Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Survey on the Iranian ELT Community's Attitudes to Critical Pedagogy

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Survey on the Iranian ELT Community's Attitudes to Critical Pedagogy

Article excerpt


Critical pedagogy (CP) as one of the most radical changes in English language teaching (ELT) has turned into a common theme of research and discussion in recent years. Despite its practical implications, however, most of the research on this issue has been limited to its theoretical and conceptual dimensions. Conceiving the importance of this approach as well as considering the practical and applied dimensions of this newly emergent shift in ELT, this study is an attempt to study the Iranian ELT community's attitudes to some practical implications of CP in ELT. To acquire the Iranian ELT community's attitudes, a mixed-method approach was conducted. In the first phase, an interview survey was conducted with 8 applied linguists. Enjoying the content analysis of the data as well as the available literature on the topic, especially Akbari's (2008b) suggestions, a 10 item Likert-scale was prepared. To check the Iranian ELT community in the second phase, a questionnaire survey was conducted on 86 participants. Findings of this phase, as the main source of study, reveals that critical pedagogy is going to find a position in Iranian ELT community.

Keywords: Critical Pedagogy (CP), English Language Teaching (ELT), Attitude, Iranian society

1. Introduction

In Akbari's (2008a) words, the second language teaching profession has gone through a number of dramatic changes during the last two decades. Certainly one of the topics which has turned into a common theme of discussion and research is critical pedagogy (CP). According to Ford (2009), the last few decades have seen a growing interest in critical pedagogy in both ESL and EFL contexts. Rajagopalan (2000) also asserts that critical pedagogy has won over a growing number of advocates and enthusiasts in recent years.

While the concept of CP has been around for some time in education, it has been recently explored in the practice of English language teaching (ELT). In fact, CP as a new approach in ELT is known as one which places sociopolitical considerations high on the classroom agenda (Ford, 2009) and incorporates a set of principles and practices that aim not only to change the nature of schooling, but also the wider society (Pennycook, 1990).

Reviewing the literature on the topic reveals that the scholars within the broad and somewhat diverse critical pedagogy tradition have tried to intensify the discussion of the political and sociocultural implications that permeate English language teaching (Cox and Assis-Peterson, 1999). In a more precise word, the major concern of the advocates of CP is with the dominant discourse in ELT that considers the expansion and internationalization of English and the global spread of mainstream ELT practices and principles as natural, neutral and beneficial (Pennycook, 1994).

According to the writers within the CP tradition such as Canagarajah (1999), Pennycook (1994) and Philipson (1992), the absence of a critical view toward the teaching and the role of English seems to be a result of English teachers' submission to applied linguists which has emphasized some formal and methodological issues as well as some mostly unquestioned tenets. Following the appearance of this critical approach, today it is not surprising to see some controversy and discussion surrounding ELT as the most systematic way of spreading English throughout the world (Davari, 2011).

In fact, this critical and intellectual shift in applied linguistics that began in the early years of 1990s, as Anderson (2003) writes, saw its symbolic birth with the appearance of Philipson's Linguistic Imperialism in 1992 which was not the first publication to raise the issues it does, but qualitatively it seems to have had the most impact. According to Davari (2011), the outstanding appearance of this critical shift in ELT not only has significantly challenged and complicated the mainstream ELT, but also has mostly introduced critical pedagogy as an alternative approach to the mainstream ELT. …

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