Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Innovation and Reciprocity in Applied linguistics/Innovasie En Wederkerigheid in Die Toegepaste Taalkunde

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Innovation and Reciprocity in Applied linguistics/Innovasie En Wederkerigheid in Die Toegepaste Taalkunde

Article excerpt

Applied linguistics is a discipline of design: it solves language problems by suggesting a plan, or blueprint, to handle them. These designs are sometimes promoted as highly innovative. Yet, are innovative language courses and tests in all respects truly new? This article will argue that most historically significant turning points in applied linguistic design demonstrate continuity with previously designed solutions. This was so for communicative teaching as well as for audio-lingualism. In testing, both interactive designs and socially responsible concerns have built on the past. Like innovation, reciprocity in design in applied linguistics is a foundational issue. How much reciprocity is there in the realms of language testing, language course design and language policy making? Why do we not explicitly check whether the design of a course should be as responsibly and carefully done as a test? How can we learn more from language policy development about making tests more accessible and accountable? What can test designers learn from course developers about specificity? There are many useful questions that we never seem to ask. The article will look across different levels of applied linguistic artefacts (language courses, language tests and language policies) at how we can enrich the principles of responsible design. We can continue to be surprised by innovation in the designed solutions that our profession provides, but we should also work on our understanding of what constitutes a responsible design framework. That foundation enables us to evaluate both the fleeting and the enduring in the new.

Toegepaste taalkunde is 'n ontwerpdissipline: dit los taalprobleme op deur 'n plan of bloudruk vir die hantering daarvan voor te stel. Hierdie ontwerpe word soms as hoogs vernuwend aangemerk. Is innoverende taalkursusse en -toetse egter in alle opsigte regtig nuut? Hierdie artikel argumenteer dat hi stories-be tekenisvolle draaipunte in toegepaste taalkundige ontwerpe 'n beduidende mate van kontinuiteit met vorige ontwerpe toon. Dit was die geval met kommunikatiewe taalonderrig, en selfs vir vroeere innovasies soos die oudio-lingualisme. Ook in taaltoetsing bon beide interaktiewe en meer sosiaal-verantwoordbare ontwerpe op die verlede. Soos met vernuwing, is die idee van wederkerigheid in toegepaste taalkundige ontwerpe 'n grondslagkwessie. Hoeveel wederkerigheid bestaan daar op die gebiede van taaltoetsing, taalkursusontwerp en taalbeleidsformulering? Hoekom kyk ons rue spesifiek na of die ontwerp van 'n kursus net so verantwoordelik en noukeurig gedoen word as die van 'n toets nie? Wat kan ons leer by taalbeleidsformulering as ons toetse meer toeganklik en verantwoordbaar wil maak? Wat kan toetsontwerpers by kursusontwikkelaars oor spesifisiteit leer? Daar bestaan talle nuttige vrae wat ons skynbaar nooit vra nie. Hierdie artikel oorweeg hoe, deur oor verskillende vlakke van toegepaste taalkundige artefakte (taalkursusse, taaltoetse en taalbeleide) heen te kyk, ons die beginsels van verantwoordelike ontwerp kan verryk. Ons wil graag verras word deur innovering in die ontwerpe wat ons professie aanbied, maar ons moet terselfdertyd werk aan ons begrip van 'n verantwoordelike ontwerpraamwerk. So 'n vertrekpunt bied ons 'n maatstaf om die vlietende en die standhoudende in nuwe ontwerpe mee te beoordeel.


Is history destiny?

Will language teaching survive as a profession? Not for the first time in its modern history is the combination of new technological instruments and a belief in scientific progress yielding forecasts of its imminent demise. A recent look into the future (Greene 2012:75) confidently predicts that language teaching may by 2050 become obsolete, since so many new technologies will make instant translation possible that there will be no more demand for learning a foreign language. In a similar vein, the article 'Has the ideas machine broken down' (The Economist 2013) makes the point that new technologies and their global reach may well begin to threaten not only jobs that require low levels of skill, but also ones requiring higher skills levels:

Pattern-recognition software is increasingly good at performing the tasks of entry-level lawyers, scanning thousands of legal documents for relevant passages. …

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