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From Applying Theory to Theorising Practice


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Talk delivered at the 'Empowering Language Teaching and Learning' professional development day, organised by the Panhellenic Association of State School Teachers of English. Athens: October 2011.

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From Applying Theory to Theorising Practice

  1. 1. From Applying Theory to Theorising Practice Achilleas Kostoulas Epirus Institute of Technology
  2. 2. Presentation Outline Applying Theory What it is Problems Theorising practice Inverting Applied Science A conceptual framework Using the conceptual framework What? How? Why?
  3. 3. AppliedScience Linguistics Pedagogy Literature Practice
  4. 4. What is wrong with Applied Science?• Professional development and practice are physically and temporally disconnected.• Scholarship is perceived as irrelevant to practice.• Teachers are relegated to lower status compared to ‘expert’ policy-makers.
  5. 5. Theorising theoryPractice
  6. 6. In brief… Applying Theorising Theory practice Theory theory General Personal Abstract Situated Top-down Bottom-up
  7. 7. Communicative WHY? Transmissive Criticalcf. Kostoulas, A. 2011. From local pedagogy and global influences to eclectic practice. Paperpresented at the British Association of Applied Linguistics Language Learning and Teaching SIGconference, hosted by Aston University. Birmingham: July 2011
  8. 8. ContentWhat should be taught in an ELT class? “Another preposterous disadvantage of the book is the heroes’ pronunciation in most texts” “The listening tasks are another bane of the book. The heroes’ accent is extremely bad…” “…even more unacceptable pronunciation of the texts” [sic]
  9. 9. ContentBuilding a theory Is a native-like accent a requisite for communicative competence? Do these books help Is it useful to expose learners students to develop a to emerging varieties (e.g. native-like accent? ‘World Englishes’, ELF?)
  10. 10. MediaHow can I use the tools at my disposal? “Learners cannot survey the grammar that they are taught because there’s no substitution table aside the texts.” “Most passages are meaningless, uninspired, stale and therefore create no joy to our students.” “the passages are hard to understand and technical, and there is no song, no game, nothing at all to ‘break’ the insufferable boredom they generate”
  11. 11. MediaBuilding a theory How can these media be used to develop communicative competence? Do these media conform Who makes the choice of to my expectations, as a media to be used? How is language teaching expert? this choice made?
  12. 12. EndsWhy are students made to learn English? “Whoever dreamt up the state certificate using these books, is seriously deluded!”
  13. 13. EndsBuilding a theory Is communicative competence a useful goal? Does my teaching promote this? Is examination Is intercultural competence competence a useful goal? a useful goal? In what ways How does my teaching can my teaching promote promote this? this?
  14. 14. We build theory by questioning practice… Is it useful to teach ‘World Is examination competence a useful goal? How Englishes’ and ELF? does my teaching promote this? Is a native-like accent important? Does my coursebook conform to my expectations, as an language teaching expert? Who decides what should be taught? How is this choice made? Is communicative competence a useful goal? Does my teaching promote this? Do these books help students to develop aHow can these media be used to native-like accent?develop communicative competence? Is intercultural competence a useful goal? In what ways can my teaching promote this?
  15. 15. Questioning all aspects of practiceWho benefits from teaching English the way we do? Are there aspects of our practice that serve our interests more than those of our learners? What are the implications of using the same coursebook across the country? Why was this coursebook designed in the way it was?
  16. 16. Thank you for your attention!
  17. 17. Questions?