Language and Power: Applying Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to Second Language Education (SLE) Ali Hadidi York University Dec. 11, 2009
Outline Objective, purpose, and questions Definitions Ideology Critical discourse analysis (CDA) Capitalist ideology Problem of ideology in SLE Alternative solutions to the problem Tools of CDA Values un/discovered by CDA CDA applied to SLE
Objective • To review several seminal works on critical discourse analysis (CDA) • To relate them to second language pedagogy Purpose • To propose practices that can educate ESL learners about discursive characteristics of the texts they process Guiding questions • What are the theoretical underpinnings of CDA? • How can critical language awareness through CDA inform second language learning? • How can CDA be implemented in Second Language Education?
General definitions (Richards and Schmidt, 2002) • Discourse: “ …language … produced as a result of an act of communication … refer[ring] to larger units of language [than sentence] such as paragraphs, conversations, and interviews” (brackets added). • Discourse analysis (DA): “the study of how sentences in spoken and written language form larger meaningful units such as paragraphs, conversations, interviews, etc.” • Critical discourse analysis (CDA): analysis of “texts and other discourse types … to identify the ideology and values underlying them. It seeks to reveal the interests and power relations” in language use.
Identity, SLE, and ideology • Learners construct new identities in their learning experience (Swain and Deters, 2007). • Identities are informed by not only the syntactic, lexical, morphological, and phonological elements of the L2 grammar, • but how they personally “appropriate” (Fairclough, 1995) this knowledge at a discoursal level. • Contained in the appropriation of knowledge are the implicit or presupposed ideologies that learners are subliminally exposed to. • Ideology is linguistically (discursively) mediated (Fowler et al, 1979, p.185, cited in Young & Harrison, 2004, p.3)
Ideology defined Althusser (1971), ideology : “the system of the ideas and representations which dominate the mind of a man or a social group” (p.158). Eagleton (1991, p.29) six definitions of ideology: the process of production of ideas ideas symbolizing a social group ideas promoted and legitimized despite opposition ideas promoted for the benefit of a dominant social group the ideas which are distorted and legitimized by the dominant group the ideas that are false and are promoted by the dominant group, but arise from the material structure of the society 6
Exposure to ideology: A double- edged sword, a dilemma • It can familiarize learners with the discursive norms and functions of the dominant social order • can allow participation and upward mobility in this order • But, can surreptitiously expose them to a process of ideological indoctrination • passive conformists vs. alert citizens. • L2 learning, without a critical awareness can promote and (inadvertently) legitimize the dictates and practices of the dominant order. • Example: mainstream media texts as sources of “authentic” instructional material to foster linguistic and sociolinguistic competence. • creating a cauldron of competing pedagogical forces in the classroom.
What to do with ideology: ESL educators options • Keep the ideologically driven texts out of the classroom (an avoidance strategy) if at all possible • Use them as if they were ideology free to try to only elicit language forms, • Adopt a CDA approach toward such texts • to impart linguistic knowledge • to explicate the learners’ potential roles vis-à-vis agents of power in social contexts such as the workplace, the media, and so on.
CDA defined more precisely • “... an analytical framework- a theory and method- for studying language in its relation to power and ideology. This framework is seen … as a resource for people who are struggling against domination and oppression in its linguistic forms.” (Fairclough, 1995, p.1) • “a form of ‘social practice’ in which language use is seen as [simultaneously] socially influenced and influential … consistent with a view of education which prioritizes the development of the learners’ capacities to examine and judge the world carefully, and if necessary to change it” Cots (2006, p.336). • “educational researchers increasingly have turned to CDA to answer a set of questions about the relationship between language and society “(Rogers at al., 2005, p.365).
