Critical applied linguistics


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This presentation has been prepared to help 'the readers concerned' push the boundaries of complexities they face while differentiating between what 'critical' stands for and how it functions in the very current discipline.

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Critical applied linguistics

  1. 1. Hülya Fidan
  2. 2.  Criticality is a process of engaging with power and social inequality both within and outside applied linguistics. Nonetheless, critical applied linguistics (CAL) is not opposed to power but to its effects. (Makoni, 2013)  CAL is skeptical of concepts such as the native speaker, language, identity, and agency. (Makoni, 2013)
  3. 3.  Davies (1999) provides the following definition: “a judgmental approach by some applied linguists to „normal‟ applied linguistics on the grounds that it is not concerned with the transformation of society” (p. 145).  Indeed, elsewhere in his book, Davies (1999) is prepared to accord a broader role to critical applied linguistics as both a mode of critique, and, in critical pedagogy, as a mode of practice.
  4. 4.  By critical applied linguistics, I refer to that view of language teaching, which directly confronts and contests the power issues that abound in language education. (Martinez, The University of Arizona)  Pennycook (2010) sees critical applied linguistics as a constantly shifting and dynamic approach to questions of language in multiple contexts, rather than a method, a set of techniques, or a fixed body of knowledge.
  5. 5.  Critical applied linguistics is not about developing a set of skills that will make the doing of applied linguistics more rigorous, more objective, but about making applied linguistics more politically accountable. (Pennycook, 2010)
  6. 6.  Critical Thinking (Liberalism)  Social Relevance (Liberal-Pluralism)  Emancipatory modernism (Neo-Marxism)  Problematizing practice (Feminism, postcolonialism, queer theory, etc.)
  7. 7.  Critical thinking is used to describe a way of bringing more rigorous analysis to problem solving or textual understanding, a way of developing more “critical distance” as it is sometimes called. (Pennycook, 2010)  Skilled critical questioning (Brookfield, 1987)
  8. 8.  CAL is concerned not merely with relating language contexts to social contexts, but rather does so from a point of view that views social relations as problematic. (Pennycook, 2010)  A central element of critical applied linguistics, therefore, is a way of exploring language in social contexts that goes beyond mere correlations between language and society, and instead raises more critical questions to do with access, power, disparity, desire, difference, and resistance.
  9. 9.  Critical work in this sense, has to engage with questions of inequality, injustice, rights, wrongs. (Pennycook, 2010)  Critical here means taking social inequality and social transformation as central to one‟s work. (Pennycook, 2010) Key words: Materialism, Enlightenment, Marxism, Neo-Marxism
  10. 10.  This is a critical practice because “it is unwilling to accept the taken-for-granted components of our reality and the „official‟ accounts of how they came to be the way they are”. (Dean, 1994)  Thus, a crucial component of critical work is always turning a skeptical eye toward assumptions, ideas that have become “naturalized,” notions that are no longer questioned. (Dean,1994)  Dean (1994) describes such practice as “the restive problematization of the given” (p. 4).
  11. 11.  Applied Linguistics  Praxis  Being critical  Micro and Macro Relations  Critical Social Inquiry  Critical Theory  Problematizing givens  Self-Reflexivity  Preferred Futures  CAL as Heterosis
  12. 12.  Applied linguistics is an area of work that deals with language use in professional setting, translation, speech pathology, literacy, and language education; and it is not merely the application of linguistic knowledge to such settings but is a semi-autonomous and interdisciplinary domain of work that draws on but is not dependent on areas such as sociology, education, anthropology, cultural studies, and psychology. (Quang, 2007)  Critical applied linguistics adds many new domains to this. (Quang, 2007)
  13. 13.  A distinction between theory and practice  We prefer to avoid the theory-into-practice direction and instead see these as more comlexly intermingled. (Quang, 2007)
  14. 14.  Critical Thinking  Social Relevance  Emancipatory modernism  Problematizing practice
  15. 15.  One of the key challenges for critical applied linguistics is to find ways of mapping micro and macro relations, ways of understanding a relation between concepts of society, ideology, global capitalism, colonialism, education, gender, racism, sexuality, class and classroom utterances, translations, conversions, genres, second language acquisition, media texts. (Quang,2007)  A central issue always concerns how the classroom, text, or conversation is related to broader social cultural and political relations. (Quang, 2007)
  16. 16.  Critical applied linguistics is concerned not merely with relating language contexts to social contexts but rather does so from a point of view that views social relations as problematic. (Quang, 2007)
  17. 17.  Critical work in this sense has to engage with questions of inequality, injustice, rights, and wrongs. (Quang, 2007)  “critical” here means taking social inequality and social transformation as central to one‟s work. (Quang 2007)  Marc Poster (1989:3) suggests that “critical theory springs from an assumption that we live amid a world of pain, that much can be done to alleviate that pain, and that theory has a crucial role to play in that process”.
  18. 18.  Dean (1994) suggests this is a critical practice because” it is unwilling to accept the taken-for- granted components of our reality and the “official” accounts of how they came to be the way they are”.  Thus, a crucial component of critical work is always turning a skeptical eye toward assumptions, ideas that have become “naturalized”, notions that are no longer questioned. (Quang, 2007)  Dean (1994:4) describes such pratice as “the restive problematization of the given”.  “Constant questioning of all categories.” (Quang, 2007))
