Additionally, they are inventive in creating their own languages and show all kinds of interlanguage in their discourse (Ellis, 2010; Tracy, 2008; Vale & Feunteun, 1996; Vilke, 1982). Families use different language varieties, such as dialects, sociolects or idiolects, and some family members may even speak different languages. Thus, most contemporary homes provide multilingual language environments, and so do most playgrounds. The proximity and retention of translingual language use (i.e., the use of more than one language in a conversation) seem to shape children’s and teenagers’ attitudes towards new languages and “the ability to merge different language resources in situated interactions for new meaning construction” (Canagarajah, 2013, Introduction). Most young children have a positive, relaxed, and unharmed memory of language learning which should be utilized in education. Taylor (1994) considers the classroom a real and authentic place and other researchers support this position if skill-getting (Rivers
& Temperley, 1978), pre-communicative activities (Littlewood, 1992) or languagelearning activities are authentic (van Lier, 1996). Hence, Breen defines four types of authenticity relevant for language learning: the authenticity of the texts used as input data, the authenticity of the learner’s own interpretations of such texts, the authenticity of the tasks conducive to language learning, and the authenticity of the actual social situation of the language classroom (Breen, 1985). These components of authenticity in language learning seem appropriate for multilingual classrooms if learners are encouraged to create or co-create texts with their peers and teachers, if they are given the opportunity to interpret texts collaboratively making use of all their language resources, and—finally–if the tasks and learning spaces are conductive to translingual discourse. The latter requires electronic and traditional resources supportive of language mediation and translation. Reading or listening to texts from peers usually provides comprehensible input because of similarities in lexical range and topical interest. However, if input in a new language comes from peers who are native speakers of that language, different challenges may arise. Although the input may not be overly complex, it may still be hard to understand because of speed of delivery, accent, or lexical density. In face to face (ftf) communication, shared KOW and mutual interest in topics can support successful exchanges if communicators know about each other’s limitations. Moreover, comprehension strategies can help bridge obstacles and the knowledge of the partner’s language level will encourage mediation (Feuerstein & Rand, 1975). These strategies may work in real encounters but fail with input detached from direct contact. In this case, tasks conductive to autonomous language learning as well as the authenticity of the actual social situation of the virtual learning environment (Breen, 1985) have to compensate through providing appropriate scaffolds. For young learners, gamified and playful learning activities providing immediate feedback seem appropriate. However, such applications can only be made use of in meaningful ways, if learners are simultaneously helped to become autonomous users of virtual resources. In the context of 21st century learners, familiarity with virtual environments and readiness to use them do not require consideration. The learners’ ability to do so in an independent and effective way, however, seems to deserve special attention in the next section.
2.3 Scaffolding and Autonomy Scaffolding and autonomy do not necessarily look like a good match because the former makes the learner dependent on material or personal support, while the latter aims at independence and self-direction in the learning process. However, combining scaffolding and the development of learner autonomy strategically seems particularly important in multilingual settings and in the use of virtual learning spaces. To create a shared understanding of what is understood by autonomy and scaffolding within FRINCOM, eight indicators have been selected (Table 1). The indicators
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Table 1 Indicators for autonomy and scaffolding Autonomy
depicted in Table 1 assume that autonomy can only develop if technical prerequisites for independent and self-directed learning are available and learners are not just ready but also able to make use of them. Technical prerequisites range from the ability to analyze one’s own strengths and needs to the selection of achievable goals and independent work with available resources (Sheerin, 1997). Learners may hold a disposition to self-direction in learning, but not be autonomous because they have not yet reached the necessary abilities. This is where scaffolding comes in and where procedural guidance will be necessary to develop the ability to understand appropriate goals and to identify materials that will lead learning. Scaffolds that provide learningto-learn training to help learners become familiar with different learning strategies and aware of metacognitive skills are essential components leading to self-direction (Holec, 1981). However, providing the technical requirements for self-directed learning is not sufficient in achieving personal autonomy. As suggested by Smith (2003), merely carrying out self-directed tasks prescribed by a teacher as a weak form of self-direction is not considered learner autonomy. To be fully autonomous, learners need to be responsible for all the decisions concerned with their learning and the implementation of those decisions (Dickinson, 1994). This includes recognition of learner rights within educational systems (Benson, 2000). To reach the political and social dimension of autonomy, the learners’ active psychological relation to the process and content of learning as well as a balance between structure and agency based on choice and opportunities have to be established (Little, Dam, & Legenhausen, 2017; Pemberton & Cooker, 2012). There are more reasons for a meaningful connection between scaffolding and autonomy. Linguistically diverse learner groups need to be provided with personalized learning opportunities. Thus, materials that are appropriately differentiated have to be available in order to cater for learner needs and to encourage self-direction. The view of learning as a dynamic process of knowledge creation and exploration which varies with every single learner (Herdina & Jessner, 2000) has an impact on the design of learning goals and tasks (Tomlinson, 1999). While the latter lies primarily in the hands of young learners’ teachers, the selection of learning materials and tasks that are appropriate is ideally left to the learners if self-direction is the goal. Meaningful learning for a linguistically and culturally diverse target group, however, should go beyond the opportunity of selecting from resources or topics of interest. Fostering intercomprehension requires learners not only to find materials and scaffolds independently, they also need to learn how to make their own connections and develop personal understandings. In order to do so, they need to employ
appropriate strategies and develop awareness for language as a system beyond their subconscious potential.
2.4 Strategies and Awareness When learners create new and meaningful language based on texts in their additional languages, they usually activate prior knowledge. The most intuitive strategy they use is searching for words or phrases that are similar in meaning, pronunciation and/or spelling in their strongest language. This usually happens subconsciously. Creating awareness of cognates in other languages and their strategic use, however, creates associations that will accelerate the comprehension of language input and the readiness to produce output (Huckin & Bloch, 1993). Additionally, international words can have similar effects on comprehension and fluency and many of them are available and understood by the learners. Making them familiar with cognates and international words therefore has a positive effect on learning. This effect becomes obvious in topic areas related to science or modern media and when using interactive computer games that include linguistic components. Strategies that exploit visual and additional auditory clues to understand what is going on in a text support comprehension equally well as the conscious discernment of tonality and mood in videos. These paralinguistic strategies make use of behavioral knowledge, which involves. the use of “verbal signs to express ideas, emotions and intentions … (and) other norms of behaviour to serve the purpose of conveying information” (Sarıçoban & Akta¸s, 2011, p. 151) as well as situational experience (Doyé, 2005). Cultural knowledge can serve or impede intercomprehension (Kramsch, 1998). It may lead to stereotypes and false generalizations or to shared social practice. The learners’ diverse cultural knowledge and experiences are important in the development of intercomprehension. Thus, cultural diversity of texts including cultural facts and practices can aid intercultural learning. If specific ideas or events in the users’ cultures are similar to those in the target language societies, learners will make helpful associations with the help of authentic texts. If their social and personal lives differ significantly, new understandings of what is likely to happen in certain cultures are developed. Making learners aware of their abilities and what they can already do in their languages is motivating. Encouraging them to make use resources at their disposal to make sense of new input activates strategy use as well as autonomy. No teacher or tool, however, is able to identify all connections learners are making at a certain moment. It is the learners themselves who have to become aware and sensitive to learning opportunities and meaningful connections between their languages. Intercomprehension is a genuinely autonomous process. Teaching and learning from authentic and culturally charged texts can create transformed cultural understanding through sharing new cultures rather than maintaining parallel worlds of cultures next to each other. How successfully learners apply this process of cultural transformation, however, largely remains their private knowl-
Across Languages and Cultures: Modelling Teaching and Learning … Table 2 Indicators for strategies and awareness
Words and phrases
Sentences and texts
Meaning and subtext
edge and results cannot be considered unless they share experiences and ideas in intercultural dialogue. The more autonomous learners are in their selection of input and materials, the faster they will obtain the necessary feedback and help. Targeted diagnosis and feedback on the basis of a theory is required in this process because “any teaching method is most useful when there is plenty of prompt feedback about whether the student is thinking about a problem in the right way” (Hattie, 2012, p. 88). Immediate feedback is crucial for the effectiveness of strategy use. Therefore, automatized, self-directed and collaborative solutions are inherent components of tasks in ftf as well as virtual learning environments. The FRINCOM suggests employing strategies ranging from concrete to creativecritical understandings to develop awareness for words and phrases, sentences and texts, implicit meaning and subtext, as well as metalinguistic elements (see Table 2). While the first three categories can be provided with automatized feedback in virtual learning scenarios, metalinguistic awareness remains in the autonomous scope of its users.
2.5 Sensitivity Sensitivity closes the circle to the other components of the FRINCOM. All elements mentioned are crucial in the process of developing comprehension. In the absence of sensitivity, however, all the other parts can be applied, but they will not succeed in creating understanding within, between, or across languages and cultures. Sensitivity is the overarching element that transcends the other in that any work in language education that does not create real impact on the learners’ lives fails its purpose. Sensitivity is directly linked to the emergence of self-concept and the construction of identity through language education. During the last two decades, the importance of the self in language learning has attained increasing attention (Kostoulas & Mercer, 2016). People’s self-concepts are networks of distinct and at the same time integral, interrelated, and interconnected parts of a global self. One part of this global self is identity, which relates the self to a particular social context or community of practice (Mercer, 2012). The connection of the self with identity renders both concepts to a certain degree dynamic, socially, and interactionally produced. Thus, pedagogical interventions should aim at under-
standing and supporting learners’ varying needs associated with these processes (Morita, 2012) and emphasize the importance of “developing a strong, positive, but importantly, realistic self-concept” (Mercer, 2012, p. 22). In doing so, Norton argues that “language is constitutive and constituted by a speaker’s identity … (and) … discourses organize social existence and social reproduction” (2013, p. 13). She considers discourses in families, schools, and religious institutions relevant meaningmaking practices, while normative views of communicative competence in the field of second language acquisition (Canale & Swain, 1980; Hymes, 1972) leading to what is considered appropriate “usage” are not sufficient in the process of creating communicative competence. Instead, she argues, learners of additional languages should be given opportunities to interact with target language speakers outside the classroom, receive support to avoid affective filters and motivational backing to take risks to overcome fear of rejection and inhibition. In this claim she is in line with Yashima (2012) and Weinert (2001), who suggest it takes behavioral, volitional, motivational, personal readiness, adequate social opportunities, and cognitive language abilities to become communicatively competent. Moreover, Kang (2005) suggests that the decision to communicate in a particular situation is mediated by three factors: security, excitement, and responsibility. While security denotes the feeling of being free from inhibitions to communicate, supported by the familiarity with the topic, excitement refers to the interest, attention and response towards content and partners. “Finally, responsibility is felt when the participants feel a strong need to gain information, when they themselves introduced the topic, or when the topic is one that the participants are knowledgeable about” (Yashima, 2012, p. 125, citing Kang, 2005). Thus, the FRIMCOM suggests creating, furthering, empowering, and finally changing concepts of self and identity through allowing communication across languages and cultures. In order to transform to effective translingual classroom discourse, however, teachers will need to learn how to cross disciplinary boundaries, expand curricular horizons, transgress stubborn education routines, and transcend mono-cultural practices in order to create new forms of classroom practice that is more sustainable and socially just (Canagarajah, 2018; Lotz-Sisitka et al., 2015).
3 Authentic Texts and Tasks The multimodal texts developed in the context of the FRINCOM were produced by 6- to 14-year-old pupils in eight languages: English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Ladin, and Spanish. The majority of the texts are written, and about 20% are video- or audio- recorded. Texts were produced in the pupils’ courses as well as in their free time. Editorial boards consisting of pupils and teachers engaged in text selection prior to their publication. The process of text production and selection created an authentic purpose for learners to produce language. The target group being learners of their first languages encouraged the authors to create awareness for lexical and grammatical appropriacy as well as topical choice. They were asked to produce
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texts they would find interesting, and to select the ones they considered engaging and useful for language learning. Work in editorial boards generated seven criteria for text selection. Pupils decided to publish texts that: • • • • • • • •
create an emotional response, such they consider “cute” or “impressive”; make curious and eager to know what will happen next; are good enough to learn from; are a good read and comprehensible; are surprising or give unusual content; are appealing in their visual design; are more personal than technical; look serious (i.e., edited texts).
