Review of Teaching and Researching: Language and Culture
|AUTHOR: Hall, Joan Kelly
TITLE: Teaching and Researching: Language and Culture
SERIES TITLE: Applied Linguistics in Action Series
Yumin Chen, School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun Yat-sen University, China
Jingfeng Zhang, School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun Yat-sen University,
This volume is the second edition of ‘Teaching and Researching Language and
Culture’. It introduces and elucidates language teaching approaches and research
methodologies from the sociocultural perspective. It provides readers and
researchers with research tools they need in practice-oriented research. The new
edition has been updated to include some new features, with special reference to
the explanation of the influences of electronic technologies and globalization
on the social context of teaching and researching.
This volume is organized into four sections. Section I, “Defining language and
culture”, contains three chapters, in which the author lays out some major
assumptions about the nature of language and culture from a sociocultural
perspective. The introductory Chapter 1, “A sociocultural perspective on
language and culture”, describes and traces the lineage of current perspectives
on language and culture. Hall outlines how the pragmatically motivated study of
social action advances our understanding of languages constructing sociocultural
worlds. Chapter 2, “Language and identity”, uses the concept of social identity
to demonstrate the mutual interaction between language use and identity. This
chapter discusses in detail the importance of contextualization cues within
Interactional Sociolinguistics (IS) in accomplishing communicative events, while
acknowledging the criticism on the notion of contextualization cues.
Additionally a growing focus on co-construction of identity is discussed based
on the rise of global migration, which is a challenge to the study on the
formation of hybrid social identities. Chapter 3, “Language and culture
learning”, reviews the jointly constructed process of transforming
socially-formed knowledge and skills into individual language learning
abilities. The influences of globalization and new digital technologies on
learning are also emphasized as difficult challenges for pedagogical research,
thus “Language Classrooms as Fundamental Sites of Learning” is replaced by
“Context of Learning” as the title of Section 3.3 in the new edition.
Section II, “Teaching language and culture”, examines current theoretical
directions of work on language, culture and learning that inform pedagogical
practices. Chapter 4, “The sociocultural worlds of learners”, points out that
linguistic anthropology, particularly research on language socialization
practices, connects learners’ sociocultural worlds to mainstream institutional
settings. The sociocultural world fundamentally shapes learners’ language and
cognitive abilities and cultural beliefs, rather than being a peripheral factor
(Bongartz and Schneider 2003). In Chapter 5, “Language and culture of the
classroom”, classrooms are characterized as significant sociocultural
communities for learners. The pattern of classroom interaction might limit
learners’ opportunities to engage in communicative activities. For the purpose
of redesigning curriculum and instruction, two pedagogical approaches, i.e.
Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Cooperative Learning Practices, are explained
as to how they link teaching with learners’ social contexts . Chapter 6,
“Language and culture as curricular content”, refines communicative competence
and intercultural communicative competence, answering the question “where are we
going?” inductively as to address the learning outcome. A number of pedagogical
approaches are introduced, and it also points out the importance of developing
in learners the cultural repertoire to engage into the mutually constructed
The purpose of Section III, “Researching language and culture”, is concerned
with current research on and approaches to the study of language and culture.
Chapter 7, “The research enterprise”, discusses the foundations of research from
the sociocultural perspective and with regard to methodological considerations.
Talkbank, a worldwide interdisciplinary repository of databases, is recommended
for its transcription standards and tools to process video data. How to balance
the relationship with participants and research ethics is also stressed. The
author provides a list of professional associations and government funding
agencies that develop sanctioned guidelines and advisory sources of research
ethics. Chapter 8, “Approaches to research on language and culture”, summarizes
eight common approaches currently used by applied linguists, including
ethnography of communication, interactional sociolinguistics, conversation
analysis, discourse analysis, systemic functional linguistics (SFL), critical
discourse analysis, linguistic ethnography (LE) and micro-genetic approach. Two
of them, SFL and LE, are new in this edition. Chapter 9, “Guidelines for doing
research”, presents a set of guidelines for planning, conducting and evaluating
research projects. The author reorganizes this chapter by dividing Section 9.1
of the first edition “introduction and research cycle” into two separate parts.
Sections 9.2 to 9.7 of the first edition have been combined as the “The research
cycle” as Section 9.1. Chapter 10, “Contexts of research”, provides a framework
for conceptualizing research contexts to give readers a sense of how current
undertakings in the field are conducted. Eight research projects are presented
to inspire readers to undertake further research on their own. A pie chart of
research contexts is also provided to help readers visually grasp the entire
Section IV, “Resources”, provides a rich array of useful resources, including a
list of key journals in the field, professional organizations of applied
linguistics, and easily accessible web-based resources, along with suggested
further readings and glossary of important concepts in the field, which are
valuable to readers in carrying out their own studies.
This volume fits the series in which it appears and plays an important role in
explaining the relationship between language and culture. It systematically lays
out some major underpinnings of contemporary thoughts on language and culture as
they bear on applied linguistics. Electronic technologies and increasingly
diverse and complex communities pose challenges to teaching and researching
language and culture inside and outside traditional classrooms. The author
illustrates these phenomena throughout the book. In particular, Chapter 4
contextualizes how these two factors challenge educational approaches. Chapter 5
deals with how electronically mediated sites shape learners in social contexts.
Chapter 6 points out that electronic technologies expand the scope of learners’
communicative activities and their resources to make meaning.
The author introduces some latest theoretical developments in language teaching
and research in relation to cultural context. Some of the technical terms like
“Project-based learning (PBL)” in Section 6.3.2 replaces “classroom-based social
research (CBSR)” used in the first edition. CBSR is restricted to face-to-face
contact, while PBL can also be used in online communication. Another addition is
a fifth dimension to the multiliteracies pedagogy (Kalantis & Cope, 2008).
Along with the existing four interrelated aspects (i.e. situated practice, overt
instruction, critical framing and transformed practice), genre-based pedagogy
(Christie & Martin, 2007) is considered a new dimension in multiliteracies
pedagogy. Such work assists the continued development of models and strategies
for implementing the analysis of multimodal discourses, and it also responds to
the challenges created by emerging electronic modes of communication and the
increasingly diverse populations of classrooms and sites of learning.
This volume is a tremendously valuable asset to the series ‘Applied Linguistics
in Action’. It is presented in an accessible and easy-to-follow way with
theoretical reviews, sample analyses and suggested further readings. Meanwhile
it also suggests some potential research projects. It will be welcomed by
established researchers as well as students of linguistics as one of the
important handbooks on applied linguistics.
Bongartz, C. and Schneider, M. 2003. ‘Linguistic development in social contexts:
A study of two brothers learning German’, Modern language Journal, 87:13-37.
Christie, F. and Martin, J.R. 2007. Language, Knowledge and Pedagogy: Functional
Linguistic and Sociological Perspective, London: Continuum.
Kalantis, M. & Cope, B. 2008. Language education and multiliteracies,
Encyclopedia of Language and Education, Volume 1: Language Policy and Political
Issues in Education (2nd edn, pp.195-211), New York: Springer.
McDermott, R. and McDermott, M. 2009. ‘Quantitative and Qualitative’, Mind,
Culture and Activity, 16: 203-208.
ABOUT THE REVIEWERS
| ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Yumin Chen is a lecturer in the School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun
Yat-sen University. Her research interests include discourse analysis, and
Jingfeng Zhang is a post-graduate student in the School of Chinese as a
Second Language, Sun Yat-sen University. Her research interests include
applied linguistics, learning strategies for second languages and teaching
and researching language and culture.