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An Introduction to Applied Linguistics

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  • 1. Session 1 Presented by: Dr. Mohammad Ghazanfari English Language Department Fersdowsi University of Mashhad Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 2. Introduction: Nature and scope of applied linguistics The term applied linguistics came into existence in the 1940s through the efforts of teachers who wished to ally themselves with “scientific” linguists and to dissociate themselves from teachers of literature. By the mid-1950s, the term was given credence by the opening of the School of Applied Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh and by the creation of the Center for Applied Linguistics in the United States. Finally, in the 1970s, the field was given scope (chance ‫ )مجال، اقبال‬and substance (value, importance) by the publication of Introducing Applied Linguistics by Spit Corder (1973). Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 3. Kaplan (2002) has stated that “applied linguistics is a difficult notion to define” (p. vii). Coffin, Lillis and O’Halloran (2010, p. 1), similarly, emphasize that “there has been a good deal of debate about the scope and nature of applied linguistics. Recently, however, a certain degree of consensus seems to have been achieved.” They quote Brumfit (1995) that applied linguistics is concerned with “the theoretical and empirical investigation of realworld problems in which language is a central issue” (p. 27). Nevertheless, in Kaplan’s words, applied linguists have repeatedly argued that their field is not merely “linguistics applied” but rather is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 4. 1. Overview Interest in language and language teaching has a long history, and we can trace this back at least as far as the ancient Greeks, where both "Plato and Aristotle contributed to the design of a curriculum beginning with good writing (grammar), then moving on to effective discourse (rhetoric) and culminating in the development of dialectic to promote a philosophical approach to life" (Howatt, 1984, p. 618, cited in Schmitt, 2002, p. 3). Kaplan (2002) traces the origins of the field of applied linguistics back to about 1948, after the publication of the first issue of the journal Language Learning: A Journal of Applied Linguistics, although he does not reject other possible starting points. Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 5. 2. What is applied linguistics? David Crystal (1992) defines applied linguistics as The use of linguistic theories, methods, and findings in elucidating and solving problems to do with language which have arisen in other areas of experience. The domain of applied linguistics is extremely wide, and includes foreign language learning and teaching, language disorders, translation and interpreting, lexicography, style, forensic speech analysis, and the teaching of reading. Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 6. Guy Cook (2003) has defined the term applied linguistics as "the academic discipline concerned with the relation of knowledge about language to decision making in the real world" (p. 5). "On the basis of this definition," Cook goes on, "then, we can say that applied linguistics sets out to investigate problems in the world in which language is implicated—both educational and social problems" (ibid.). Kaplan (2002, p. 10) also defines applied linguistics in similar terms, "a practice-driven discipline that addresses language-based problems in real world contexts." Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 7.   He further tries to reject the criticisms concerning the seemingly wide scope of applied linguistics and lack of a certain framework of investigation: Critics note that applied linguistics is too broad and too fragmented, that it demands expert knowledge in too many fields, and it does not have a set of unifying research paradigms. However, it is possible to interpret applied linguistics as a discipline much in the way that many other disciplines are defined. It has a core and a periphery, and the periphery blurs into other disciplines. . . . This picture may not be very different from those of several other relatively new disciplines in academic institutions. (pp. 10-11) Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 8. 3. On relevance of applied linguistics to language teaching S. Pit Corder (1973) comments on the relationship between applied linguistics and language teaching as follows: There will certainly be some readers who, while not disputing the relevance of linguistic studies to language teaching, will nevertheless criticize my implied restriction of the term 'applied linguistics' to this field of activity [i.e., language teaching], on the grounds that there are practical tasks other than language teaching to which a knowledge of linguistics is relevant. I do not disagree with them in principle, but claim nevertheless that, because of the greater public interest in language teaching and the considerable official support there has been in recent years for research and teaching in the application of linguistics to language teaching, this term [i.e., applied linguistics] has effectively come to be restricted in this way in common usage. Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 9. I am enough of a purist to believe that 'applied linguistics' presupposes 'linguistics'; that one cannot apply what one does not possess. (pp. 7-8)  Elsewhere Corder comments: Linguistics provides a growing body of scientific knowledge about language which can guide the activity of the language teacher. How this knowledge can be turned to good effect is the issue with which applied linguistics is concerned. (p. 10) Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 10. 4. Applied linguistics and language teaching Corder maintains that his book is about the contribution that the discoveries and methods of those who study language scientifically—that is, the linguist, the psycholinguist and the sociolinguist (to mention only the most important groups)— can make to the solution of some of the problems which arise in the course of planning, organizing and carrying out a language-teaching programme. It is a book about applied linguistics. (p. 10) Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 11. 5. The problem-based nature of applied linguistics Corder maintains that: In a broader sense, the applications of a science have to do with the use that is made of scientific knowledge to plan and draw up designs for some practical, everyday activity, whether it be building bridges, making electric toasters, brewing beer or mending broken bones. Language teaching is such an everyday, practical activity or series of procedures. The process of planning and designing can be seen as the making of a series of logically interrelated and dependent decisions or choices. Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 12. We can quite properly refer to these decisions as answers to specific questions, in which case the process of planning and designing can be broken down into a series of questions and answers, or, if we wish to put it another way, a series of problems and solutions. It is for this reason that applied linguistics has been called a problem-based activity. The problems are solved or the questions are answered according to the principles or knowledge derived from the scientific study of the structure of language, how it is learned and its role in society. (pp. 137-8) Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 13. Similarly, Kaplan (2002, p. 9) states that "the focus of applied linguistics is on trying to resolve language-based problems that people encounter in the real world, whether they be learners, teachers, supervisors, academics, lawyers, service providers, . . . test takers, policy developers, dictionary makers, or translators." Kaplan (ibid.) then provides a detailed list of major language-based problems that applied linguists typically address, a shortened form of which follows: Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 14. 6. problems that applied linguists typically address • Language learning problems • Language teaching problems • Literacy problems • Language contact problems • Language inequality problems • Language policy and planning problems Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari • Language assessment problems • Language use problems • Language and technology problems • Translation and interpretation problems • Language pathology problems Applied linguistics
  • 15. "The key point, however, is to recognize that it is the language-based problems in the world that drive applied linguistics", Kaplan goes on. "These problems also lead applied linguists to use knowledge from other fields, apart from linguistics, and thereby impose the interdisciplinarity that is a defining aspect of the discipline" (p. 10). Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics
  • 16. Elsewhere, Kaplan reminds us that although applied linguistics recognizes linguistics as a core knowledge base, it takes advantage of other disciplinary knowledge besides linguistics to address language-based problems. He mentions psychology, education, anthropology, political science, sociology, measurement, computer programming, literature, and economics as some disciplines in which applied linguists are commonly well trained and draw upon. Dr.Mohhamad Ghazanfari Applied linguistics