Teachers were asked to stimulate text production with as little guidance as possible and to let the learners come up with ideas and topics they would find interesting. Figure 2 provides an overview of the content areas and the distribution of texts among them. Although editorial boards decided that texts should be edited, the appeal for authenticity rather than accuracy still created texts that showed the authentic language of the age group and in giving them opportunity to perform with all its natural flaws. However, learning materials should not be erroneous, so corrections have to be made before classroom use. Necessary changes never go beyond the minimum correction to make texts appropriate, nor do they violate the original authors’ style. Teachers often struggle with such input-texts because the adult native speaker ideal is still what they expect to find in classroom materials. However, the importance of getting students engaged with the language, of allowing them to make the language
Fig. 2 Content areas and distribution of texts
Fig. 3 Nathan about music (video transcript)
their own and helping them identify with it, is widely accepted. We should therefore not let “the teacher impose authority upon them in the form of an alien pattern of behavior (including) native speaker patterns of cultural behaviour” (Widdowson, 1994, p. 387). Taking Widdowson’s point seriously and trying to provide authentic input that is appropriate rather than appropriated, it is believed that the real proficiency in these texts lies in some kind of nonconformity, in letting the authors “speak their mind” (Widdowson, 1994, p. 384). Nathan talking about music (Fig. 3), for example, is not only typical for spoken text in syntactic and lexical design (Luoma, 2004), but it is also full of hints of what is important to him, what he cares for, and what contributes to his musical-self. The text helps listeners not only to understand factual information, like the difference between playing a note on the piano or on the violin; it also gives culturally relevant information about the place where he lives and cultural events. Nathan’s personal engagement draws the listener into the text and the multimodality of the video supports comprehension through visual input. It is not surprising that intercomprehension is fostered. However, doing some meaningful tasks prior to or after listening will support intercomprehension even more. Intercomprehension works best when learners have opportunities to reflect on what they understand, how they understand and what they need to do next to understand more. Materials should therefore provide different ways of approaching input. Offering variation in input supported by visuals or scaffolded learning materials, is one way to support the learners’ understanding. Figure 4 provides an example which demonstrates how engaging in a task in LearningApp supports intercomprehension though pictorial clues, which prepares the ground for the listening input about a girl’s home in Spain. While online materials provide monolingual input, ftf scenarios should be multilingual in the presence of diverse learner languages. In classroom situations, where intercomprehension and translanguaging are consciously focused, materials and tasks can include input in the various languages. Pupils should be encouraged to use prior contextual clues to aid comprehension in the languages they encounter.
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Fig. 4 LearningApp: Las partes de la casa (The parts of the house) (from http://learningapps.org/ display?v=p7tnytr0c17)
Observations from translanguaging tasks show that organizing intercomprehension can never be seen as a finished process resulting in a plan that can be followed. Actually, effective planning for intercomprehension seems to be a dialogic and dynamic process of varying goals, activities, and materials according to learners’ reactions and needs. What may look like a messy process at first glance, commonly turns out to be a structured approach based on a resourceful program to foster learner autonomy. Such designs have to include diagnostic material with a component of immediate feedback to enable teachers and learners to select new and appropriate learning objectives. Needless to say, teachers cannot achieve such preparation alone. As already mentioned in the introduction, they need support in this endeavor. Taking the dynamic nature of translingual lessons into consideration, much of this support should be available through modern media. The feedback framework shown in Fig. 5 was developed for the reading and listening tasks on the interactive platform PALM. It is aligned with the FRINCOM and based on the application of pragmatic knowledge about text type and its social function. Once learners have identified familiar words and gained overall understanding, they can usually apply selective attention to understand concrete information that is explicit and easy to identify. After gist and specific information are understood at micro level, learners can be encouraged to find detailed information in a context. This requires careful attention or reading. The most complex items require inferred meaning comprehension, which is usually the biggest challenge for young readers or listeners.
Fig. 5 Feedback framework: reading and listening
Learners who are developing self-direction in virtual learning scenarios should be able to rely on immediate feedback and support if they cannot find the correct solution on their own. Thus, they have to be given the opportunity to select simpler or more challenging input according to successful or failed comprehension. Input from modern media as well electronic applications for games and activities, meaningful learning materials such as mind-maps, graphic organizers, picture dictionaries, or dialogue frames encourage the development of personalized lexical notebooks to collect words and phrases which may cater the learners’ readiness and immediate communicative needs. Lexical notebooks should encourage learners not just to build up but also to revisit their lexical collections and to supplement them in the course of their learning process with all languages they would like to add.
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Fig. 6 Mind map of The Mitten (from https://www.palm-edu.eu/content/der-handschuh-1/)
The example of a mind map shown in Fig. 6 is typical output multilingual learners create when they manage to engage creatively with an input text and react personally and culturally to it. A young Russian girl took the text and the story of The Mitten presented in the English lesson home, where her mother presented the original version with other animals to her. This is reflected in her mind map (Fig. 7), which is a new design of the story she encountered at school. Her redesign for storytelling in German, the language of schooling, is yet another version of the story, one of her own.
4 Summary Multilingual learners bring a wealth of cultural and linguistic diversity to their classrooms. Making active use of these resources rather than ignoring them opens up new learning opportunities and increased benefits for all learners. Thus, developing intercomprehension competence and practice in translanguaging should become major goals of contemporary education programs. Integrating intercomprehension requires teachers and learners to transgress the borders of monolingual and traditional
Fig. 7 Mind map for storytelling in the child’s third language
classrooms and foster temporary translingual dialogue free from of the constrictions of absolute accuracy and conformity. Instead, moving towards self-direction in virtual learning scenarios should enable learners to make conscious choices about the linguistic resources they use. Multilingual classrooms, however, challenge teachers who cannot be expected to know all languages, nor to produce materials in all of them. In fact, it is the obligation of educational systems to make teachers and schools resourceful and prepared to cater for diverse learner groups. This requires multimodal input and scaffolded learning materials at diverse levels in the language of schooling and additional languages expected to be acquired. Additionally, modern media have to be available for teachers and learners to access translations or input texts in the learners’ family languages. Reaching into the world of authentic materials for learning, care has to be taken to select from appropriate and meaningful ones in the context of their use (Widdowson, 1994). Having the opportunity, however, to link authentic texts with those from one’s own social and educational environment in a multimodal way is “much more than the sum of linguistic, visual, spatial, gestural and audio modes of meaning” making (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000, p. 211). In fact, authentic text production and use open up all aspects of multimodal meaning making and in design. Following Yasima’s model of Willingness to Communicate (2012), any multilingual classroom thus provides a matrix, an indispensable condition, of discourse where communicative needs evolve naturally as soon as the borders of monolingual classrooms are transgressed. In classrooms without linguistic or cultural borders, situational opportunities and social contexts for authentic communication are available as soon as teachers are
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willing to agree to situational and adaptive translingual discourse and to encourage intercomprehension, translanguaging, and multimodal meaning making.
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Pemberton, R., & Cooker, L. (2012). Self-directed learning: Concepts, practice, and novel research methodology. In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.), Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice (pp. 203–219). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Peters, M. A., & Wals, A. (2016). Transgressive learning in times of global systemic dysfunction: Interview with Arjen Wals. Open Review of Educational Research, 3(1), 179–189. Pinho, A. S., & Andrade, A. I. (2009). Plurilingual awareness and intercomprehension in the professional knowledge and identity development of language student teachers. International Journal of Multilingualism, 6(3), 313–329. Prytulak, L. S. (1971). Natural language mediation. Cognitive Psychology, 2(1), 1–56. Rivers, W. M., & Temperley, M. S. (1978). A practical guide to the teaching of English as a second language. New York: Oxford University Press. Sarıçoban, A., & Akta¸s, D. (2011). A new intercomprehension model: Reservoir model. The Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 7(2), 144–163. Schleppegrell, M. J. (2008). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Seidlhofer, B. (2011). Understanding English as a lingua franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sheerin, S. (1997). Self-access and independent learning. In P. Benson & P. Voller (Eds.), Autonomy and independence in language learning (pp. 54–91). London: Longman. Smith, R. C. (2003). Pedagogy for autonomy as (becoming-)appropriate methodology. In D. Palfreyman & R. C. Smith (Eds.), Learner autonomy across cultures (pp. 129–146). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Taylor, D. (1994). Inauthentic authenticity or authentic inauthenticity? The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, 1(2). Retrieved from http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/ volume1/ej02/ej02a1/. Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Tracy, R. (2008). Wie Kinder Sprachen lernen. Und wie wir sie dabei unterstützen können. Tübingen: Francke Verlag. Vale, D., & Feunteun, A. (1996). Teaching children English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. van Lier, L. (1996). Interaction in the language curriculum: Awareness, autonomy and authenticity. London: Longman. Vilke, M. (1982). Why start early? In R. Freudenstein (Ed.), Teaching foreign languages to the very young (pp. 12–28). Oxford: Pergamon. Weinert, F. E. (2001). Leistungsmessungen in Schulen. Weinheim: Beltz Verlag. Widdowson, H. G. (1994). The ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), 377–389. Wood, A. W. (1998). Philosophy as education. London: Routledge. Yashima, T. (2012). Willingness to communicate. In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.), Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice (pp. 119–135). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Redefining Language Teachers and Learners
Thinking Outside the Box: The Impact of Globalization on English Language Teachers in Austria Alia Moser and Petra Kletzenbauer
Abstract Being flexible, highly-qualified, dedicated, and engaged in continual professional development are just a few expectations faced by ELT teachers working in a globalizing world. Not only at university but also in secondary education, strategies of internationalization are affecting teachers’ professional identities. This means that teachers have to step out of their comfort zone—a situation that causes their traditional teaching roles to alter, which has an immense impact on teacher identity. Seeing teachers as “active, thinking decision-makers (…) by drawing on (…) networks of knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs” (Borg, 2003, p. 81), we based our research on narrative profiles to get a unique perspective on these teachers’ inner voices, thus providing us with a better understanding of what drives changing teacher identities. The findings of this qualitative study highlight the role of identity, notions of self, and other psychological factors as vehicles for changes in language teachers’ identities by addressing skills and competencies beyond those traditionally defined for this professional field. Thus, reaching out to fellow teachers around the world to seek help is essential and one of many borders that need to be crossed to succeed in the constantly changing teaching profession of the 21st century.
1 Introduction The process of globalization goes hand in hand with the rising importance of foreign language proficiency, and especially the value of English, seen as the common language of communication across the globe (see Crystal, 2003). Recent research on A. Moser (B) Commercial College BHAK Baden, Baden, Austria e-mail: [email protected] P. Kletzenbauer University of Applied Sciences FH Joanneum, Graz, Austria e-mail: [email protected]
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_10
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English Language Teaching (ELT) highlights the influences of globalization on foreign language learning and teaching, since political, cultural, and economic changes have had a considerable impact on the role of English at all educational levels. In this context, it is worth highlighting the role of English language teachers, as they can be seen as active drivers within this process, taking up an (un)intentional role that strongly affects both their professional identities and classroom practices. It is therefore hardly surprising that educational changes linked to globalization, whether caused by institutional constraints, international initiatives, or professional developments, have recently prompted ELT teachers and researchers alike to explore their teaching identity more profoundly (Kostoulas & Mercer, 2016). Despite such increased self-reflection and awareness of the professional context and the way it changes, teachers’ emotional identities have not received sufficient attention so far (Day, Kington, Stobart, & Sammons, 2006). The lack of empirical work that explicitly focusses on contextualized identities is extremely problematic, given the centrality of identity in the psychology of language learning and teaching (see Sect. 2). In other words, it seems very difficult to draw valid conclusions about teachers’ motivation, satisfaction, and commitment—issues which are usually triggered by “the multiplicity of everyday discursive influences” (Trejo Guzmán, 2009, p. 13) with regard to their personal and professional lives. In line with Holstein and Gubrium (2000, p. x), we claim that “teacher selves have become a complex project of daily living” and need to be addressed more often in ELT research in order to understand language teachers’ professional identities better, and to shed light on their language teachers’ selves, which have been shaped by ongoing changes due to personal, social, and cultural circumstances (see SimonMaeda, 2004). In this chapter, we draw particular attention to teachers’ emotional identities within the Austrian setting, which we view as increasingly permeated by global influences sustained by globalization. Specifically, our methodological design involves six personal narratives, which are used to understand these teachers’ overall personalities in order to get a clearer picture of the drivers of their professional identity. Our understanding of professional identity is shaped by the personality model described by Dörnyei (2017, p. 89), who argues that “narrative identity is concerned with the ways in which people organise and understand their experiences and memories in the form of various narratives, such as stories, excuses, myths or explanations, thereby making autobiographical stories the foundations of their self-concept.” Because the influences that shape the identity narratives are increasingly global in origin and scope, our research design allows us to discuss the construction of teacher selves within a global setting.