Eight principles of CDA, Pennycook (2001, p.80, citing Wodak, 1996) • CDA addresses social problems • Power relations are discursive • Discourse constitutes society and culture • Does ideological work • Is historical • Need[s] a socio-cognitive approach • Is interpretative and explanatory • Is a socially committed scientific paradigm
Old capitalistideology about commodities and standardization standardized consumption as the “moral basis” for a solidarity to consume commodities that would allow fulfilling the American dream Promoted one dream New capitalist ideology about customization of products that are dovetailed to cater to individual desires. promotes a form of diversitywhich is an artefact of high-tech markets. Capitalist ideology elaborated Gee, Hull, and Lankshear (1996, pp. 42-43)
New capitalist ideology and education/knowledge Gee et al (1996, p.52) • Workplace, which education is ultimately intended for, is a system in which intelligence is distributed throughout, decentralized and easier to manage. • The new workplace similar to a mobat, an MIT robot without a central brain, • In mobat decision making is distributed throughout its mechanical body parts • distributed cognition • parts function by efficiently communicating with each other • mobat more mobile, • intelligence is decentralized, then when a part breaks down it can be more easily replaced. • Similarly, in the new workplace, knowledge is compartmentalized and distributed, • In the new workplace communicating this knowledge is more important (p.58) than individual knowledge • The vehicle to communicate this knowledge is language
Ideology and education • The ideological forces that control education tend to keep critical ideas out of education (Akbari, 2008). • Example: evolution vs. intelligent design • The former is conveniently included in school curricula. • The latter is selectively left out. • Educational materials can be used to enrich the learners’ linguistic repertoire (Pavlenko, 2007) • And raise learners’ awareness about their agency in the social process they are an agent. (Swain & Deters, 2007).
A dilemma: Is incorporating politically charged material into ESL activities pedagogically sound? • Exercise discretion? • Learners have limited cognitive resources to process form and meaning simultaneously. • A controversial topic can get students to talk: rich language use- may be! • But, perhaps, not rich language usage. • Unless the activity is carefully controlled within the learner’s zone of proximal development (ZPD, Vygotsky, 1978), which could result in comprehensible output (Swain, 1985), • The activity can backfire and create a zone of confrontational engagement (ZCE) leading to largely incomprehensible rants, or quasi-comprehensible and linguistically ill-formed utterances.
Solution? • Not an avoidance strategy • But carefully and intelligently appropriating linguistically mediated ideology in the classroom to serve both the linguistic objective of teaching form and the sociocultural objective of raising awareness. • Text selection for CDA, “CDA needs to be clear about the texts which it selects as objects of critical analysis. Ideologically the most effective may be the text which does not overtly declare its ideological constitution, the bland text,” Figueriredo (2000, p. 145, citing Kress, 1993): • Consistent with my notion of a text rich enough for CDA, yet not so provocative as to create a zone of confrontational engagement in the classroom.
Lexico-grammatical devices the media use to an ideological end according to Fowler (1991)
Disclaimer: Fowler (1991) • The mere use of such devices is not necessarily ideologically motivated and can be due to bureaucratic reasons, or the need for brevity. • Therefore a theory of context is necessary to interpret the use of lexico-grammatical devices (van Dijk, 2001).
Transitivity (agentless passivization, adapted from Fowler, 1991, p.79) Plans to privatize hydro discussed Who discussed it with whom? Foreign detainees declared illegal? Who made the declaration? Application: Brevity? Bureaucratic communication? Ideologically motivated? 18
Nominalization He rejected a call to delay the enquiry(adapted from Fowler, 1991, p.79) Who made the call? Who conducts enquiry? Quarry load-shedding problem ( a headline adapted from Fairclough, 1989, p. 50) Who is doing the (stone) shedding? Trucks? Who is accountable? 19
Modality (Fowler, 1991, p.86) Truth, certainty, probability The grits will vote budget down Obligation Government must take action to curb terrorism Permission You can switch the plan Desirability He was right in endorsing the invasion 20
Lexical/semantic maps, Vocabulary representation of world for a culture (Fowler, 1991, p.83 Example: chomped on fingernails … looked on anxiously ….hoping against hope …blow it … sit comfortably … in days of yore. … dark days … correct … disastrous gaffe … … compound … agony. (National Post, Dec 11, 2008. p. A.1 ) 21
A theory of context (van Dijk, 2006) … contexts are not ‘objective’ or ‘deterministic’ constraints of society or culture at all, but subjective participant interpretations, constructions or definitions of … aspects of the social environment (p.163). 22
More on context (van Dijk, 2001, pp108-115) Context model: Local model: immediate, interactional situation where communicative event takes place. It is a mental model of the communicative event Event model: Discourse interpreted relative to the users’ mental models about the facts or events 23
Discursive values in CDA Fairclough (1989, p.112, citing Edelman, 1974) • Experiential value, covers the content dimension of meaning, “... a trace of … the text producer’s experience of the world,” reflecting his or her knowledge and beliefs.” • Relational value “is a trace of the social relationships which are enacted” in discourse. • Expressive values cover the roles and social identities in discourse. The values can manifest themselves in words and syntax.
