Applied Linguistics is a technology which makes abstract ideas and research findings accessible and relevant to the real world; it mediates between theory and practice. Kaplan and Widdowson 1992.
Structure of this talk • technology in general. • development and scope of applied linguistics • an example from applied linguistics and language teaching
Technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes
Technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes especially for industry
ESRC • Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth • Influencing Behaviour and Informing Interventions • Vibrant and Fair Society
The application of linguistic knowledge to some object – or applied linguistics, as its name implies – is an activity. It is not a theoretical study. It makes use of the findings of theoretical studies. The applied linguist is a consumer, or user, not a producer, of theories. Corder 1973:10
Of all the areas of applied linguistics, none has shown the effects of linguistic findings, principles and techniques more than foreign-language teaching – so much so that the term ‘applied linguistics’ is often taken as being synonymous with that task. Corder 1973: cover notes, emphasis added
linguistics applied v. applied linguistics (Widdowson 1984)
The theoretical and empirical investigation of real-world problems in which language is a central issue. (Brumfit 1995:27)
It is hard to think of any ‘real-world’ problems – from global warming, to refugees to genetic counselling to outsourced call centres to AIDS/HIV to military intelligence – that do not have a crucial component of language use Myers 2005
Applied Linguistics AIMS (current 2014) the study of language related problems in specific situations in which people use and learn languages.... ..... within this framework the journal welcomes contributions from .....
bilingualism and multilingualism • computer mediated communication • conversation analysis • corpus linguistics • critical discourse analysis • deaf linguistics • discourse analysis and pragmatics • first and additional language learning, teaching and use • forensic linguistics • language assessment and testing • language planning and policy • language for specific purposes • lexicography • literacies • multimodal communication • rhetoric and stylistics • translation and interpreting.
applied linguistics is a technology • decisions about technologies involve evaluation • contemporary applied linguistics technology is both dynamic and broad in scope.
An example The monolingual assumption The best way to teach and learn a language is through the medium of that language itself.
Criteria for teaching and learning • Historical • ‘Scientific’ • Pedagogic • Educational
“I will say that I have taken a strong stand against any use of the L1 in an L2 classroom, and all my TESL students know that if they ever utter a word of Bahasa Malaysia in the classroom I will burst into their classroom and strangle them in front of their students.” (Interview data, Marcia Fisk-Ong 2003)
Grammar Translation • dry • dull • all writing, no speaking • all accuracy, no fluency • all form, no communication • easily mocked
The cat of my aunt is more treacherous than the dog of your uncle • My sons have bought the mirrors of the duke. • Horses are taller than tigers. • The philosopher pulled the lower jaw of the hen.
An alternative to extremism • ‘judicious’ or ‘optimal’ own-language use Macaro (1997) • ‘appropriate’ combination Stern (1992). • a structured and principled deployment of the own language, Butzkamm & Caldwell (2009: 150)
not • overuse, or even major use • unplanned incidental occurrence • resorting to own-language use when tired • or short of time.
Justifications of a technology • Historical
The businessman Henry Sweet 1845-1912 The academic
Expediency, commerce and politics • immigration/ travel/ business • multilingual classes • monolingual teachers • single print runs • national interests
We have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house. (President T Roosevelt 1926: 554)
Justifications of a technology • Historical • ‘Scientific’
English Language Teaching 1882 Cross lingual Teaching (translation, L1 explanations) Intralingual Teaching (aka The Direct Method) 1900 Form Focus (L2 explanation synthetic syllabus) Meaning focus (analytic syllabuses natural approach,,CLT task based teaching) 1970 2014
How well do these analyses succeed in generating precise predictions for patterns in language learning? Can we use these predictions to improve language learning?” (MacWhinney 2006: 734)
Problem One: What is ‘success’? • Native-like form • Native-like use • Subconscious automated knowledge • Monolingual use • Cultural conformity
Authentic contemporary code switching • mixed language partnerships • migrant families • schools • workforces • international businesses • multilingual notices and announcements • internet multiple language use • films, news
“SLA researchers seem to have neglected the fact that the goal of SLA is bilingualism” Sridhar and Sridhar (1986:5)
Problem Two: no research!! “Unfortunately, empirical work on the effect of translation exercises on L2 learners morphosyntax is scant.” Källkvist (2008) “To our knowledge, no research has examined the value of contrastive FFI [Form Focused Instruction] of vocabulary, such as interlingual comparisons with learner’s L1, or translation.” Laufer and Girsai (2008)
“You are right - translation is given little attention by SLA researchers. The only exception is that translation is sometimes used as an elicitation tool to obtain L2 data. As such it is viewed sceptically because it is likely to encourage L1 transfer and thus to overstate the role this plays in L2 acquisition..”Rod Ellis (personal communication))
Criteria for teaching and learning • Historical • ‘Scientific’ • Pedagogic
“Psychology and linguistics have caused a good deal of harm by pretending to have answers to those questions and telling teachers (...) how they should behave. Often the ideas presented by the scientists are totally crazy and they may cause trouble. (...) The truth of the matter is that about 99 percent of teaching is making the students feel interested in the material”. (Chomsky 1988:180-182) www.nndb.com
“I haven't heard of any data-based L2 motivation studies that used L1 use in the classroom as a motivational variable.” (Zoltan Dornyei, personal communication)
NATURAL, INEVITABLE “while in the classroom the teachers try to keep the two languages separate, the learners in their own minds keep the two in contact.” (Widdowson 2003:150)
REDUCING STRESS “….putting students at ease, conveying teacher's empathy and, in general, creating a less threatening atmosphere.” (Canagarajah 1999 : 132).
PROMOTING TEACHER STUDENT UNDERSTANDING “At this point I was truly concerned about his feelings and unconsciously switched to English, the language that, quite frankly, was the most ‘real’ for all of us (.....) The point is that my concern about my students as individuals, as human beings, at times transcends my concern for with L2 acquisition process.” Edstrom (2006)
COMMUNICATIVE “The research evolved from the personal experience of my return to the foreign language classroom as an adult. (….) This began the very first day of class when the teacher spoke only Spanish. I felt I had walked into the second act of a three act play, or that I had gotten into the wrong classroom. I had enrolled in a beginning class because I wanted to learn the language, so of course I could not understand anything the teacher was saying, and wondering why she acted as if I should was worrisome, making an already stressful situation even more so. (....) (Brooks-Lewis 2009)
PROMOTING LEARNING • confidence and organization • explicit knowledge • avoidance avoidance • not falling for faux amis • acknowledging student expertise • linking new to existing knowledge
Claimed disadvantages • Interference/ transfer • Lack of automaticity • Word-for-wordism