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2 Defining Teacher Identity 2.1 The Case for Teacher Identity Research Exploring teacher identity is increasingly seen in ELT research as an approach to help teachers understand educational changes better and in a more meaningful way (Hargreaves & Goodson, 1996). This study builds on this observation, and proposes that a theoretical account of teacher identity in the context of globalization should address four requirements: phenomenological validity, situatedness, dynamism, and potential for change. Regarding the first requirement, phenomenological validity, it can be argued that understanding teaching and learning can only happen once we achieve deep familiarity with the key players in their professional lives, as experienced from their perspective. Thus, exploring teachers’ selves and their identities requires us to get insights into the different roles they play in their lives. This includes awareness and understanding of their inner thoughts about their personal and professional lives, their values, their concepts of teaching and learning, their experiences, including joyful moments and hard times. In other words, to understand teachers, we have to find ways of becoming conscious of teachers’ thoughts to a greater extent. It is in this regard that a narrative approach is most useful, because it renders such thoughts directly accessible. The second requirement, situatedness, is especially important in the context of globalization, as the boundaries between the local and global contexts where teachers are embedded are increasingly blurred. According to Olsen (2008, p. 5): (exploring teacher identities) is a useful research frame (which) treats teachers as whole persons in and across social contexts who continually reconstruct their views of themselves in relation to others, workplace characteristics, professional purposes, and cultures of teaching. It is also a pedagogical tool that can be used by teacher educators and professional development specialists to make visible various holistic, situated framings of teacher development in practice.
Olsen’s frame helpfully draws attention to a number of theoretical features, like dynamism, but what is especially useful is the requirement that any theory of teacher identity should help to tease out how identity develops from the interaction of individuals with settings. With regard to dynamism, in line with Borg (2017) and Varghese, Morgan, Johnston, and Johnson (2005), we also conceive teacher identity as a complex framework that is constantly in flux due to social, cultural, and political changes in people’s lives. Because of this, it can be argued that the teacher’s self is a multifaceted concept in a continuous process of transformation, and thus difficult to conceptualize. According to Trejo Guzmán (2009, p. 56), defining teacher identity “largely depends on the lens through which (researchers) look at reality,” and this suggests the need for a
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theoretical lens that underscores the dynamism and complexity of teacher identity as a construct. Finally, we conceptualize identity formation as a driver of change that sustains the development of teachers. Pennington (2015, cited in Riyanti, 2017, p. 29) explains that “the identity a teacher develops creates that teacher’s self-image as the kind of teacher he/she is or aspires to be and affects the teacher’s choice as to classroom roles and instructional emphases in content and methods.” Pennington’s thoughts align with Wenger’s social theory of learning, which explains identity as a partnership between the social and the individual, creating a sense of “a constant becoming” (Wenger, 1998, p. 149). Identity, in her point of view, is characterized by: the ways we participate and reify ourselves; our community membership; our learning trajectories (where we have been and where we are going); reconciling our membership in a number of communities into one identity; and negotiating local ways of belonging with broader, more global discourse communities. (Wenger, 1998, p. 149)
Wenger’s theory in terms of identity is further enhanced by her notions of identity formation (i.e., becoming). In this context, she differentiates between engagement, imagination and alignment. Engagement is linked to mutual participation when it comes to relevant activities and communication. Imagination fosters openmindedness, which should encourage individuals to seek, take chances, and build new connections in order to recreate their identity and themselves. Alignment describes the way effectiveness is achieved once common ground is found.
2.2 Bringing It All Together In order to describe teacher identity in a way that addresses all the requirements set above, we draw on the model of teacher personality put forward by Dörnyei and Ryan (2015, cited in Dörnyei, 2017, pp. 86–90), in which they adapted McAdams’s model of personality (see McAdams & Pals, 2006). In this model, personality is defined as a construct that situates “the personality traits within a sociocultural context and a dynamically interacting personality framework” (Dörnyei, 2017, p. 86). In Second Language Acquisition (SLA), narratives are vital when it comes to shaping one’s individual narrative identity, as they yield information about the past and the future. Thereby unity, purpose, and meaning come to the fore to strengthen the concept of identity (McAdams & Pals, 2006, p. 212). What is innovative about the framework is its dynamic dimension, which enables us to explain contextual and temporal variations at various levels “embedded between layers of a general human design and the sociocultural context” (Dörnyei, 2017, p. 86). This suggested identity concept allows us to get a better glimpse of a more integrated theory of personality “explaining the dynamic development of real people in actual contexts (Dörnyei, 2017, p. 87). The core element of the framework is an integrative life narrative that describes a teacher’s overall sense of life meaning and purpose, and also draws on the teachers’
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dispositional traits, characteristic adaptations (i.e., goals, plans, values, schemata and self-images), and contextual influences (Dörnyei, 2017, p. 88). These narratives enable teachers to better elaborate on past experiences and to envision future goals more clearly within a dynamic environment. Given Dörnyei’s and Ryan’s conceptualization of teacher identity, we felt that choosing narrative profiles to explore language teachers’ inner notions and feelings might be a promising approach for the chapter at hand, as these profiles do not only allow teachers to share important milestones in their careers, but also to elaborate on their changing identities depending on the course of their professional and private lives. This emotional exploration opens up a new meta-level of discourse which includes implications about teachers’ personal and professional selves and how they see themselves in the present and future, within the professional teaching community and in their relationships with others, such as students, colleagues, stakeholders, and authorities. Teacher identity in the context of globalization is a fascinating topic, which offers a broad range of possibilities when investigating teaching and globalization in connection with ELT teachers. The purpose of our small-scale qualitative study was to use integrative narratives to give teachers a voice, and thus to deepen our understanding of factors which positively or negatively affect their professional lives against a backdrop of rapid contextual change.
3 Methodology In addition to traditional research tools, research in teacher identity also allows for relatively diversified collection of data. To name a few methods, in-depth semi-structured or unstructured interviews, life histories, portfolios, observations, autobiographies, reflective journals, and ethnographic investigations are often the researchers’ preferred choice, since these methods encourage participants to elaborate on their professional and private lives in a relaxed atmosphere. Narrative profiles, such as the ones we used in our small-scale study, gave our teachers the opportunity to think about the questions and answer them at a time convenient for them. The narratives provided them with the opportunity to engage better in an internal dialogical discourse and thereby elicit “perceptions of their experiences, beliefs and knowledge of concept they associate with particular aspects of teaching” (Borg, 2006, p. 168). Hence, retelling stories or pondering on previous experiences and past moments is, in our view, a useful way to draw better and more accurate conclusions on the teachers’ perception of their professional lives (see framework by Dörnyei & Ryan discussed above) and thus helps them to depict a sharpened picture of their professional identities. According to Dastgoshadeh and Samar (2013, pp. 148–149): Teachers’ life stories become the vehicles through which aspects of experiential knowledge are brought to the fore; they allow teachers a voice by offering stories about teaching which provide a counterbalance to the more powerful discourses of academics or policy makers.
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As a consequence, in our small-scale qualitative study we explored the redefined roles of six Austrian ELT teachers—teaching either at secondary or tertiary levels—facing the pressures of globalization. As Varghese et al. (2005, p. 22) pointed out, “the professional, cultural, political, and individual identities which they claim or which are assigned to them” need to be investigated to get a clearer sense of who these teachers are. Additionally, like Borg (2003), we portray teachers not only as active participants in the teaching process, who influence their students drawing on their own experiences, beliefs and subject-specific knowledge, but also as the essential players who have to adapt to the fast-changing reality of their teaching contexts. In order to get a unique perspective on these teachers’ inner voices, we based our research on narrative profiles. First, we designed guided questions for the narrative profile frame where we asked participants to report on their path to becoming an English teacher, how their professional lives had changed in the last couple of years, which professional challenges they had to face due to globalization as well as other factors impacting on their identity as teachers (see Appendix). The reason for this rather broad scope of questions was to give participants the opportunity to highlight all aspects of change that they associated with globalization. In order to be able to contrast the change due to globalization we decided to include questions on their reasons for becoming teachers. Second, we distributed the narrative profile via e-mail to teachers at secondary and tertiary level. Contrary to our expectations, the response to our small-scale study was low, but in the end, we received narrative profiles from three teachers at secondary (Kate, Mary, and Rose) and tertiary level (Beth, Carol, and Linda) respectively. The teaching experience of our participants ranged from two to 35 years, and they were aged between 25 and 59, showing a diverse perspective on the teaching profession and the challenges they had to cope with. To analyze the data, we used pseudonyms for all teachers and then coded the narrative profiles using keywords such as fascination, people and/or experiences, changes, challenges, and mediating factors. These keywords came inductively from the data as several teachers used these words on several occasions, as well as from the guiding questions in the narrative profile frame. Fascination refers to all instances where the participants reported about their reasons to study or teach English. Despite people having an impact on the teachers’ decision to study English, some mentioned special experiences that also influenced their professional lives. In addition, changes include globalization as well as personal issues and a change of teaching methodology. These tie in with the keyword challenges as these two aspects often complement each other. Finally, mediating factors was introduced as an umbrella term for all characteristics influencing the teachers’ psychological and professional well-being. These terms provide the organizing structure of the discussion that follows. The narratives are presented using the original spelling conventions, with only minimal editing for clarity.
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4 Findings and Discussion The coded data provided a fascinating portrait of the teachers’ inner voices. Ideas such as the beauty of the English language itself, people or experiences that had an impact on the decision to become a teacher, as well as challenges imposed on teachers by globalization, bureaucracy, or a lack or the design of coursebooks featured prominently in the data collected. In other words, the data enabled us to see how these narratives shape meaning in their lives, and thus the stories or traits that helped to form their identity concepts were echoed quite nicely.
4.1 Fascination with English The first guided question of our narrative profile dealt with the participants’ description of their fascination with English. The answers showed very different approaches to the English language as well as to the decision to becoming an English teacher. Rose, for example, stated that: English is a “thing of beauty.” It is both relatively easy and utterly complex at the same time. English is an incredibly rich language, as soft as music and as hard as life itself. It is the language of William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Judy Dench, Jude Law and Laurie Penny.
For her, beauty and English were inherently linked and this natural link can enrich teaching by encouraging students to notice the contradiction between something that is beautiful, but entails hard work at the same time too. Mary, on the other hand, said: I have always loved languages. Therefore, after my school-leaving exam I decided to dive into the world of languages and started studying English and Italian at the Institute for Translation in Graz. My dream at that time was to become a literary translator and one day find my name on the first page of a novel.
Concerned about not finding a job as a translator as the job situation was depressing at the time, Mary started looking for other options. To increase her chances, she additionally started studying Law and French as a third language, “but I was worried.” Something which never changed for her, though, was her love of the English language, which in the end led her to the teaching profession she enjoys very much to this day (see Sect. 4.2). After returning from an exchange program where Kate attended a high school in the US, one aspect she really remembered was her being part of a team of an exchange organization: “I especially enjoyed organizing, conducting and being part of weeklong seminars for future exchange students preparing them for their year abroad and for international exchange students supporting them during their exchange experience in Germany (where I am originally from).” First, Kate gained a bachelor’s degree in Geography, but was uncertain about her future career prospects. When she remembered how much joy she got from working with young people and exploring topics like culture and adaptation with them, “I decided to change direction and take
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up teacher training studies. It was not difficult to decide on the second subject I had to choose—English suggested itself as the obvious choice.” Like Mary, she took another path before she realized that teaching might be the right profession for her. In contrast to the three teachers at secondary level, Beth had never wanted to become a teacher in the first place. She studied English and Media Studies, teacher training studies not being part of her curriculum. In her case, her motivation for becoming an English teacher was monetary as “(I m)oved abroad after my studies (and) teaching English was an easy way to earn some money; liked it; decided to go ahead with it.” Likewise, Linda started her career in a different area, namely working in exports. Unlike Beth, having studied English and Combined European Studies (Languages, Economics, and Law), she was aware of the fact that she could also teach one day if she wanted to. In her narrative profile, she wrote about her relationship with English which dated back to her childhood: I went to Great Britain for a month in summer when I was 14 years old (school and holidays with a host family). I kept in touch with the host family for quite a long time as I really liked to hear from them what was going on in the family and in the country.
