Context All the Way Down
Ecology of Language Learning
Charles Wotton
Contents

Why Ecology?

Emergence

Affordance

Multiple Scales
Why Ecology?
It may make as much
sense to separate
language from other
semiotic processes as
it does to separate the
swayi...
A. Well!
B. ((Silence))
(Van Lier, 2004, p. 111)
Why Ecology?
A. Well!
B. ((Silence))
(Van Lier, 2004, p. 111)
Why Ecology?
Emergence
Emergence presupposes a
non-reductive change, from
a lower-level phenomenon
to a higher-level
phenomenon, from
i...
Emergence
Emergence happens
when relatively simple
organisms or elements
reorganize themselves
into more complex,
more int...
Emergence
Rather than developing in the linear manner syllabi
and curricula want us to believe, learning develops in
nonli...
Affordances
What learners are exposed
to is not “input”, but
“affordances,” from which
they select those that best
fit the...
Action
Perception
Interpretation
SELF
ENVIRONMENT
AFFORDANCES
Affordances
Multiple Scales
Linguistic phenomena
are...indissociable from
an individual's memory
of past phenomena and
his/her anticip...
Multiple Scales
...patterns of activities and
events which are self-similar
at different scales...for
example the way spea...
Classroom
Playground
Family
school neighbour-
hood
government
Funding
sources
academia
PAST FUTURE
Multiple Scales
The premise that most clearly characterizes an
ecological approach to language acquisition is
that language behaviour alwa...
Questions
Is ecology really the right metaphor?...language is not a natural
phenomenon after all; it is socially construct...
Action-based Learning
The students are not speaking face to face bridging some sort of
information gap, but they're working side by side, with a...
Scaffolding
continuity (task repetition, connections, variation)
contextual support (safe, supportive environment)
intersu...
Zone of Proximal Development
Interaction
with less
capable peers
REGULATION
SELF
Scaffolding: Modeling…Resourcefulness, Se...
Emergence presupposes a non-
reductive change, from a lower-level
phenomenon to a higher-level
phenomenon, from individual...
Perception / Affordance
An affordance refers to the fit between
an animal’s capabilities and the
environmental supports and
opportunities (both go...
Why Ecology?
Language: it's context all
the way down (Van
Lier, 2004, p. 20)
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  • An example to consider in detail is an ant colony. The queen does not give direct orders and does not tell the ants what to do. Instead, each ant reacts to stimuli in the form of chemical scent from larvae, other ants, intruders, food and build up of waste, and leaves behind a chemical trail, which, in turn, provides a stimulus to other ants. Here each ant is an autonomous unit that reacts depending only on its local environment and the genetically encoded rules for its variety of ant. Despite the lack of centralized decision making, ant colonies exhibit complex behavior and have even been able to demonstrate the ability to solve geometric problems. For example, colonies routinely find the maximum distance from all colony entrances to dispose of dead bodies.
  • Ecology presentation 2pp

