Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory, Politics, and Practice

By Sarah Benesch | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Critical EAP:
Theoretical Influences

Having discussed the official and unofficial histories of EAP and debates about its pedagogy and politics in the three previous chapters, I now turn to a fuller exploration of a theory of critical EAP. Because subsequent chapters offer examples of critical EAP in particular classroom settings, it is important to discuss the theoretical assumptions underlying that practice in this chapter.

The three main influences on my proposals for critical EAP (Benesch, 1993, 1996, 1999a, 1996b) are the theories of Paulo Freire and Michel Foucault and feminist writers, such as Kathleen Weiler, Carmen Luke, and Jennifer Gore, who have added dimensions to critical theory overlooked by male critical theorists. Ways these writers have informed critical EAP are discussed in the first part of the chapter, including similarities and differences in their views. The relationship between traditional EAP and critical EAP is then taken up, through a comparison of needs analysis and rights analysis.


FREIRE: HOPE AND DIALOGUE

My thinking about the limitations of traditional EAP and the promise of a critical approach has been influenced by Freire (1970, 1973, 1994, 1996, 1998a, 1998b). Several central tenets of his pedagogical theories have guided me in considering how to conceptualize and enact critical EAP: hope; limit-situation; untested feasibility; dialogue; and situatedness. These terms are discussed next, as they relate to Freirean pedagogy and critical EAP. Of them all, Freire's concept of hope is the one that distinguishes traditional and critical EAP most clearly, and I therefore

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