Like Kate, Linda experienced her time abroad as enriching, which in her case deepened her understanding of British culture and nurtured her desire to be able to use English in her job. Last but not least, Carol mirrored Mary’s sentiment, saying that “I have always loved languages in general.” More specifically, Carol’s decision to become an English teacher… was based on the fact that I found and still find the fact that English is the number one world language most impressive, i.e. it enables you to engage in successful communication in a vast range of different situations. And this is exactly what I would like my students to become aware of.
Drawing on her own motivation for studying English, Carol tried to convey her inner thoughts, beliefs and feelings about the language to her students to ensure their success in their professional careers later on. To sum up, among all the reasons for choosing the teaching profession given by the participants of our small-scale qualitative study, one aspect stood out: They all shared a profound love of English which had touched their lives professionally and personally, thus enabling them to draw on these experiences in their everyday teaching, enriching their own as well as their students’ experience with English. We do believe that the passion for English has also been influenced by globalization as, for example, Linda, Kate, and Rose took part in exchange programs that sparked their interest in English even more and resulted in a lifelong bond. What is more, globalization can also be seen as a catalyst boosting the teachers’ self-reflection, when it comes to their love for the language. In a way, this has helped them to convey the importance of the English language in a globalized world to their students which might not only have an effect on the classrooms dynamic but also an impact on the students with regard to their future careers too.
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4.2 Significant People and/or Critical Experiences For many people, a significant person or a critical experience shape their attitude towards life, and sometimes these have a life-changing impact. The same is true for some of our participants, as a special person or a crucial event set them on a different path than the one they initially intended for themselves. Rose’s relationship to English was a difficult one at the beginning, as the subject English and she did not bond that easily: I had bad marks in English, I was afraid of talking English in class and so (my father) sent me to an English family for a fortnight. From that time onwards I had excellent marks. My father had an immense impact on my future profession and I am very grateful to him.
Probably negative feelings towards English changed to very positive ones because her father paid attention to Rose’s feelings. Her stay with a host family helped her overcome her fear of the English language, because “(e)verything suddenly seemed so easy.” This feeling even resulted in her becoming an English teacher, as “I wanted to pass on this easiness to my future students.” Mary, still on her path to becoming a literary translator, was offered a summer job as a translator for Libyan students at her local university, which she viewed as an opportunity to do something meaningful in her summer holidays and earn some money. Upon her arrival at university, she realized that the Libyan students did not need a translator, but a teacher. When asked if I felt confident enough to take this job. Without thinking I agreed. From that day on I spent six hours a day teaching Libyan students English for three weeks. I was nineteen years old, the students were men between 25 and 60. And I loved it!
Being sad that her teaching period was over, she discussed ways how she could continue teaching with her mother, who “made the most important and decisive offer in my life: She said that if teaching was my vocation then I should change my studies, start anew and become a teacher. That was the best decision in my life!” Kate, as well as Beth, claimed that neither a person nor an experience had an impact on their decision to become an English teacher. It could be argued, however, that for both of them their experience abroad definitely had an influence on their decision to start teaching. In contrast to that, Linda was influenced by several factors. On the one hand, she really liked the subject English at school and had a neighbor who was an English teacher and provided her with materials and books. Because of that, “I dealt with English also a lot in my free time and probably made more progress than my classmates at that time, which, in turn, motivated me to work even harder on my English.” Furthermore, as already mentioned, while she was studying English and Combined European Studies (see Sect. 4.1), being able to teach was always an option for her if she really wanted to. It seems that gaining work experience in another field before starting her teaching career might be an experience that she could pass on to her students too.
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Finally, Carol was of the opinion that “there was no one in particular who had an impact on this decision, which I still feel has been absolutely the right one.” English itself and all the various aspects it entails, from being globally spoken to a means of communication that is vital in our modern world, were the reasons for her to make English the center of her professional life. All of our participants still believe that they made the right decision and that the teaching profession is where they belong. As Rose so unerringly narrated: Teaching is an invitation to my students to taste the beauty of learning, to touch the spirit of greatness, to feel the warmth of understanding, to see and understand the efficiency of this language, to hear the music of life, to smell the spring of inspiration and to put all this into words.
4.3 Changes The two main issues that the participants brought up related to continuing professional development and the role of teaching materials. In that respect, all of our participants claimed that globalization had an overwhelmingly positive impact on their professional lives. Rose, for instance, believed that “globalisation and also digitalisation have contributed to being closer to life when teaching.” Further, she stated that “(e)very important piece of information is just a mouse click away. Many new approaches have appeared and thus make lessons richer, more varied and multifaceted.” This notion is supported by Beth who reported that the Internet provided more authentic teaching materials than traditional coursebooks. Linda stressed that “(s)ocial media allows me to share interesting materials and resources with my students and former students.” This is supported by Carol who believes that the… influence of social media and of the Internet in general has made both teachers and students familiar with topics and issues in a global context. We have thus come to realise that the whole world is connected in some (w)ay. And teaching and speaking “foreign” languages undoubtedly helps to deepen international understanding and promote international cooperation.
The Internet as a useful source was also stressed by Beth who believed that “collaborative online project with students from other countries” had been made much easier. Similarly, Linda said that the Internet “drives globalisation: Blogs, video feeds, podcasts from different people in different countries are a great source, but allow you to also exchange ideas with f(e)llow teachers.” The role of books was a controversial issue among our participants. Beth, for example, stressed that due to the growing awareness and stricter enforcement of copyright law, photocopies from books were no longer an option for teachers at the University of Applied Sciences; therefore, the preparation time for lessons had increased tremendously. Similarly, Mary mentioned that a lot had changed after her return from maternity leave, as in her…
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first years at school, appropriate language books were sufficient to guarantee successful lessons. When I returned (…), I was suddenly confronted with a completely new way of teaching. Moodle, cyber homework, interactive communication – all that was relatively new to me and I had to adapt to the new situation.
Although both teachers struggled with these changes at the beginning, globalization and digitalization has created new opportunities for them to tackle these issues. Professional development is another factor that the respondents highlighted when talking about changes in the teaching profession. Thus, globalization plays a major role in these teachers’ lives as it has definitely enriched their everyday teaching. According to Rose “(e)xperience, maturity, personal development, a realistic sense of what is possible in teaching, further education and regular communication with colleagues and experts” supported her throughout her professional path. Attending one seminar in particular very early on in her teaching career made her change her way of teaching dramatically: About twenty years ago I switched from a teacher centred way (…) to a student centred way of teaching. I invite students to talk English to each other for 15-20 min in every lesson. It is obvious that they do not learn so much by listening to me but by talking English themselves.
Continual professional development seems to be the key to successful teaching. In her narrative profile, Mary emphasized that in “our profession we can never stop learning. Professional development, seminars and exchange with colleagues are extremely important.” Like the other teachers she reflected on the fact that there are areas she needs to be working on, because she is still not “happy with my technological skills, but I am getting there. My next step will be switching from paper notes to tablet lists, as so many of my colleagues are happy with this new form of cataloguing the students’ performance.” Carol finished her thoughts on professional development by pointing out that “not only globalisation, but also a growing trend towards individualism (…) causes a change in teaching methods and the media of teaching.” As teachers we are immensely influenced by our globalizing world and new trends in methodology appear much faster now than they did years ago. Keeping up-to-date with all these innovations is one of the challenges teachers have to deal with nowadays.
4.4 Challenges One of the challenges some of our participants had encountered in the last couple of years was diversity on various levels. Several participants commented on changing demographics and changing attitudes among people. Kate, for example, reported on a politically motivated project called SALIS (Salzburg International School), which is an international class in a state school where students are taught bilingually, in order to “adapt to the realities of globalisation in Austria.” She was chosen to teach Geography in that class because she was an English teacher as well. The majority of the students in this class came from “globalized” backgrounds, had been raised
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bilingually and had lived in different countries. According to Kate, they “(ha)ve been dealing with problems related to cultural uprooting and culture shock, but also have a great internalised knowledge of different languages and cultures.” Rose mentioned students from 26 different nationalities being taught at her school, a fact she really appreciated. One of the challenges she faced included, for example, that… it is not always easy to choose topics or films due to the various backgrounds of my students. What is old fashioned for some students is too progressive and liberal for others. Sometimes it is difficult to find out what is appropriate for a class consisting of students coming from different cultures (e.g. can I show “Harvey Milk” to every class?).
Additionally, Rose described her difficulties when dealing with shy girls as teachers “want to teach our students to speak up, to express their opinion freely, to present themselves and to be self-assured.” Despite all efforts, it is sometimes not so easy for teachers to accomplish this goal, although being “self-confident is ever so important in today’s world and it is not easy to convey this asset to those who have been educated to be modest, soft spoken, reserved and cautious.” Cultural diversity is an everyday reality for many teachers, and a real challenge as some students have a fixed mind-set that is difficult or even impossible to overcome. Rose believed that “as a teacher you must have a lot of empathy, understanding, intelligence and the right kind of feeling, intuition and instinct to take the right decisions in class” (for another discussion of multilingual urban teaching contexts, see Schwarzl et al., this volume). Likewise, diversity was an issue for Carol, because many students in her classes had various native languages and “a teacher simply has to ‘think outside the box’ and ‘go global.’ Thus, covering social skills, i.e., intrapersonal and interpersonal skills has become an integral part of the teaching process.” It seems that the teaching profession includes much more than simply teaching content and language as cultural awareness needs to be seen as vital for successful classroom communication as well (for an example of language teacher professional development that touches on such subjects, see also Kitsiou et al., this volume). Working with people can be rewarding but challenging at the same time, as Mary pointed out in her narrative. Parents “show(ing) lack of respect and therefore their children do(ing) the same” was one of the issues she had to deal with very often. Moreover, Mary portrayed her role as a teacher as a challenging one these days as new educational developments “are sometimes miles away from reality.” What is more, she was also worried about new tasks “society requires from us, like not only educating but raising the children, helping them with their problems, dealing with more or less useful legal regulations, initiating the medical treatment of psychological or psychiatric diseases.” This shows that the role of the teacher has changed dramatically in the last decade. Teaching is not solely about teaching content, structures, strategies, etc., but also about being like a parent to the students. This role imposes numerous challenges on the teacher, as this area is not part of the educational program at universities training teachers.
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Ideas commonly associated with globalization are connectedness and opportunities as well as fast communication processes. All of this notwithstanding, Kate explained that “globalisation is somehow a highly selective process—contrary to the image of most of us bear in their minds that it brings the whole world closer together.” Although this may be true, Kate emphasized in her narrative profile that globalization… has not alleviated the inequalities in our world. This selectiveness is also represent(ed) in ELT materials, which still are mostly produced in the UK and feature mostly BE speakers. This does not reflect the actual usage and significance of English as it is used around the world today.
Globalization has also had an effect on the growth of English and social media definitely plays a significant role in the lives of our students where they are able to listen to many different varieties of the English language. Coursebooks in Austria traditionally focus more on British English than any other variety of English, which does definitely not mirror the reality of our students. Admittedly, this poses a challenge with which teachers have to cope in a globalized world. Correspondingly, the Internet and all its assets are definitely one of the benefits of modern-day teaching, but as Linda pointed out “(c)ertain social networks, platforms to share materials or software to produce materials come and go.” In short, the benefits of the Internet can quickly turn into a challenge when preparing lessons.
