Exploring the Complexity of Language and Learning in Classroom Contexts
Judith L. Green
Rebecca M. Kantor
The Ohio State University
In the last two decades, an extensive body of literature has developed about language learning and, to a lesser extent, the influence of language on learning. This body of knowledge reflects an international commitment to the understanding of language learning with a special focus on school settings. Drawing on work in language-related disciplines, such as anthropology, linguistics, literary theory, psychology, and sociology, educators concerned with language in educational settings have provided clear insights into the ways in which children learn language and use language to learn.
What is unique about this body of scholarship is that it has led to changes in curriculum simultaneously with the generation of the knowledge base. Thus, theory and practice have been, and will continue to be, inextricably linked for those working in the area of language and schooling. This is because the work on language and schooling has been a shared enterprise in two senses: First, teachers, curriculum developers, researchers, and policy makers share a common body of knowledge on which to base their work; and second, those involved in the enterprise often share each others' roles. For example, teachers are often researchers of student learning or classroom practice while they are also developing curriculum. Researchers are often involved in curriculum development as they engage in collaborative research with teachers. What joins these people and makes their roles interactive is more than just a concern for language; it is a concern for learning in educational settings.
What we hope to do in this chapter is to locate our perspective within the conversation of this community of educators. To do this, we explore