Peter Grundy Durham University <email@example.com> One of the most dispiriting areas in the study of language? You don’t say! You’ll be asking for a rethink next!
Language awareness is a person’s sensitivity to and conscious awareness of the nature of language and its role in human life (UK National Council for Language in Education Working Party on Language Awareness, 1985) Does ‘conscious awareness’ imply that that there could be non-conscious awareness?
Language awareness can be defined as explicit knowledge about language, and conscious perception and sensitivity in language learning, language teaching and language use. (Association of Language Awareness, 1992-) Only explicit knowledge? Does this mean just declarative knowledge then?
Language awareness refers to the development in learners of an enhanced c0nsciousness of and sensitivity to the forms and functions of language. (Ron Carter, ELTJournal 57/1, 2003) Still unclear: is awareness necessarily conscious?
Language Awareness is a mental attribute which develops through paying motivated attention to language in use, and which enables language learners to gradually gain insight into how languages work. (Brian Tomlinson, ELTJournal 57/3, 2003) Eh?
The first three definitions use the term ‘conscious’ / ‘consciousness’ but don’t draw attention to the methodological problem posed by the study of consciousness Exactly, Professor Egghead! You imply, if I understand you correctly, we may not be aware of our own awareness!
Language awareness as a set of beliefs about language
Teacher language awareness
How teachers manage learner language issues
NESTs and non-NESTs
Deficit oriented teaching
Teaching oriented to enhanced awareness of selected regular or irregular target language features
A language awareness syllabus: explicit teaching -> declarative knowledge vs an inductive approach -> procedural knowledge
Critical language awareness
Language awareness and SLA
The role of apperception / noticing in SLA - awareness distinguished from understanding
Salience and language awareness: frequency, markedness, affect, etc.
Degrees of salience
Language awareness and levels
Form: syntax, morphology, phonetics, phonology
Code, especially in bi- multi- and plurilingual contexts
Affective as well as cognitive
Forgive me, Dr Brainbox, but there seems to be a lot going on here, so why did you say that this is one of the most dispiriting areas in the study of language ? For a start, because it’s virtually unknown for the literature in this area to provide any linguistic evidence of the phenomenon
Evidence, awareness and consciousness ?
I suppose you might find the evidence you’re looking for if you studied pragmatic, and particularly metapragmatic, phenomena? Precisely! But pragmatics is rarely mentioned in the language awareness literature , and then only superficially. Let me show you!
Teacher Language Awareness Stephen Andrews CUP 2007 pp.232 No mention of pragmatics
Language awareness and language learning Agneta Svalberg Language Teaching 40, 287-308, 2007 ca.15,000 words Pragmatics mentioned in four places - 1 p.289: Pragmatic competence, for example, would require some awareness to be focused both on forms as such, and their function meanings in the social contexts in which they occur (Schmidt 1993).
Language awareness and language learning Agneta Svalberg Language Teaching 40, 287-308, 2007 ca.15,000 words Pragmatics mentioned in four places - 2 p.295: For teachers to make informed choices regarding the teaching/learning of pragmatics , Kasper (1997) suggests that they need to be aware not only of native speakers’ use of language but also of the pragmatics of the classroom, including cross-cultural issues.. In Brazil, a brief course on pragmatics failed to produce a change in teachers’ classroom practices (Lana Chavez de Castro 2005) possibly because pragmatics had not been discussed in relation to naturally occurring classroom situations.
Language awareness and language learning Agneta Svalberg Language Teaching 40, 287-308, 2007 ca.15,000 words Pragmatics mentioned in four places - 3 p.298: Hinkel (1999) addresses culture in classroom interaction, its effect on writing and acquisition of pragmatic competence, and in relation to teaching materials.
Language awareness and language learning Agneta Svalberg Language Teaching 40, 287-308, 2007 ca.15,000 words Pragmatics mentioned in four places - 4 p.300: Being bilingual, Jessner asserts, has cognitive effects in itself such as enhanced metalinguistic awareness and an enhanced multilingual capacity to monitor, and it positively affects divergent and creative thinking, pragmatic competence, communicative sensitivity and translation skills.
Ten questions about language awareness Rod Bolitho, Ronald Carter, Rebecca Hughes, Roz Ivanič, Hitomi Masuhara and Brian Tomlinson ELTJournal 57/3, 251-9, 2003 One mention of pragmatics p.253 The relatively new disciplines of discourse analysis, pragmatics , and, especially, corpus linguistics are pushing back existing frontiers and compelling new descriptions of language.
Language awareness Ron Carter ELTJournal 57/1, 64-5, 2003 Key Concept No mention of pragmatics
Gosh! Yes, Dr Brainbox, how depressing for pragmaticians like us! We really do need a rethink! And especially when there are lots of insightful things about consciousness written by pragmaticians!