4.5 Mediating Factors When coding the data, several mediating factors surfaced in our six ELT teachers’ narrative profiles which sometimes had a considerable impact on their style of teaching (see Table 1). These factors appear to correspond to the contextual influences in Dörnyei and Ryan’s (2015), rather than the identity narratives, but are nevertheless important in understanding how the identity of language teachers evolves. Mary, for instance, believed that “(g)iving grades, evaluating the performance of students, sticking to regulations which make teaching harder, all of these things make the life of a teacher difficult. Nevertheless, I could never imagine doing anything else.” A notion most of our participants agreed with, because teaching was seen as rewarding, despite these challenges. At the same time, Linda reported that experiencing “resistance or lack of cooperation from the learners (…) can really drag me down. I have to remind myself then that I can only enable learning but not be a driving force of some kind. These are usually hard lessons.” These instances show how much pressure teachers have to deal with, one of the mediating factors the majority of our participants commented on. Another factor that has an impact on teaching was definitely excessive time demands made by preparation, as especially the teachers at tertiary level had to design their own materials, which took up a lot of their workload. In the same way, correction work was a huge part of all of our participants’ everyday job that caused
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Table 1 Mediating factors impacting on ELT teachers in Austria Mediating factors Acquisition of superficiality and mediocrity
Too much preparation and correction
Bureaucracy, figures and rankings
Not enough time for reflection
Sticking to regulations
Resistance or lack of cooperation from learners
Materials mostly produced in the UK/US
a certain kind of pressure and sometimes even stress for many of them. As a consequence, as Beth stressed in her narrative profile, there was “too little time to reflect.” Reflecting on one’s own teaching practice was viewed as valuable by our participants, but many other tasks they had to fulfill often deprived them of evaluating their own teaching. Bureaucracy, especially the strain of administrative responsibilities, was one area which used up a lot of their resources, which, in their opinion, could be used more efficiently. Less paperwork and more time for communicating with colleagues and students would be appreciated to constantly improve the quality of teaching. As many of our participants stressed, the public reputation of teachers definitely influenced their teacher identity as well. Media, as well as authorities, very often portray the job of teachers as one where they are finished by mid-day, which is far from the truth. A huge part of teachers’ workload in Austria is invisible, as they have to fulfill many tasks at home, and of course during the weekend. In conclusion, as Rose so accurately summarized it, “the past few years I have got the impression that unfortunately we are moving away from contents and depth towards the acquisition of superficiality and mediocrity. Bureaucracy, figures, ranks and scores are outdoing relevance and issues.”
5 Concluding Remarks As a further contribution to research on teacher identity, this chapter aims to add another layer to this unique topic by discussing teacher identity in the light of globalization, focusing on the Austrian setting. We strongly believe that the identity framework suggested by Dörnyei and Ryan (2015) is of central importance when approaching integrative life stories, since the research is placed around one’s narrative identity and is “therefore the most volatile element of personality” (Dörnyei, 2017, p. 90). In line with Bruner (1987), we argue that organizing and understanding experiences in form of narratives shapes our personality in such a way that we become the story. The narrative profiles of our six Austrian ELT teachers clearly showed that globalization had definitely had an impact on their teaching in terms of their fascination with English: English was perceived as inherently beautiful as Rose, for example, empha-
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sized. What is more, Mary benefitted from English as a global language, because the reason she could teach these Libyan students was due to globalization. Furthermore, changes, challenges, and mediating factors sometimes surfaced due to globalization. According to Barkhuizen (2016, p. 25): What teachers know about themselves – their personal histories, their ideologies, their language use, the kind of person they are, how others perceive them – affects their professional practice and their understanding of the power relationships that exist among themselves, their learners and members of the wider community.
With respect to teachers’ professional well-being, changes, challenges, and mediating factors played an essential part in our participants’ constant professional development. One aspect that featured prominently in the narrative profiles was cultural diversity, which definitely is an issue that reflects the Austrian multicultural society. Austrian society has changed considerably due to globalization. As a consequence, this has had an impact on our educational institutions as well where teachers have to learn to cope with students coming from very diverse family backgrounds. Despite all these challenges, our six ELT teachers were unquestionably enjoying their teaching, hence we would like to close with Rose’s motto: “train the brain, warm the heart, and sometimes touch the soul of learners.”
Appendix Thinking Outside the Box: The Impact of Globalization on English Language Teachers in Austria Narrative Profile As globalization is a phenomenon that has impacted on our daily lives’ as teachers, we (Petra Kletzenbauer and Alia Moser) would like to explore Austrian ELT teachers’ thoughts and ideas about this issue which we will present at the Language Across Borders conference at Graz University. Your name will not be revealed and a pseudonym will be used to protect your identity. Could you please tell us your story about becoming and being an English teacher, using the following guided questions: 1. Could you to tell us a little bit about how you became an English teacher: a. What fascinated you about English? b. Was there someone who had an impact on your decision? c. Do you think you have made the right decision? 2. How has your life as a teacher changed in the last couple of years? a. Has globalization affected you in any way in your daily routine? b. Has your way of teaching changed due to globalisation? c. Which role does professional development play in that respect?
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3. What are the challenges you have to face due to globalization, especially when it comes to methods, approaches, techniques, and the media of teaching? 4. Which other factors might have an impact on your identity as a teacher? Are psychological factors, e.g., stress, pressure, colleagues, or reputation, an aspect of your profession which have an impact on how you see yourself as a teacher? Thank you very much for your help!
References Barkhuizen, G. (2016). Narrative approaches to exploring language, identity and power in language teacher education. RELC Journal, 47(1), 25–42. Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36(2), 81–109. Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum. Borg, S. (2017). Identity and teacher research. In G. Barkhuizen (Ed.), Reflections on language teacher identity research (pp. 126–132). New York: Routledge. Bruner, J. (1987). Life as narrative. Social Research, 54(1), 11–32. Crystal, D. (2003). English as a global language (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dastgoshadeh, A., & Samar, G. F. (2013). Possible selves theory: A new framework for language teacher self and identity research. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 5(1), 144–155. Day, C., Kington, A., Stobart, G., & Sammons, P. (2006). The personal and professional selves of teachers: Stable and unstable identities. British Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 601–616. Dörnyei, Z. (2017). Conceptualising learner characteristics in a complex, dynamic world. In L. Ortega & Z. -H. Han (Eds.), Complexity theory and language development: In celebration of Diane Larsen-Freeman (pp. 79–96). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Dörnyei, Z., & Ryan, S. (2015). The psychology of the language learner revisited. New York, NY: Routledge. Hargreaves, A., & Goodson, I. (1996). Teachers’ professional lives: Aspirations and actualities. In I. Goodson & A. Hargreaves (Eds.), Teachers’ professional lives (pp. 9–35). London: Routledge. Holstein, J., & Gubrium, J. (2000). The self we live by: Narrative identity in a postmodern world. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kostoulas, A., & Mercer, S. (2016). Fifteen years of research on self and identity in System. System, 60, 128–134. McAdams, D. P., & Pals, J. L. (2006). A new big five: Fundamental principles for an integrative science of personality. American Psychologist, 61(3), 204–217. Olsen, B. (2008). Introducing teacher identity and this volume. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(3), 3–6. Pennington, M. C. (2015). Teacher identity in TESOL: A frames perspective. In Y. L. Cheung, S. B. Said, & K. Park (Eds.), Advances and current trends in language teacher identity research (pp. 16–30). New York: Routledge. Riyanti, D. (2017). Teacher identity development: A collective case study of English as a foreign language pre-service teachers learning to teach in an Indonesian university teacher education program (Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons. unl.edu/cehsdiss/289. Simon-Maeda, A. (2004). The complex construction of professional identities: Female EFL educators in Japan speak out. TESOL Quarterly, 38(3), 405–436.
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Trejo Guzmán, N. P. (2009). The teacher self construction of language teachers (Doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter). Retrieved from https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10036/% 2097914. Varghese, M., Morgan, B., Johnston, B., & Johnson, K. A. (2005). Theorizing language teacher identity: Three perspectives and beyond. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 4(1), 21–44. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Third-Age University Teachers in Language Education: Navigating the Boundaries of Work-Life Balance and Retirement Sonja Babi´c and Kyle Talbot
Abstract This study explores how third-age teachers in the field of language education navigate psychological, temporal, and physical boundaries between their professional and private lives. Third-age teachers are teachers who are approaching retirement or have already retired but remain professionally active. Through semistructured interviews, three tertiary-level third-age educators detail the highs and lows of their language teaching trajectories and the level of integration and/or segmentation between their work and home lives. As a framework, Clark’s (Hum Relat 53(6):747–770, 2000) work/family border theory is utilized to explain when, why, and how these teachers attend to border-crossings and manage their domain boundaries and, ultimately, how this affects their well-being. The results of this study also highlight another boundary, namely, the retirement boundary, and details how the participants navigate this. This study has the capacity to add greater depth to conceptualizations and understandings of work-life balance and retirement as it applies to those in the field of tertiary-level language education.
1 Introduction Studies of second language teachers have tended to focus on their professional lives as enacted in their classrooms. This chapter aims to complement these perspectives by extending the discussion to third-age teachers in the field of language education. Specifically, we focus on third-age language teachers and/or language teacher educators (TALTs and/or TATEs). TALTs and/or TATEs are teachers who are approaching retirement or have already retired but remain professionally active. We explore the ways in which tertiary-level third-age language teachers navigate their retirement, and how they perceive the boundaries between their professional and private lives. S. Babi´c (B) · K. Talbot ELT Research and Methodology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria e-mail: [email protected] K. Talbot e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_11
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The boundaries between the professional and private lives of teachers, and for academics in particular, are not always clear (Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005). Davies and Jenkins (2013), for instance, posit that “academic jobs are perhaps atypical of many jobs in that the boundaries between work and non-work can be blurred and the nature of the academic role is open ended” (p. 325). In that respect, we are interested in exploring how this specific population maintains and manages their own psychological, temporal, or physical boundaries between life domains. Traditionally, the equilibrium between individuals’ working hours and their time in other domains has been conceptualized as work-life balance (WLB). WLB is a central concern to those interested in how quality of life at work and home affect one another (Guest, 2002). Important too, is how individuals act on their boundaries in order to affect WLB. Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate (2000) proposed that the ways in which boundaries are managed by individuals’ influences conflict between domains. WLB and boundary management also have important consequences for educators working in higher education. One example can be found in the research of Kinman and Wray (2013), who found “a high level of conflict between work and home life” to be “the strongest predictor of psychological distress” (p. 7) for those working in the higher education sector. We are also interested in another boundary facing TALTs and/or TATEs. These teachers are at or nearing the point in their careers where they are faced with lifealtering decisions about when and if to retire, and whether, and to what extent, to remain active professionally. Retirement generally, and at the university level specifically, is complex and unstandardized (Hulme, 2012), and it often varies on an individual basis (Davies & Jenkins, 2013; Dorfman, 2000). While in many professions retiring demarcates a boundary in professional life, this is not always the case with university teachers (Dorfman, 2000) who are already often choosing to, in a way, continue working after retirement (Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005; Oxford, Cohen, & Simmons, 2018).
2 Literature Review In this section we review research delineating why we have chosen to focus on TALTs’ and/or TATEs’ WLB and retirement paths. This section further details WLB and reviews research involving third age teachers. Finally, this section also presents Clark’s (2000) work/family border theory and our rationale for investigating WLB through this framework.
