Most people modify their ways of speaking, writing, texting, and e-mailing, and so on, according to the people with whom they are communicating. This fascinating book asks why we 'accommodate' to others in this way, and explores the various social consequences arising from it.
Review of The Routledge Applied Linguistics Reader
EDITOR: Wei, Li TITLE: The Routledge Applied Linguistics Reader PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis) YEAR: 2011
Tyler A. Barrett, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary
The Routledge Applied Linguistics Reader is a compilation of twenty-six papers written by leading scholars in the field of Applied Linguistics. Some of the papers are recent while others were written as early as the 1990s. (In what follows, dates after authors’ names represent the original date the paper was published.) The purpose of this book is two-fold, since it is intended to be a comprehensive overview of the field of Applied Linguistics useful for any scholar interested in the field, while also being an introductory textbook for students. As a result, there are notes for students and instructors written by editor Li Wei at the end of each part. The book is divided into four parts:
- Reconceptualizing the native speaker and the language learner - Reconceptualizing language in language learning and practice - Critical issues in applied linguistics - Applied linguistics in a changing world
Part I “Reconceptualizing the Native Speaker and the Language Learner” addresses the traditional construct of the NS (native speaker) in the context of language teaching and language learning. To understand the complexities of the construct of the NS, Davies (2004; pp. 18-32), in his paper titled “The Native Speaker in Applied Linguistics,” considers the roles of the traditional foreigner, the revisionist foreigner, the other native, and globalized international language. Ultimately, Davies suggests that the construct of the native speaker is based upon the relationship between the individual speaker and the given social group in addition to community norms.
Community norms are reflected in the classroom and influence TESOL approaches and practices as a result of language learner identity complexities, as discussed by Harris, Leung, and Rampton in Chapter 2, “The Idealized Native Speaker, Reified Ethnicities and Classroom Realities” (1997; pp. 33-45). The impact of this paper within the field of Applied Linguistics is apparent when considering that although it was written in 1997 it is still included as part of the Applied Linguistics canon. Particular to the 1990s is the recognition of inequality (see Tollefson 1991 and elsewhere), which is why this paper emphasizes the importance of recognizing social inequalities concerning ethnic and linguistic groups in terms of individuals and linguistic expertise, affiliation, and inheritance.
One of the key issues with recognizing social inequalities in terms of language and an individual is ownership. To understand concepts of linguistic ownership Higgins (2003) (pp. 46-68) in “‘Ownership’ of English in the Outer Circle: an Alternative to the NS-NNS Dichotomy” (Chapter 3), and Llurda (2004) (pp. 69-76) in “Non-Native Speaker Teachers and English as an International Language” (Chapter 4), examine issues concerning the NS and NNS (non-native speaker). Higgins analyses conversational data using conversation analytic methods while Llurda discusses language in the classroom particular to NNS teachers and the topic of English as an international language.
Vivian Cook (2009) (Chapter 5, pp. 77-89) closes Part 1 with “The Nature of the L2 User” in which she discusses complexities concerning multi-competent L2 users having varied language systems that are static, developing, or reducing. Overall, the focus of the paper (and perhaps this section) is the assertion that traditional SLA research should continue to be reevaluated and reconsidered on the basis that individuals and communities produce complex interconnected and overlapping L2 languages too complex to be divided into NS-NNS categorizations.
Part II, “Reconceptualizing Language in Language Learning and Practice,” discusses language in the context of teaching, learning, and in social contexts. The first paper of the section (Chapter 6), “Appropriating English, Expanding Identities, and Re-visioning the Field: From TESOL to Teaching English for Globalized Communication (TEGCOM),” is an autobiographical analysis from four researchers: Akamatsu, Lin, Riazi, and Wang (2002; pp. 96-112) who describe their TESOL experiences in terms of recognizing the discursive and institutional process of Othering and its effects upon NS-NNS (non-native speaker) students. Interestingly, the result of their analysis is a proposition suggesting a shift from traditional TESOL approaches to teaching English for “glocalized” (a combination of global and local) communication, while asking the question, “can one use the ‘master’s tools’ to deconstruct the ‘master’s house’?” (p. 96).
Such a question is a result of recognizing issues with language in terms of ownership, localization, and authenticity, which is central to chapter 7: “Language, Localization, and the Real: Hip-hop and the Global Spread of Authenticity.” In this chapter, Pennycook (2007; pp. 113-124) discusses hip-hop as an English language commodity and its presence as a global medium for self expression through localized reproduction. In particular, it is the penetration of English as a lingua franca within non-English cultures that is of primary importance.
