Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction

Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction

Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction

Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction

Synopsis

This accessible guide and introduction to critical applied linguistics provides a clear overview, highlighting problems, debates, and competing views in language education, literacy, discourse analysis, language in the workplace, translation and other language-related domains. Covering both critical theory and domains of practice, the book is organized around five themes: the politics of knowledge, the politics of language, the politics of texts, the politics of pedagogy, and the politics of difference. It is an important text for anyone involved in applied linguistics, TESOL, language education, or other language-related fields.

Excerpt

It was some 10 years ago that with the announcement of a new journal, Issues in Applied Linguistics, to be edited by graduate students at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), I decided to try out the notion of critical applied linguistics (Pennycook, 1990). A graduate student myself at that time, I was on the one hand trying to express my own deep dissatisfactions with what I felt were severe limitations and blindspots in applied linguistics. Having taught for a number of years in Japan, Québec, and China, I had become concerned that the applied linguistics we taught was unable to deal with—indeed in a number of ways seemed to support—the many inequitable conditions I encountered: the frequent assumptions of privilege, authority, and superiority, from native speakers of English and the English language itself to particular approaches to teaching, cultural forms, or forms of social organization; and the constant denigration of other languages, other language speakers, and teachers and students from different backgrounds. On the other hand, I was trying to work out how different areas of critical work that I was just beginning to discover—critical pedagogy, critical discourse analysis, critical ethnography—might help develop an alternative way forward. The article I submitted received angry reviews, but in the end, the editor (thanks Antony) took a risk and published it.

Ten years on, Alan Davies' recent (1999) book, An Introduction to Applied Linguistics: From Practice to Theory, has just arrived on my desk. Critical applied linguistics (CAL) is now in the glossary (it exists!): “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). Well, not quite how I would have put it (see the rest of this book). For Davies and others from an earlier applied linguistic gener-

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