2.1 Tertiary-Level Teachers For many teachers, especially in academic or higher education contexts, borders between work and life domains are often blurred, as their academic roles can be
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perceived as open-ended (Wortman, Biernat, & Lang, 1991). Academics “incorporate a wide range of roles and with potentially competing demands” (p. 324), which make academic careers in a sense “boundaryless” (Arthur & Rousseau, 2001). Dorfman and Kolarik (2005) echo this sentiment. They argue that the career of a university teacher is distinct from other professions and as such, tertiary-level teachers’ engagement with work at later stages in life may also be different. They explain: Because of the centrality of the work role in their lives, it is possible that activity patterns for professors in later life may be quite different than those for people in other occupational groups. For many professors, the distinction between “work” and “leisure” is often blurred; what are defined as “work” and “play” activities then become comingled. Many professors say work is what they like most to do and may even describe work as their “hobby.” (p. 344)
This sort of blended existence and “centrality” of work to the identity of many university teachers, as suggested by Dorfman and Kolarik (2005), provides fertile grounds through which to explore issues related to WLB and retirement. Conventionally, university teaching has also been a profession characterized as having a high level of autonomy (Davies & Jenkins, 2013). Teachers in higher education are often said to perceive a high degree of control and flexibility over the ways in which they engage with their work, work tasks, and working hours (Kinman & Wray, 2013). Generally, employees whose jobs offer a high level of autonomy, flexibility, and personal fulfillment (e.g., teaching at a university) tend to experience high workplace satisfaction (Dorfman, 2000), and, “blur the boundaries between work, play and leisure” (Dorfman & Kolarik, 2005, p. 347). For instance, Golden, Henly, and Lambert (2013) found that work schedule flexibility and having the capacity to decide starting and quitting times was regularly associated with greater levels of reported well-being. However, in many contexts, university employees “more than ever before, experience inter-role conflict as they try to juggle the demands of work and personal life” (Olson-Buchanan, & Boswell, 2006, p. 432). In a 2013 UK report conducted by the University and College Union, only 14% of approximately 14,500 survey respondents indicated that the integrativeness of their work and home lives for them was ideal (Kinman & Wray, 2013). In the same study, the authors found that, “as the gap between current and ideal levels of work-life integration widened, work-life conflict and stress worsened” (p. 31). In Austria, the context of this study, both junior and senior academics have reported mounting pressure related to raising external funds for research purposes (Drennan, Clarke, Hyde, & Politis, 2013). The implication is that university teaching can be characterized as having a relatively high flexibility but also as a profession with a set of unique challenges.
2.2 Third-Age Teachers in Language Education A useful lens through which to explore second language teachers approaching or at retirement is through the notion of the “third age.” The third age “describes relatively
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healthy ‘young-old’ people who are now retired, while feeling energy, excitement, purpose and well-being” (Oxford et al., 2018, p. 292). Third age, as a life phase, is partially related to biological age. In the literature, it varies from about 50 to 80+ years of age (see, e.g., Barnes, 2011; Carr & Komp, 2011; Oxford et al., 2018). Generally, multiple life phases and the transitions individuals make across these phases depend on contextual factors, such as workplace, physical health, social relationships, and economic status (Carr & Komp, 2011). Barnes (2011) suggests that individuals enter this phase of life at different times. For some, it could last for only few years, and for others twenty years or more. Third-agers are also described “healthy individuals at later stages of their career and early stages of retirement” (Barnes, 2011, p. 3). In language education, TALTs and TATEs can be defined as teachers who are close to retirement or who have already retired but remain professionally active. Despite the above characterizations of the third age as involving physical health and biological age, our main concern was not the physical health or biological age of the participants, but rather the career phase of the participants. We focus only on a group of language teachers who, to one extent or another, opted to stay in the profession after formal retirement. Given their lifelong commitment to their professions, longevity of their teaching careers, and knowledge and experience they have accrued over time, it is surprising that relatively little attention in the literature has been given to TALTs and/or TATEs. One notable exception can be found in the work of Oxford et al. (2018), who note that their study on their own psychological insights as TATEs is “likely to represent some of the first research on the topic, as the third-age concept does not seem to have been previously applied to studying teacher educators” (p. 291). Exploring the lives of TALTs and/or TATEs could potentially provide rich insights into the teaching profession and ways to support the well-being of language teachers of all generations.
2.3 Work-Life Balance Guest (2002) writes that “work-life balance has always been a concern of those interested in the quality of working life and its relation to broader quality of life” (p. 256). WLB, variously known as work-family balance (Greenhaus, Collins, & Shaw, 2003), work-life integration (Tarver, 2013), work-life symbiosis (Fox, 2015), boundary theory (Nippert-Eng, 1996), and work-family border theory (Clark, 2000), is connected to important outcomes, such as job satisfaction (Baltes, Briggs, Huff, Wright, & Neuman, 1999), quality of life (Greenhaus et al., 2003), and well-being (Golden et al., 2013). According to Richert-Ka´zmierska and Stankiewicz (2016), maintaining a subjectively optimal balance between work life and home life can provide “psychological well-being, high self-esteem, satisfaction and (an) overall sense of harmony in (the) life of an individual” (p. 680). However, experiencing disconnect between one’s desired and actual WLB, including the level of integration or segmentation one perceives can have negative consequences for individuals and teachers alike (Kinman & Wray, 2013; McCoy, Newell, & Gardner, 2013).
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Despite the centrality of WLB to discussions about how the quality of professional and home lives of working individuals interrelate, ambiguity exists in how to characterize it conceptually and empirically (see Kalliath & Brough, 2008). One definition is offered by Greenhaus et al. (2003): “the extent to which an individual is equally engaged in—and equally satisfied with—his or her work role and family role” (p. 513). This definition, however, “exists independent of an individual’s desires or values” (p. 513). Yet, individuals’ perceptions are likely to affect how they understand and manage their own WLB (Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2009). Specifically, the fit, or perceived congruence, between a person’s desired level of integration/segmentation is central to the study of WLB (Nippert-Eng, 1996). Desrochers and Sargent (2004) explain that “integration/segmentation is not an either-or proposition, but a continuum” that shifts over time depending on contextual conditions and demands at home and work (p. 44). Nippert-Eng’s (1996) research demonstrated that many individuals prefer highly segmented domains, where others tend to favor higher levels of integrativeness. In fact, perception is central to WLB. In one study, Tausig and Fenwick (2001) found that the perception of having scheduling control at work increased individuals’ perceptions of WLB. Similarly, Edwards and Rothbard (1999) found that the congruence between university employees preferred and actual level of integrativeness in their home and work lives predicted well-being outcomes.
2.4 Work/Family Border Theory For our purposes, a useful conceptualization of WLB that takes individual preferences into account is Clark’s (2000) work/family border theory, which “is an attempt to explain the complex interaction between border-crossers and their work and family lives, to predict when conflict will occur, and give a framework for attaining balance” (p. 748). Balance, according to work/family border theory, is defined as individuals’ “satisfaction and good functioning at work and home, with a minimum role conflict” (p. 751). In this theory, borders are psychological, tangible, and temporal, and individuals both shape and are shaped by their domains and borders. More specifically, this theory consists of: (a) the domains of work and home that influence each other and are characterized by their level of integration or segmentation; (b) border-crossers, or the individuals who transgress between the domains of home and work; (c) borders, which demarcate domains and can be characterized by their flexibility, blending, strength, and/or permeability; and (d) border-keepers, who are relevant individuals that help to define how a border-crosser may navigate between and through domains. These central components of work/family border theory act in conjunction to influence an individual’s WLB. Guest (2002) writes that Clark’s theory “opens up a rich vein of analysis of the nature of borders, their permeability, the ease with which they can be managed or moved and so on” (p. 259), and that the theory “opens up scope for the social construction or cognitive distortion of boundaries to create a defensible subjective sense of balance” (p. 260). He further states, “in terms of analysis of WLB, the
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analysis of borders can help to illuminate how far individuals are in control of issues determining balance” (p. 259). Of course, in the domains of both home and work, some barriers are rigid and difficult to alter. Clark (2000) acknowledges this reality but maintains that individuals do, to varying degrees, have the capacity to shape the nature of both their professional and private domains. While there are numerous theories and frameworks through which to explore WLB, this study draws on Clark’s work/family border theory, because of the ways in which it describes integration and/or segmentation of domains, border flexibility, and permeability. Moreover, the theory explicitly includes predictions related to how WLB relates to well-being and predicts where areas of potential conflict may occur.
3 Methodology 3.1 Aims The present chapter comprises one segment of a larger study, which was conducted in Austria in spring/summer 2017 by the first author. The broader study includes teachers who, at the time of the study, were approaching retirement, as well as those who are formally retired but nevertheless have continued to engage with the profession. In this chapter, we have decided to only include the latter—teachers who have actively remained in the profession after their formal retirement. Our focus was to explore the boundaries between TALTs and/or TATEs work and home lives through the lens of Clark’s (2000) work/family border theory and to understand how this sample of teachers navigate their retirement paths. An additional aim is to examine how these teachers’ perceptions of their WLB and retirement affected their senses of well-being. As such, the study attempts to address the following research questions: RQ1 In what ways do TALTs and TATEs perceive their senses of WLB and how does this affect their well-being? RQ2 In what ways do TALTs and TATEs perceive their own retirement transitions and how does this affect their well-being?
3.2 Participants The three participants in this study (Table 1) were recruited through recommendations from personal acquaintances. All three interview participants are L1 speakers of English. It is worth considering how culture and birthplace may affect the perceptions of WLB and the experiences of the teachers in this sample. Lu et al. (2010) found
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Table 1 Participants’ demographic and contextual information Participant Age Teaching (Years) experience (Years)
Current teaching activities
TALT and/or TATE
Schools, universities, working with disabled
Teaching in-service course and working on international projects
TALT & TATE
Schools, universities, companies
Teaching in-service courses, and English as a foreign language
TALT & TATE
Schools, universities, British Council
Teaching seven courses at a university
in a cross-cultural study with British and Taiwanese participants that there were both similarities and differences in how work-to-family conflict was experienced by both populations. Though it is beyond the scope of this paper, future studies might consider further cultural factors of WLB for TALTs and/or TATEs. One teacher identified himself as a language teacher (TALT), and two other teachers identified themselves as both language teachers and teacher educators (TALT and TATE).
3.3 Data Generation Three semi-structured interviews are reported in this study. The interview protocol consisted of eight sections and included questions about the participants’ teaching histories, professional lives, self-concept and identity, social identity, the joys of being a language teacher, sources of stress, leisure time, future perspectives, self-reflection and advice. Interviews in this study lasted between one and two hours each and generated a corpus of 34,642 words. The interviews were scheduled and conducted face-to-face at a time and place chosen by the interviewees. All teachers were given an informed consent sheet explaining the purpose of the study and assuring confidentiality. This included data anonymization and assigned pseudonyms. The participants were informed that they could withdraw from the study at any time up until the point of publication. Once the data were gathered, the interviews were transcribed semantically, including in the transcript salient information such as laughter, timestamps, and significant pauses. After fully anonymizing the transcripts, they were uploaded to the software program Atlas.ti for analysis.
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3.4 Data Analysis Both researchers repeatedly read the transcripts to initially familiarize themselves with the data. Next, data were coded line-by-line by the first researcher. Memos were then written collaboratively and individually as comments in the original transcripts. After that, we conducted a thematic analysis in line with the abovementioned research questions following procedures and guidelines outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006). In this study, thematic analysis was utilized as a way of “identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns (themes) within the data” (p. 79). As a final step, individual participant vignettes were created to further familiarize the researchers with the data and were influential in how the data was reported.
4 Results 4.1 Michael Ambiguous Borders At the time of the interview, though retired, Michael was still teaching university classes and working on an international research project. Additionally, he planned to join another project in the fall of 2017. His involvement with both teaching and project work implied high levels of professional engagement. However, his own perception of his work differed. When asked about his job, he replied, “I mean, basically I don’t have a full-time job.” Michael did not seem to perceive working on projects and teaching courses as work in a traditional sense, but rather something he was doing volitionally and in his free time. This suggested some ambiguity in what and how he perceives of his work and non-work domains. Michael’s domains were characterized by weak border strength, which suggests that in many ways his domains were blended and his borders were highly flexible and permeable. For instance, Michael’s office is in his apartment, and he described working mostly from home. This is a concrete example of what Clark (2000) would refer to as a physical border characterized by permeability. The doors and walls of his office create a boundary, but the office is situated within his home, wherein his wife can and does enter the work space at any time. While working from home can, in some cases, exacerbate conflict between domains and lead to family blurring (Nippert-Eng, 1996), for Michael, this level of integration contributed positively to his well-being. Also relevant for Michael was the support that he felt he received from his family throughout his career. He seemed to have tailored his family life in accordance with his work demands and goals. For example, after several years of working at a university in Austria, he decided to pursue an MA degree in his home country before returning to Austria to teach. His family supported him and his goals as an academic. Clark (2000) hypothesized that “border-crossers whose domain members show high commitment to them will have higher work/family balance” (p. 765). For
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Michael, this certainly appeared to be the case. Additionally, Clark predicted that a “central participant,” or in other words a person who had a high degree of control and identification with one domain or another, will tend to have more control over that domain (2000, p. 765). This prediction held true for Michael, who was clearly the auteur of his educational plan and eventual career. Michael’s retirement Michael described himself as an “altruistic (person who) want(s) to try to help society” and expressed no intention of interrupting or slowing his professional-life activities. In his retirement, he has been involved with projects that require frequent international travel, and is, so to say, often crossing borders literally. His passion for teaching was palpable. He explained: “Why should you not want to do what I’m doing? It’s not the kind of profession you want to retire from.”