Barbara Seidlhofer (2001; pp.125-144) in chapter 8 questions the traditional development of English as a lingua franca (ELF) in her paper, “Closing a Conceptual Gap: The Case for a Description of English as a Lingua Franca.” As a result of finding deviations when comparing NNS empirical data with traditional idiomatic ENL (English as a Native Language) code switching tendencies (among other things), she proposes ELF alternatives to NS-driven corpus-based standards that have qualified NS English in TEFL contexts. The issue is ownership since NNSs who acquire ELF tend to develop unique language patterns as a result of global communication circles.
Suresh Canagarajah (2007; pp.145-164) in chapter 9 continues describing this view of ELF speakers as being members of a global community in his paper, “Lingua Franca English, Multilingual Communities, and Language Acquisition”. Canagarajah suggests that within these ELF communities where English is a lingua franca, it is actually a hybrid based upon negotiation as a result of NNSs monitoring one another throughout the course of communication. Also, as a result of a globalizing world -- understanding that SLA standards have remained relatively fixed in historical traditions viewing language acquisition in terms of simple and convenient models (see Haugen 1972) -- it is high time SLA paradigms be reconsidered and reconstructed to suit the complex transnational relationships and multilingual communication of NNSs.
A particular aspect of SLA is academic writing. Academic writing can be a challenging for non-native speakers since oftentimes learning SLA English writing introduces different culturally constructed views of self. Ken Hyland (2002; pp. 165-184) in “Authority and Invisibility: Authorial Identity in Academic Writing” (Chapter 10), discusses writer identity using empirical data from a corpus collection of writing by L2 undergraduates at a Hong Kong university. In particular, the study examines the use of rhetorical devices in the form of authorial pronouns such as ‘I’, we’, ‘me’, and ‘us’ which work to promote a sense of self. Interestingly, the study showed reluctance on the students’ behalf to identify their role in the research papers which came perhaps as a result of cultural differences and an inability to identify with the pragmatic NS English language based research tendencies. Overall, it was clear that the role of teachers was influential in students’ usage of authoritative rhetorical devices of self-mention. Using corpus linguistics approaches was useful for Hyland as a means to see student writing tendencies.
In a sort of climactic corpus focused shift, Biber, Conrad, and Reppen’s (1994; pp. 185-201) Chapter 11 entitled “Corpus-based Approaches to Issues in Applied Linguistics,” offers a comprehensive -- albeit compact -- view of corpus research methodology. Topping off the corpus research sub-section of Part II, Carter and McCarthy (2004; pp. 202-224), using the 5 million word CANCODE corpus of everyday language, in their paper “Talking, creating: Interactional Language, Creativity and Context,” discuss the implications of creatively used language in social contexts.
Part III, entitled “Critical issues in applied linguistics,” focuses on the social science relation to applied linguistics with emphasis upon identity in language and language practices.
Bonny Norton Pierce (1995; pp. 232-247) in, “Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning,” discusses the importance of developing a comprehensive theory that connects the language learner with the context in which the language is being learned. Since it is through language that individuals participate while negotiating a sense of self, complicated by the fact that second language learners are often individuals of complex social identity, there is much work to be done concerning power relations between second language learners and target language speakers. Ultimately, to understand the dichotomy between the language learner and the target language speaker, Pierce examines contexts of immigrant language learners and Anglophone Canadians in North America.
David Block (2006; pp. 248-261) is also concerned with identity in his paper (Chapter 14) “Identity in Applied linguistics,” in which he discusses problematic issues concerning normalized post structural epistemological approaches to identity in the context of applied linguistics.
Similarly, Ryuko Kubota (2003; pp. 262-274) is also concerned with poststructuralist and constructivist approaches concerning gender, class, and race in her paper “New Approaches to Gender, Class, and Race in Second Language.” Unlike Block (perhaps in part because her paper pre-dates Block’s by three years), Kubota maintains a favorable view of poststructuralist epistemologies in discussing the power relationships evident in the race, class, and gender interrelationships of individuals.