  19. 19.  If critical applied linguistics needs to retain a constant skepticism, a constant questioning of the givens of applied linguistics, this problematizing stance must also be turned on itself. (Quang, 2007)  The notion of “critical” also needs to imply an awareness “of the limits of knowing”. (Quang, 2007)  CAL is concerned with raising a host of new and difficult questions about knowledge, politics, and ethics. (Quang, 2007)
  20. 20.  Critical applied linguistics also needs to operate with some sort of vision of what is preferable. (Quang, 2007)  Perhaps the notion of preferred futures offers us a slightly more restrained and plural view of where we might want to head. (Quang, 2007)  Ethics has to become a key building block for CAL. (Quang, 2007)
  21. 21.  The notion of heterosis hereby understood as the creative expansion of possibilities resulting from hybridity. (Quang,2007)  it opens up a whole new array of questions and concerns, issues such as identity, sexuality, or the reproduction of Otherness that have hitherto not been considered as concerns related to applied linguistics. (Quang, 2007)  The notion of heterosis helps deal with a final concern, the question of normativity. (Quang, 2007) – constant skeptism- normative assumptions of AL.
  22. 22.  Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Literacy  Critical Approaches to Translation  Language Teaching  Language Testing  Language Planning and Language Rights  Language, Literacy and Workplace Settings
  23. 23.  CDA and critical literacy are sometimes also combined under the rubric of critical language awareness, since the aim of this work is to “empower learners by providing them with a critical analytical framework to help them reflect on their own language experiences and practices and on the language practices of others in the institutions of which they are a part and in the wider society within which they live” (Clark & Ivanic, 1997, p. 217).
  24. 24.  The politics of translation, the ways in which translating and interpreting are related to concerns such as class, gender, difference, ideology, and social context. (Pennycook, 2010)
  25. 25.  The domain or area of interest – to what extent do particular domains define a critical approach?  A self-reflexive stance on critical theory – to what extent does the work constantly question common assumptions, including its own?  And transformative pedagogy – how does the particular approach to education hope to change things?
  26. 26.  Shohamy (2001) has developed a notion of critical language testing (CLT) which “implies the need to develop critical strategies to examine the uses and consequences of tests, to monitor their power, minimize their detrimental force, reveal the misuses, and empower the test takers” (p. 131).  CLT starts with the assumption that “the act of language testing is not neutral.” (Shohamy, 2001)
  27. 27.  Norton Peirce and Stein (1995) also point to concerns about the politics of testing when they suggest that “if test makers are drawn from a particular class, a particular race, and a particular gender, then test takers who share these characteristics will be at an advantage relative to other test takers” (p. 62).
  28. 28.  Tollefson (1991) claims that language policy has been uncritically developed and implemented.  According to Luke, McHoul, and Mey (1990), while maintaining a “veneer of scientific objectivity” language planning has “tended to avoid directly addressing larger social and political matters within which language change, use and development, and indeed language planning itself are embedded”  Ricento (2000) has similarly taken much of the earlier work in language policy and planning to account for its apolitical naivety.
  29. 29.  Critical applied linguistic approaches to contexts of workplace communication focus far more on questions of access, power, disparity, and difference. (Pennycook, 2010)  An important aspect of this work has been to draw connections between workplace uses of language and relations of power at the institutional and broader social levels. (Pennycook, 2010)
  31. 31.  Brookfield, S. (1987) Developing critical thinkers. Milton Keyness: Open University Press  Clark, R. & Ivanic, R. (1997) The politics of writing. London: Routledge  Davies, A. (1999) An introduction to applied linguistics: from theory to practice. Edinburgh University Press.  Dean, M. (1994) Critical and effective histories: Foucault‟s methods and historical sociology. London: Routledge.  Luke, A., McHoul, A., & Mey, J. L. (1990) On the limits of language planning: class, state, power. In R. B. Baldauf, Jr. & A. Luke (eds.), Language planning and education in Australia and the South Pacific (pp.25-44).
  32. 32.  Makoni, S. (2013) Critical applied linguistics. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Blackwell.  Martinez, G. A. Classroom based dialect awareness in heritage language instruction: A Critical Applied Linguistics Approach. The University of Arizona.  Norton Pierce, B. &Stein. P. (1995) Why the „Monkeys passage‟ bombed: tests, genres, and teaching. Harvard Educational Review, 65(1), 50-65  Pennycook, A. (1999) Introduction: Critical approaches to TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 329- 48  Pennycook, A. (2010) Language a a local practice. London: Routledge.
  33. 33.  Quang, V. D. (2007) Critical applied linguistics: Concerns and Domains. Colledge of Foreign Languages.  Ricento, T. (2000) Historical and theoretical perspectives in language policy and planning. Journal of sociolinguistics, 4(2), 196-213  Shohamy, E. (2001) The power of tests: a critical perspective on the uses of language language tests. London: Longman  Tollefson, J. (1991) Planning languages, planning inequality: language policy in the community. London: Longman.