    1. 1. Context All the Way Down Ecology of Language Learning Charles Wotton
    2. 2. Contents  Why Ecology?  Emergence  Affordance  Multiple Scales
    3. 3. Why Ecology? It may make as much sense to separate language from other semiotic processes as it does to separate the swaying of the tree branch from the wind that moves it. (Van Lier, 2002, p. 149)
    4. 4. A. Well! B. ((Silence)) (Van Lier, 2004, p. 111) Why Ecology?
    5. 5. A. Well! B. ((Silence)) (Van Lier, 2004, p. 111) Why Ecology?
    6. 6. Emergence Emergence presupposes a non-reductive change, from a lower-level phenomenon to a higher-level phenomenon, from individual ants to ant colony, from a bunch of houses to an organized city, from perception to thought, from pointing to language. (Van Lier, 2004, p. 82)
    7. 7. Emergence Emergence happens when relatively simple organisms or elements reorganize themselves into more complex, more intelligent systems (van Lier, 2004, p. 80)
    8. 8. Emergence Rather than developing in the linear manner syllabi and curricula want us to believe, learning develops in nonlinear, discontinuous ways… If we consider language learning and teaching as a complex system with emergent properties, we can no longer look for cause and effect in the simplistic linear fashion proposed by a short term proficiency tests. (Kramsch, 2008, p. 392)
    9. 9. Affordances What learners are exposed to is not “input”, but “affordances,” from which they select those that best fit their experience and the activity in which they are engaged. (Kramsch, 2002 p. 7)
    10. 10. Action Perception Interpretation SELF ENVIRONMENT AFFORDANCES Affordances
    11. 11. Multiple Scales Linguistic phenomena are...indissociable from an individual's memory of past phenomena and his/her anticipation of future ones (Kramsch, 2002, p. 19)
    12. 12. Multiple Scales ...patterns of activities and events which are self-similar at different scales...for example the way speakers use language in one context may be fractal with the way they are made to relate to others in the larger context of a global economy (Kramsch, 2008, pp. 392-3)
    13. 13. Classroom Playground Family school neighbour- hood government Funding sources academia PAST FUTURE Multiple Scales
    14. 14. The premise that most clearly characterizes an ecological approach to language acquisition is that language behaviour always involves more than can be captured in any single frame or script. An ecological approach aims to avoid unjustifiable appeals to normativity–in both research designs and the interpretation of data. All settings, we suggest, will on closer scrutiny turn out to be discoursally and socioculturally complex. (Leather & van Dam, 2003, p. 13)
    15. 15. Questions Is ecology really the right metaphor?...language is not a natural phenomenon after all; it is socially constructed and does not evolve like living things, not to mention the fact that natural ecologies involve an awful lot of eating and being eaten. Some of these ideas would be hard enough to incorporate into a Canadian classroom. Do you think they would be useful at all in other cultural contexts? Do we need an ecological approach to language learning or do existing approaches cover enough of the same ground?
    16. 16. Action-based Learning
    17. 17. The students are not speaking face to face bridging some sort of information gap, but they're working side by side, with a joint focus of activity. (Van Lier, 2004, p. 147) Learning an L2 involves a struggle to forge a new identity that is true to the self (Van Lier, 2007, p. 47) teaching grammar explicitly...by raising the learners awareness of what they're trying to say and how they're saying it and coming up with more efficacious ways of saying that thing (Van Lier 2004, p. 90) The teacher provides assistance, but only just enough and just in time...taking the learner's developing skills and interests as the true driving force of the curriculem (Ibid, p. 224f)
    18. 18. Scaffolding continuity (task repetition, connections, variation) contextual support (safe, supportive environment) intersubjectivity (mutual engagement, encouragement) contingency (task procedures, teacher’s actions depend on actions of learners) handover/takeover (increasing role for learner, attending to emergent skills and knowledge) flow (skills and challenges are in balance, participants are in ‘tune’ with each other) (Van Lier, 2007, p. 60
    19. 19. Zone of Proximal Development Interaction with less capable peers REGULATION SELF Scaffolding: Modeling…Resourcefulness, Self-access “If one member of a dyad undergoes developmental change, the other is also likely to do so” (Bronfenbrenner 1979:65) (Van Lier, 2004, p. 158) “Docendo discimus” (We learn by teaching) Inner Resources: knowledge, experience, memory investment Assistance from more capable peers or adults Interaction with equal peers
    20. 20. Emergence presupposes a non- reductive change, from a lower-level phenomenon to a higher-level phenomenon, from individual ants to ant colony, from a bunch of houses to an organized city, from perception to thought, from pointing to language. (Van Lier, 2004, p. 82)
    21. 21. Perception / Affordance
    22. 22. An affordance refers to the fit between an animal’s capabilities and the environmental supports and opportunities (both good and bad) that make possible a given activity (Gibson & Pick, 2000, p. 15)
    23. 23. Why Ecology? Language: it's context all the way down (Van Lier, 2004, p. 20)

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