In chapter 16 Constant Leung (2005; pp. 275-294) examines ‘communicative competence’ in light of the history of ELF, World Englishes, and critical SLA theory in her paper “Convivial Communication: Recontextualizing Communicative Competence.” Considering the globalized context of English, Leung suggests recontextualizing traditional English language teaching approaches and pedagogy to be culturally appropriate and applicable to the given environment. Kramsch and Whiteside (2008; pp. 295-315) in chapter 17 expand upon Leung’s implications as they explore multilingualism in their paper, “Language Ecology in Multilingual Settings: Towards a Theory of Symbolic Competence.” Using complexity theory and post-modern sociolinguistics Kramsch and Whiteside discuss ecological epistemologies applied to multilingual settings and suggest that learners and educators take upon themselves a mindset of symbolic competence which allows an individual to maintain an inclusive and comprehensive awareness of self, despite potential feelings of foreignness during intercultural communication.
Continuing in the context of communication and concluding the section, Cameron (2002; pp. 316-328) discusses differences in politeness and meaning according to individual norms in her paper “Globalization and the Teaching of ‘Communication Skills.’” Given these differences, instructors have the challenge of explaining the language being taught and politeness ideology associated with the given language which may allow for constructive and critical discussions about language choices leading to greater awareness and knowledge of the language being learned.
Part IV examines practical ways to apply applied linguistics in real world contexts. Using an ethnography account of a doctoral student named Oliver, John Flowerdew (2000; pp. 336-352) examines challenges in publishing for NNS scholars in his paper “Discourse Community, Legitimate Peripheral Participation and the Nonnative-English-Speaking Scholar.” Not being a native speaker, Oliver was distant from his desired discourse community, which meant he could not easily participate in the scholarly publication process. As a result, Flowerdew suggests that interactive training programs promoting communication with NS peers could reduce the distance with the desired discourse community.
The distance described above between NNS speakers and NS communities also affects language testing approaches. In chapter 20, Tim McNamara (2001; pp. 353-363) suggests alternative assessment approaches as a result of constantly changing social environments in his paper “Language Assessment as Social Practice: Challenges for Research.” Constantly changing social environments present particular challenges for language learners trying to adapt to native speaker work communities.
In chapter 22, Duff, Early, and Wong (2000; pp. 364-396) examine immigrants seeking employment in the medical community in their paper “Learning language for work and life: The Linguistic Socialization of Immigrant Canadians Seeking Careers in Healthcare.” Overall they suggest that programs preparing NNSs for medical employment should be revised to equip ESL learners with the technical and pragmatic language skills necessary to function as employees in the medical field.
While it may be that NNSs need to acquire skills to become employable, it is also important to recognize the multilingual communities of NNSs, such that policies may reflect the linguistic identities and communities of NNS individuals. In chapter 22, Hornberger (2002; pp. 397-413) discusses various multilingual settings that concern NNSs in her paper “Multilingual Language Policies and the Continua of Biliteracy: An Ecological Approach.” Specifically, she is concerned with languages as ecologies, and argues that multilingual policies actually reflect languages in terms of this ecology metaphor because this sort of policy is ultimately concerned with allowing languages to continue to develop and flourish. As a result, she suggests that language educators, language planners, and language users should be active in promoting language policies that view languages as ecologies. Since policies reflect the often top-down political contexts of languages within communities of language users it is important to examine the language of such policies to understand the intentions of the policy makers. Various modes of critical discourse analysis are useful in developing an understanding of the positions indicated in policy documents.
Using political discourse analysis, in her paper, “Political Discourse Analysis from the Point of View of Translation Studies,” Christina Schäffner (2004; pp. 414-436) in chapter 23 explores “The translation of politics and the politics of translation” (p. 416) in the context of current issues within Translation Studies, resulting in her assertion that Political Discourse Analysis and Translation Studies are complementary for interdisciplinary studies. While policy analysis is concerned with practical issues concerning language and communication in society, understanding language in terms of creativity is also very useful for understanding language practices within various communities.
In chapter 24, Maybin and Swann (2007; pp. 437-453) discuss sociocultural aspects of language creativity in their paper “Everyday Creativity in Language: Textuality, Contextuality, and Critique.” Specifically, they are concerned with two areas of applied linguistics: poetic language and linguistic anthropological research on performance, both of which work together to display a discursive view of language in terms of creativity.
Resuming the more rigid aspect of language policy within the legal context, in chapter 25 Pavlenko (2008; pp. 454-475) discusses issues concerning non-native speakers and Miranda warnings (alluding to issues with legal language in general) in her paper ““I’m very not about the law part”: Non-Native Speakers of English and the Miranda Warnings.” The study looks at comprehension issues concerning NNSs and language used by police such as Miranda warnings. Pavlenko suggests that governments should provide translations for NNSs and that ESL curricula should include studies in legal English.