4.2 Jackie Control Over Temporal and Physical Boundaries At the time of the interview, Jackie was teaching English for specific purposes (ESP) and language pedagogy. She was still active academically and often conducted and published research, attended conferences, and held workshops. As a teacher and an academic, her schedule was busy, but she described her current teaching activities as much less intensive than they had been previously. In her interview, she described a time in her life when she was regularly teaching over 50 h/week and was overwhelmed with her schedule. Now, she could decide herself which facets of the profession to engage with and when. For example, Jackie volunteered for a professional language association, and was quite involved with organizing events, talks, and publishing. She did this volitionally and in her free time. Jackie explained that she now had the freedom and choice to say “no,” and to focus only on what she deemed important. For example: I usually say no to things, depending on what it is. (…) The last time I was asked for (teaching) in (city) and I turned it down, I just didn’t want to go out there, um, small things – conferences I still do. Even though they don’t pay, but they – it’s a different kind of thing, so it’s hard to say, I don’t have any plans to stop working.
Clark (2000) hypothesized that individuals who identify with a domain strongly and have great influence over that domain will likely be able to enact more control over the borders of a domain, which was the case for Jackie. She expressed deep identification with her professional life and, as delineated in the excerpt above, she desired to remain active professionally for as long as possible. She also demonstrated her influence in deciding her preferred level of engagement. Her ability to decide what facets of her work to willingly engage with was positive for her well-being. Jackie also provided an interesting anecdote for what it means to be working or not. On the day of the interview she said that she did not have anything else planned for the day:
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Today I have completely off except for this, so I will get back to the computer, I will finish the article for (an international conference), because I’m speaking there and then I want to write a rebuttal to (an) article, so I’m kind of (…) it takes time. (…) but then on a day like this, I don’t have anything else I can work on all of these things.
Interestingly, even though she was engaged with several writing projects, which in her words “take time,” she explained that she was “completely off” for the day. “Completely off,” for her, was seemingly an indication that she was free of teaching obligations, and could, therefore, use her time to engage with her writing. In terms of physical borders, Jackie, like Michael, worked mostly from home. Her office was physically separated from the rest of the apartment, and she was alone throughout her working day. Although having an office at home might encourage more permeable borders (Clark, 2000), Jackie emphasized that no one from home interrupted her work space or her work time. Though she maintained strong physical borders, like her office, she described her psychological and temporal domains as being more flexible and blended: I generally start my day a little bit later, I mean, I’d get up as (her partner) is going, cause he leaves really early, um, try to do some exercise, breakfast, get to the computer, or go to the lessons and then I’ll generally work until eight, not always but often.
Jackie’s retirement Jackie described wanting to continue teaching “for as long as (her students) want (her) there.” She also explained that, in her retirement, she will “probably (be) teaching (and) probably travelling a little less in ten years.” Adding “I don’t know, I mean, writing. That’s what I want to do in my retirement.”
4.3 Samuel Highly Merged Domains When interviewed, Samuel was teaching seven university courses. “My wife would say to that, that I am a workaholic, and I spend a lot of time at the university and I, um, and I’m, I’m probably spending too much time. I don’t cut it off enough,” Samuel explained. Because of a health issue for almost thirty years, he described routinely taking naps during his lunch break. He discussed how this affected his working hours, explaining: The thing about life balance… (my family) ha(s) been working on life balance… I sleep at lunch time and that happened ever since I had a (serious) operation, (…) and that happened to me twenty-eight years ago, and that reinforces the impression of the person who doesn’t have to go to work, has an easier timetable.
Samuel explained that his children might have had the impression that he worked infrequently and had a favorable schedule. Though he did not go into detail to describe how this made him feel, it is worth considering how his perception may have affected how he engaged with his work both at work and at home. Kreiner et al. (2009), for instance, comment on the centrality of both an individual’s perception and others’
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perceptions to boundary management, “boundaries are co-constructed accomplishments,” and therefore, “how individuals perceive their work-home boundary vis-à-vis others’ perceptions of those boundaries can be critically important” (p. 706). Samuel, perhaps more than any of the other participants, described having weak borders between his professional and private life. He described having flexible hours and highly merged domains. Clark (2000) hypothesized that if domains are similar, weak borders could facilitate work/family balance, which seemed to be the case for Samuel. For instance, when not teaching Samuel described often thinking about “bits and pieces of language,” its’ changes, and how to make his teaching more enjoyable: “(W)hat I always do when we are in (his home country), for example, I always think about the usefulness or realia, and or good up to date samples of bits and pieces of language that I hear.” Samuel frequently transferred ideas, artifacts, or language related concepts from his home life to his work life. Moreover, Samuel’s wife was a retired language teacher and his children were also working as teachers or lecturers. His professional and family domains were incredibly similar. Clark (2000) hypothesized that “bordercrossers whose domain members have high other-domain awareness will have higher work/family balance” (p. 765). This seems to be the case with Samuel, whose family certainly had a high degree of awareness about his work life which was positive for his well-being. Samuel’s retirement Samuel was sent to premature retirement a year earlier than he originally planned. He described one emotionally charged incident in which he walked into a room when his coworkers were discussing his impending retirement before he was made aware. Interestingly, despite being pressured into early retirement, he continued teaching at the same university and had no plans to stop: “I don’t plan to retire from working with language at all.” Samuel implied that a teacher can never actually retire from the profession: “once a teacher, always a teacher.” He did, however, describe retirement as a time in which he would have more time to spend with his family and engage in activities he otherwise had not found time for, such as painting. Interestingly, his descriptions of retirement were future-oriented, almost as if he was describing an alternate, or the next stage of retirement.
5 Discussion The character of university teaching constitutes an interesting domain through which we have chosen to explore the quality of individuals’ working lives and the influence this may have for their broader quality of life. Specifically, in this paper we have focused on the lives of three tertiary-level third-age teachers, who at the time of this study were retired yet, nonetheless still active professionals within the field of English language education broadly construed. The focus of our analysis was on WLB at the individual level. At this level, our participants all shaped and were
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shaped by their environments. Clark (2000) writes “it is the very contradiction of determining and being determined by our work and home environments that makes work/family balance one of the most challenging concepts in the study of work and study of families” (p. 748). Despite some commonalities in the descriptions of the participants, for the most part, the ways in which the participants characterized their work and life interrelations, the strength of their borders, and the ways in which they managed them was highly personal. Michael, for example, characterized his work and home domains as largely having blended together over time. His high level of professional engagement continued into his retirement and he consistently pointed out how much joy and satisfaction he received from his long career in the field of second language education. Samuel also characterized his domains as having blended over time, but for Samuel, his domain blending was largely based on his family situation. His wife and children were also teachers and, naturally, conversations with his family and his leisure time often shifted toward language teaching and learning. Desrochers and Sargent (2004) note that “if work and family life become so highly integrated that the work-family boundary is blurred, it can lead to negative consequences such as work-family conflict, stress, depression and dissatisfaction with both work and family life” (p. 44). Clark (2000) in a sense makes a different prediction, namely, that if there is high other domain awareness between members, less work/family conflict is likely to occur. We tend to think that it is more than likely based on the individual and each of their preferences, and for Samuel, this highly integrated state seemed to be a net positive. In fact, Samuel implied that the reason his children might have chosen the teaching profession was because they admired the flexibility that he had in his work life. Though Jackie also characterized her domains as having blended, she did maintain one distinct physical boundary, which was the privacy she desired when working from her home office. Though the office was in a house that she shared, she relished her ability to attend to her work without distractions from the home seeping in. This border, though described physically, was also seemingly psychological and was maintained in order to create some degree of separation between her domains. While, for three of the participants, high levels of integration were generally deemed positively and as contributing to their respective senses of well-being, this clearly is not the case for all teachers. For instance, Kinman and Wray (2013) found that ideal levels of work-life integrations varied substantially among a large population of UK tertiary-level teachers. The results of the study also show how these three tertiary-level third-age language teachers perceived their retirement paths and managed their work-to-retirement transitions. All three teachers strongly expressed wanting to participate actively in the profession for as long as possible. For example, Michael explained his retirement plans: I mean, things will continue more or less as they are now I think, um, not absolutely reduced. I mean, this year or next year I’m going to do more than I did last year, for example, it just depends on what offers come in and what projects arrive.
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It is also worth reflecting on the ways in which the participants in this study reflected on and described their degrees of autonomy and flexibility in relation to their work. Each teacher explicitly expressed that the flexibility and amount of autonomy they perceived having was central to their enjoyment of the profession over time, and a key contributor to their well-being. Michael, Jackie, and Samuel described engaging with their work more or less volitionally. In a 2006 study, employees who had more perceived “psychological job control had significantly lower turnover intention,” as well as less work-family conflict and less depression (Kossek, Lautch, & Eaton, 2006, p. 348). Though we cannot draw causality, reflecting on third age language teachers’ volitional engagement and/or perceived control at work and how this might affect their well-being constitutes an interesting area for further study. Olson-Buchanan and Boswell (2006), mention volition in a study on levels of integration and segmentation within a population of university employees. They argue, “it may be that some ‘integrators’ prefer it to be on their terms—that is, they desire choice with regard to crossing over roles” (p. 442). Interestingly, control may be especially relevant to teachers in terms of their intention to leave their jobs, and therefore of central importance to third-age teachers, though it should be said we are not endorsing the lengthening of all teachers’ careers. Considering how control and language teacher well-being could be further linked in future studies and in other contexts would certainly be important to examine in more depth. While this study examined the attitudes and preferences of these teachers’ WLB, in reality, this is only one part of a complex puzzle. In their study, Kossek et al. (2006) argued that it was both individual differences and the nature of the job that influence what they refer to as an individual’s boundary management strategy, which they define as “the principles one uses to organize, and separate role demands and expectations into specific realms of home and work.” Desrochers and Sargent (2004) similarly expressed that whether a highly integrated or highly segmented strategy would positively affect the well-being of a given individual would be dependent on that person’s individual characteristics, understanding of their own domains, their unique preferences, other contextual factors, workplace schedule, workplace policies, level of social support at home and work, and the level of fit, or congruence felt between their preferences and actual experience. While we were primarily interested in our participants’ attitudes and subjective experiences in this particular study, looking also at policies and contexts that allow language teachers to thrive in their professional roles throughout their careers is also of considerable importance. For example, in one study with a population of university faculty in the US, the greater the perceived institutional support, the greater the well-being of the participants (McCoy et al. 2013). The researchers concluded that policies that support work-life integration “should be marketed and promoted to both men and women faculty members, in all disciplines, in all stages of family life” (p. 321). Tertiary institutions would be wise to turn to research such as this when considering ways to support and promote WLB among their employees regardless of age, gender, or personal and professional life phases.
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In terms of language teaching and learning, it is also worth considering how a subject that is so highly interpersonal and identity-based (Golombek & Doran, 2014) may affect how WLB is experienced by this particular type of teacher. Regarding interventions, one potentially useful exploration would be to investigate how particular boundary management strategies (Kossek, Noe, & DeMarr, 1999; Kossek et al., 2006) may affect the well-being and degree of work-life integration within language teacher populations. Kossek et al. (1999) explain that these boundary management strategies involve “decision-making choices governing boundary management and role embracement of multiple roles” (p. 102). Many boundary management strategies may be enacted unconsciously but bringing them to the surface through awareness raising and reflecting on how one might interact, cross, maintain, or construct boundaries between various life domains may be worth reflecting on. As the level of integration/segmentation perceived and preferred for individuals is highly particular (Nippert-Eng, 1996), finding boundary management strategies that work for teachers at a variety of locations on the continuum is essential.