At the implicit end of the scale we find metapragmatic indexicality ... It is here that one may situate .. ‘contextualization cues’, the linguistic means (often prosodic) that speakers use (usually with a very low degree of awareness) to signal how (forms occurring in) utterances are to be appropriately interpreted. Notes on the role of metapragmatic (p.442) awareness in language use Jef Verschueren Pragmatics 10/4, 439-56, 2000 A
not everything that happens in linguistic behavior occupies the same place in consciousness. (p.443) Notes on the role of metapragmatic awareness in language use Jef Verschueren Pragmatics 10/4, 439-56, 2000 A
speakers’ awareness of pragmatic phenomena does not have to match the linguist’s metapragmatic descriptions. (p.443) Notes on the role of metapragmatic awareness in language use Jef Verschueren Pragmatics 10/4, 439-56, 2000 A
So, if I’ve understood correctly, speakers know what they’re doing when they use language, but they don’t necessarily know this at the level of conscious awareness? Got it in one, Egghead! And there’s a reason why too:
The linguistic ideology of the native speaker .. highlights awareness of the referential function of language while hindering awareness of the indexical function. (p.468) Pragmatic s in the late twentieth century: countering recent historiographic neglect Jon Pressman Pragmatics 4/4, 461-89, 1994 A
So we’re programmed to be aware of literal meaning (the referential function).. ..but not of how we signal our awareness (the indexical function)
But this doesn’t mean we don’t know what we’re doing – right? Absolutely, Egghead! Time for evidence, I think.
(1) Receptionist: So you haven’t had your letter PG: I haven’t had a letter (2) JH: Was Zain a good student PG: Exceptional – take that as you will Metalinguistic evidence
(1) Bob Monkhouse: Everybody laughed when I first said I wanted to be a comedian. Well they’re not laughing now are they (2) I’ll say that again Metapragmatic evidence
(1) Receptionist: So you haven’t had your letter PG: I haven’t had a letter (2) P: .hh Bonsai are cool yone J: Yes, they are cool yo = P: = Actually I’m a bit interested in bonsai too and J: Oh shall I give you some (Saigo, 2011) Metasequential evidence
G = Grace, a Chinese student living with a British host-family. L = Les, the husband of the host-mother M = Les’s mother M : but that’s just to let them know I’m still here (.) you see when I whinge <laughs> G : ah whinge what’s that mean (.) whinge M : when I umm er er L : complaining all the time
M : nice today (1.5) G : nya (1.0) ah [wha- ] M : [I went] for a ten mile walk G : ah (..) a ten mile walk M : <laughs> G : so the doctor told you you have to (.) on diet
M : um (1.0) and I didn’t have any bust very much you know G : <laughs> M : flat (0.5) G : me too [<laughs> ] M : [ and I worked] (2.0) one place G : ye[s] M : and they used to say (.) oh here she comes (.) two fried eggs [<laughs> ] G : [two flastic] M : that’s because I had no bust [<laughs> ] G : [oh (..) I have no too] M : <laughs> so you see I was slim then
M : nice today (1.5) G : nya (1.0) ah [wha- ] M : [I went] for a ten mile walk G : ah (..) a ten mile walk M : <laughs> G : so the doctor told you you have to (.) on diet (0.5) M : I’ve got to slim G : ah-h M : ‘ve got to lose some weight
M : um (1.0) and I didn’t have any bust very much you know G : <laughs> M : flat (0.5) G : me too [ <laughs > ] M : [ and I worked] (2.0) one place G : ye[s] M : and they used to say (.) oh here she comes (.) two fried eggs [ <laughs> ] G : [ two flastic ] M : that’s because I had no bust [< laughs> ] G : [ oh (..) I have no too] M : <laughs> so you see I was slim then
M : ha when I go [up there] <pointing upwards> L : [you’ll ] still be whingeing on M : <laughs> G : sorry L : she will still whinge M : <laughs> (3.0) M : but that’s just to let them know I’m still here (.) you see when I whinge <laughs> G : ah whinge what’s that mean (.) whinge M : when I umm er er L : complaining all the time
If G, L and M weren’t aware of what they were doing, they wouldn’t be able to hold this conversation
We shouldn’t think of language awareness only as conscious
Evidence of awareness takes the form of procedural skill as well as declarative knowledge
NNSs show the same control of the meta-functions of language as NSs
Teacher language awareness
As teachers, we need to develop awareness of the metapragmatic and metasequential nature of language and add this to our existing metalinguistic knowledge
This is an issue in initial teacher preparation
Our awareness will be relevant for the way we respond to language learner language
Deficit oriented teaching might be applied in situations where an unintended pragmatic effect occurs
Pragmatic and sequential procedural knowledge is unlikely to result from explicit focus-on-function teaching except in a small number of metasequential areas and in areas of formulaic pragmalinguistics
Language awareness and SLA
Because we are more likely to be consciously aware of pragmatic effect and the forms that bring it about in one-on-one and small group face-to-face encounters, applied linguists who argue for the role of output in SLA should also give prominence to the role of pragmatic phenomena in SLA
Language awareness and levels
The ‘levels’ approach to language study and linguistic description doesn’t sit well with the view of metapragmatics as a dimension (rather than as a set of discrete phenomena such as discourse markers, etc.)
The ’dimension’ view of language helps us to understand how all uses of language are ideological (which will please the critical language awareness lobby)
Evidence, awareness and consciousness At last, thanks to pragmatics, evidence of language awareness!
Thank you for inviting me to your Conference (And thank you for listening to these two bores) A Here’s a thought Brainbox. The word ‘awareness’ itself implies… I know what you’re going to say, Egghead – “the word ‘awareness’ itself implies that you have meta-knowledge!”