Example of values in the lexicon • experientialvalues of two writers on the same topic of psychiatric practices; • Text 1: “deprivation of food, bed, walks in the open air, visitors, mail, or telephone calls,” • Text 2: “discouraging sick behaviour and encouraging healthy behaviour through selective granting of rewards.” • CDA: The rewards in text 2 are those that text 1 claims patients are deprived of (Fairclough, 1989, p.113). • relational values embedded in discourse is the use of formal and informal language, • compare prior toresumption ofnegotiations with before the talks begin. • expressive value of words, “…While Mr. Ignatieff's advisors chomped on fingernails as they looked on anxiously, hoping against hope that their guy wasn't going to blow it on day one …” the National Post (2008), • CDA: The writer’s expressive value of Mr. Ignatieff (and the liberal party) is manifest in the italicized words: one of cynicism and adversity.
Example of values in syntax Fairclough (1989, p.120-129) • experientialvalues: passivisation with or without agents and nominalization • relationalvalues: modalities (declarative, interrogative, etc.) • expressivevalues other types of modality (permission, obligation, possibility, probability) as exponents of • Example: • Student: My boss stopped me from attending your course (agency explicit). • Teacher: I am sorry that your plans have had to change • CDA: nominalization removes agency (experiential value) • CDA: modality is maintained (expressive)
CDA applied to school discourse • Gebhard (2002) used Gee at al.’s (1996) framework and Fairclough’s (1989) CDA tools to study the discourses of a Silicon Valley elementary school • Concluded that the school placed ESL students in a vulnerable situation. • She studied, in particular, the lexicon and euphemisms, whether agency was clear, how passives, nominals, pronouns, declaratives, interrogatives, and imperatives were used, and what semiotic systems, in the form of graphics, were used in conjunction with text (Geghard ,2002, p.23).
CDA applied to the teaching of argumentation • Van Eemeren et al. (1997) demonstrated how popular forms of argumentation can be fallacious. They provide the following example from Associated Press, 1993: “A recent study found that women are more likely than men to be murdered at work. 40% of the women who died on the job in 1993 were murdered. 15% of the men who died on the job during the same period were murdered.” (p.208) • The argument looks valid on the surface and if articulated with conviction and eloquence, it may pass as one, too. However, it is not necessarily true. • For the conclusion that female homicide rate is higher to be true, one needs to know male and female population sizes to calculate the likelihood of female workplace homicide with respect to the total population of males and females.
CDA applied to the teaching of argumentationWorker mortality due to natural death, accidents, and homicide
CDA applied to the teaching of argumentation: Logical fallacies • The plea to prove a negative • Harmon and Wilson (2006, p.57): • argumentum ad populum (praising the audience), • argumentum ad hominem (attacking the person), • non sequitur (the stated antecedent does not necessitate the asserted consequent), • post hoc ergo propter hoc (chronological sequence does not necessitate causality), • false dichotomy, and false analogy. • Equip learners with the kind of social cognition, which Condor and Antaki (1997) define as “mental processing of information about the social world” (p. 12).
CDA applied to reading (Handout) • Cots (2006) introduces an EFL activity that draws on Fairclough (1989 & 1992) • Learners reflect on three types of practice: social, discursive, and textual. (See handout) • At the social level the activity is designed to “give learners a view of language, as a situated phenomenon”. • At the discourse level, it centres on the identification of type and genre, intertextuality, propositions, coherence, audience. • At the textual level it focuses on the formal and semantic features of text (Cots 2006, p.339-340).
CDA applied to listening and writing (Handout) • go beyond the traditional comprehension questions that elicit “what the teacher has in mind.” • Ask questions about experiential, interpersonal, and textual meanings. With a view of Halliday’s functional grammar (1994)
Summary • A reading of some seminal works in CDA • Importance of ideology, lexico-grammatical and functional systemic grammar tools, • Discussion of how they relate to SL instruction, • Practical applications of CDA in SLE based on the reviewed literature.