Language and Power: Applying Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to Second Language Education (SLE)Selected slides Ali Hadidi York University Dec. 11, 2009
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 5
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.
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
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? 11
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? 12
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 13
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 ) 14
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.
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)