The final chapter in part IV (and in the book) follows suit in the critical analysis theme of this final section and is focused upon understanding language in terms of food marketing discourse which is reflective of the politics and social status of the given time. In their paper “‘But it’s all true!’: Commercialism and Commitment in the Discourse of Organic Food Promotion,” Cook, Reed, and Twiner (2009; pp. 476-491) use several epistemologies to develop understanding concerning the politics behind organic food promotion. Their findings include the discovery that certain terms have significant implications in determining and maintaining certain power relations especially between corporations and consumers. They challenge traditional perceptions of PR language suggesting that the accepted view of how PR language works is not cohesive with the data they collected, which is important considering that a change in attitude leads to a change in behavior. Overall, this section highlights the multi-modal and interconnected developments of various epistemologies within Applied Linguistics indicating the breadth and depth of what the field has become and the various directions it continues to move toward.
The field of Applied Linguistics has developed from its early stages of being Linguistics applied to language learning environments, to a multi-discourse approach to understanding complex issues about language in society (sociolinguistics) and the way language affects an individual (psycholinguistics). The concept of a native speaker is central to both fields that comprise the field of Applied Linguistics since determining individual identity in terms of language is relative to the Davies’ dichotomy of social group and community norms. According to Chomsky (quoted in Paikeday 1985:58), “Everyone is a Native Speaker of the particular language states that the person has ‘grown’ in his/her mind/brain.” But of course, not everyone would agree with this definition, especially individuals in power who determine the employability of an individual based upon NS status, which brings up issues of equity and equal opportunity. But how are we able to determine an equal playing field if, as Cook recognizes, language in terms of equality is difficult to measure, especially when language is static, developing, or reducing and too complex to be divided into NS-NNS categorizations? This is the sort of question that is of primary concern in the field of Applied Linguistics today.
When approaching language we are forced to consider it in the global and local context which is perhaps why the term “glocalized” has become relevant. The question, “can one use the ‘master’s tools’ to deconstruct the ‘master’s house’?” (p. 96) implies the historical ownership that language has had traditionally, while also indicating the current global contexts of non-native speakers who possess a language in various degrees and contexts. Language is constantly being re-contextualized and localized, which is why Pennycook asserts that Hip-hop is a vehicle bringing English across trans-cultural lines. Thus, we should consider the most recent contexts and uses of language when approaching the way we view English, especially as a lingua-franca (ELF) within non-English cultures.
But, how do we assess the identity of a learner, or as Pierce (1995) puts it, power relations between second language learners and target language speakers? Traditionally, identity has been deconstructed and reconstructed through epistemologies such as post-structuralism. However, as Block implies in his findings that post structural analysis is problematic since it is derived from Western thought, it is difficult to apply this Western approach when analyzing the way foreign cultures realize languages. It is challenging because it means seating one’s self in a contradicting power position and making Western value judgments on a culture that does not ascribe to Western values. Particular to differences between Western cultures and others is politeness discourse, about which Cameron (2002) accurately suggests that politeness ideology ought to be discussed often in student-teacher conversations and in SLA approaches and contexts.
This book offers great insight to instructors and students who are interested in understanding more about the developments of SLA research. These developments often reflect the changing status of language, and so it is useful to view language using the metaphor of ecologies (Hornberger 2002). Similar to the changing status of language, the field of Applied Linguistics continues to evolve and expand as a far-reaching interdisciplinary and multimodal approach to understanding the relationship between language and individuals in various contexts. This collection of papers dating from the 1990s and into more recent times indicates the various fields and developments that have come to form the field of Applied Linguistics since its inception in the 1950s. As a result, “The Routledge Applied Linguistics Reader” is a valuable resource for students, teachers, and scholars, and is a significant contribution to the field of Applied Linguistics, demonstrating important developments within the field.
Haugen, E. (1972) The ecology of language. In A. Dil (Ed). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Paikeday, T.M. (1985) The native speaker is dead! Toronto and New York: Paikeday Pub. Co.
Tollefson, J.W. (1991) Planning language, planning inequality: Language policy in the community. London: Longman.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Tyler A. Barrett is a PhD student in Language and Diversity studies at the
Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary. His interests include
sociolinguistic discourses such as politeness, race, multiculturalism,
class, globalization, and identity.