6 Conclusion In this study, we have examined the ways in which three TALTs and/or TATEs working at Austrian universities navigate physical, psychological, and temporal boundaries between their personal and professional lives. We have also examined how these teachers have navigated their retirement paths. We have found that these teachers have segmented or integrated their work and life domains in highly individualistic ways. In the case of these teachers, interrelations between the two domains depended on the teachers’ individual characteristics, preferences, work and life contexts, ideal versus desired levels of integration or segmentation, and different sources of social support. We have also found that considerable amounts of autonomy and flexibility experienced by these teachers helped them navigate their retirement in ways they deemed suitable personally and professionally. The results highlight that, for these teachers, daily border-crossings were dynamic across time and teaching career phases. The results also show the importance of having autonomy and flexibility in tailoring work and life domains, which, for these teachers, has contributed positively to their personal and professional well-being. While these three teachers enjoyed contributing volitionally to the field and felt genuine enjoyment in engaging with the profession following retirement, certainly many other teachers may benefit in terms of their well-being by having tighter distinctions between work and other domains, and not working a single day after retirement. In closing, Ashforth et al. (2000) posit that “there is likely an optimal fit between an individual and his or her workplace regarding the balance between segmentation and integration, and organizations benefit with increased member commitment when they provide a workplace that accommodates members’ preferences” (p. 488). Presumably, this could also be the case for those within the field of language education. Though attaining an optimal fit, and maintaining this over time between various life
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domains is perhaps wishful thinking, reflecting on, and aiming towards a subjectively beneficial fit constitutes a logical first step for both institutions and the individual language educators inhabiting those institutions. Conscious planning and boundary management in support of third-age language teachers will likely be most effective if and when it is negotiated collaboratively by both teachers and institutions.
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Study Abroad: L2 Self-efficacy and Engagement in Intercultural Interactions Gianna Hessel
Abstract Challenging boundaries is an inherent and prevalent theme in study abroad research. Understanding students’ engagement in intercultural interactions during study abroad has been one of the key issues in this field as these interactions hold considerable potential for facilitating SLA. This chapter examines links between students’ self-efficacy in using the L2, and their engagement in opportunities for intercultural interaction during study abroad. The empirical study involved 96 German ERASMUS students who were studying abroad in the UK and who completed English proficiency tests and comprehensive questionnaires at program entry and after the first term (three months) abroad. The statistical analysis shows that students’ self-efficacy in listening and speaking in English upon arrival in the UK was significantly associated with perceived differences in the quantity and quality of their intercultural interactions with host national students. The findings highlight the significance of students’ L2 self-conceptions in shaping patterns of social contact abroad and that even in the case of study abroad participants with extensive L2 learning histories, these conceptions may prevent students from engaging in social interactions and building relationships through the L2 when such opportunities arise. The chapter concludes with the most pertinent implications for study abroad research and practice.
1 Introduction The promotion of student mobility forms an integral part of European higher education policy and it has become a key objective in the internationalization strategies of higher education institutions in the individual member states (Engel, Sandstrom, Van der Aa, & Glass, 2015). The EU’s ERASMUS program (European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), which is now part of ERASMUS+, has developed into the world’s largest mobility program for students and staff in higher G. Hessel (B) University of Graz, Graz, Austria e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 A. Kostoulas (ed.), Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, Second Language Learning and Teaching, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17057-8_12
education. During the ERASMUS year 2013–14 alone, a total of 212,208 university students participated in ERASMUS study abroad, with Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and Turkey being the top sending countries and Spain, France, Germany, the UK, and Italy the top receiving countries (European Union, 2015). Two of the program’s key learning objectives are “improved foreign language competences” and “enhanced intercultural awareness” (European Commission, 2014, p. 31). Participation in study abroad challenges boundaries not only through the students’ physical relocation to a foreign national context, but also, and especially through opportunities for engagement in personal interactions with other L2 speakers whose cultural and social background may differ markedly from the students’ own. An abundance of opportunities for personal interaction in the foreign language (L2) is arguably among the key features that set apart the study abroad and the traditional home country environment. It is therefore unsurprising that there has been considerable interest in the potential of these interactions for facilitating second language acquisition (SLA). L2-mediated interactions may promote SLA through opportunities for negotiation of meaning, comprehensible input, implicit and explicit feedback, noticing, and the production of output (Krashen, 1985; Long, 1996, 2015; Schmidt, 1990; Swain, 1985). Some studies also suggest that intercultural interactions during study abroad may enhance students’ L2 learning motivation (e.g., Cubillos & Ilvento, 2013; Kinginger, 2013) and promote intercultural learning (e.g., Hernández, 2010). On the assumption that L1 native speakers provide a more viable source of linguistic input for SLA, the focus of research in this area so far has been on interactions of study abroad participants with host national students. Despite their significance, our understanding of the factors that may lead or keep students from engaging in intercultural interactions with host national students when such opportunities arise is still developing, as is our understanding of how such engagement may be more effectively facilitated. Thus far, the focus of this discussion has been almost exclusively on exchange students’ ease or difficulty in accessing host national networks, as well as on their personal motivation to engage in such interactions framed in terms of cultural and linguistic interest (e.g., Hernández, 2010; Isabelli-García, 2006; Kinginger, 2008). In contrast, students’ L2 self-conceptions have received much less attention, and remain largely overlooked in this context. This seems surprising considering the substantial interest in the role of learner self-concept in SLA and L2 learning motivation more generally (e.g., Boo, Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015; Csizér & Magid, 2014; Kostoulas & Mercer, 2016). In particular, one may argue that in largely informal study abroad settings, self-related psychological factors may be critical to a better understanding of self-motivated engagement in opportunities for L2 practice and of individual differences in L2 attainment, including opportunities for using the L2 in social interactions. The present study therefore explores links between students’ self-conceptions as L2 users, and their engagement in opportunities for intercultural interactions with host national students during study abroad.
2 Literature Review
Study Abroad: L2 Self-efficacy and Engagement …
Self-concept refers to the beliefs individuals hold about themselves in a range of different domains, such as their appearance, their social skills or their linguistic abilities (Hamlyn, 1983; Marsh & Shavelson, 1985). These beliefs extend across time, containing conceptions of the self in the past, which are still remembered but no longer valid, conceptions of the self in the present, and in the future. The latter are also referred to as possible selves, which express possibilities for self-development (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Self-conceptions not only serve as an interpretive lens, but also have the capacity to regulate behavior (Higgins, 1987; Markus & Wurf, 1987). Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) is a well-researched construct that refers to the present-orientated parts of a person’s self-concept. It features prominently in Albert W. Bandura’s social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986), which rests on the basic tenet that “what people think, believe, and feel affects how they behave” (p. 25). In his theory of human functioning, the human capability of self-reflection and the self-beliefs that individuals hold are most significant in influencing goal-directed behavior. Among these self-beliefs is the individual’s self-efficacy, which refers to “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” (Bandura, 1997, p. 3). Significantly, perceptions of self-efficacy are conceptualized as specific to a given activity and further, as variable “within the same activity domain at different levels of difficulty, and under different circumstances” (Bandura, 1997, p. 11), and thus need to be measured at such levels of specificity. Bandura (1994) conceptualized self-efficacy as a key determinant of how people feel, think, motivate themselves, and behave in relation to specific activities. This includes what kind of activities are pursued, as how threatening and controllable they are perceived, how much effort is expended on them, whether individuals persist in the face of obstacles, as well as levels of perceived stress and anxiety during completion (Bandura, 1994, p. 71). There is indeed a substantial amount of empirical evidence to suggest that self-efficacy in a given domain is a strong predictor of task engagement and performance, most of which concerns the self-efficacy beliefs, learning behaviors, and academic attainment of pupils and university students (see, e.g., Graham & Weiner, 1996; Mills, Pajares, & Herron, 2007). In the context of L2 learning, stronger self-efficacy in a given L2 domain, such as listening, reading, writing, and speaking the second language, has been positively associated with engagement in L2 usage, as opposed to avoidance behaviors and with the absence of anxiety when using the L2 (e.g., Mills, Pajares, & Herron, 2006). Moreover, higher levels of L2 self-efficacy have been associated with more effort expended on L2 learning (e.g., Mills et al., 2006), increased knowledge and deployment of more effective learner strategies (e.g., Graham, 2007), greater persistence when difficulties are encountered (e.g., Matthews, 2010), valuing of L2 learning (e.g., Mills et al., 2007), and higher proficiency attainment in a given domain (e.g., Hsieh & Kang, 2010). While students’ self-efficacy or expectations of success in using and learning the L2 have been identified as a significant factor in L2 attainment in the context of L2 instruction at both school and university level, it has received far less attention as a predictor of L2 learning success in the context of study abroad (e.g., Hessel, 2017). Yet, there are grounds to assume that L2 learner self-efficacy may be
critical to understanding self-motivated engagement in opportunities for L2 practice and differential L2 learning success in largely informal study abroad environments. The present study will therefore empirically examine links between students’ L2 self-efficacy and their engagement in intercultural interactions with host national students during study abroad. The following research question guided the study: RQ How may students’ self-efficacy in listening and speaking the L2 be associated with their engagement in opportunities for interactions with host national students, and the perceived quality of these contact experiences?
3 Methodology 3.1 The Study Abroad Program The present study is set in the context of the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS), the world’s largest formal exchange program for students and staff, which now forms a major part of ERASMUS+ (European Commission, 2014). ERASMUS exchanges last between three and twelve months (6.2 months on average, European Commission, 2015), which is considerably longer than the short study abroad programs that are increasingly popular among students in North America (Kinginger, 2015). The preparation of ERASMUS students typically involves assistance with academic and administrative matters, and advice on dealing with practicalities in the host country in the form of one-off preparatory events or online learning modules. Further support that students receive from their departmental ERASMUS coordinators varies greatly from some initial academic advice to more comprehensive mentorship before and/or during the exchange, depending on the individual. Linguistic preparation and in-program provision of L2 instruction are not a mandatory part of ERASMUS. Placements are typically implemented in the form of a direct-enrolment program where exchange students attend courses together with local students. Participants in the current study reported having 11.3 academic contact hours per week on average.
3.2 Participants The participants were 96 German university students (71 female, 24 male, 1 unspecified; mean age: 22.67, SD = 2.36) who were studying a range of subjects at 44 different higher education institutions across Germany. In order to identify them correctly as outgoing ERASMUS students to the UK, the students were recruited via email through the ERASMUS office of their German home institution. Of the study participants, 52 students were studying in the UK for two terms or more, while 44 students were staying in the host country for one term only. Upon departure, students had
Study Abroad: L2 Self-efficacy and Engagement …
completed an average of four terms of their home degree with good success (average GPA = 1.9 on a scale from 1 (highest) to 6 (lowest)). All students had extensive English language learning histories with 8–9 years of learning English at school and an average of two terms of English language instruction received at university. Their proficiency at program entry, based on their most recent IELTS/TOEFL/CAE result and the baseline proficiency test, was upper-intermediate to advanced.
3.3 Instruments All 96 students completed comprehensive questionnaires in German prior to departure, after one term (three months) abroad, and prior to their return. The questionnaires were administered via an online platform and accessed anonymously with a personalized link that was emailed directly to each participant by the survey host. Beyond a fixed set of psychological factors, including the self-efficacy in using the L2 in social interactions scale (see Appendix), the questionnaires also contained open- and closed-ended items that inquired into the participants’ L2 learning and mobility history, into their academic background, the study abroad placement, their course work and extracurricular activities abroad, perceived institutional support, their L2 learning experiences and motivational development, their intercultural contact experiences, and into their reflections on the study abroad experience as a whole. Table 1 provides an overview of the self-efficacy and social contact variables that feature in the correlational analysis below, including their theoretical and operational definitions.
3.4 Data Analysis The quantitative questionnaire data were imported directly into SPSS 21 for descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. Correlational analysis using Pearson correlation coefficients was carried out, whereby students’ levels of self-efficacy upon program entry were correlated with the social contact variables. Where the distribution of scores for one or several variables deviated from normal, a bootstrapping procedure (Efron & Tibshirani, 1993) with bias-corrected and accelerated (BCa) 95% confidence intervals was applied to the significance testing. Normality was examined using the skewness and kurtosis parameters (