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A Language School as a Complex System

Complex Systems Theory in English Language Teaching

by Achilleas Ioannis Kostoulas (Author)
Monographs 252 Pages

Summary

This book uses a complex systems perspective to describe how a language school in Greece evolved, and at times resisted change. Starting with an accessible introduction to complex systems theory (CST), it uses a complexity perspective to interpret data generated during a year of fieldwork. The author outlines the linguistic, pedagogical and political influences that shape teaching and learning at the school. He shows how teaching and learning emerged from the interaction of top-down constraints, available resources, and purposes of instruction. This produces a nuanced understanding English Language Teaching against the backdrop of globalisation. Additionally, the author exemplifies how CST can provide a theoretically powerful frame for researching English Language Teaching.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Author
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Frequently Used Abbreviations
  • 1 Motivations, background, and queries
  • 1.1. Complex systems in education
  • 1.1.1. What are complex systems?
  • 1.1.2 Describing complex systems
  • 1.2 Setting the scene
  • 1.2.1 ELT in state education
  • 1.2.2 The private ELT sector
  • 1.2.3 The school
  • 1.3 Outline of this book
  • 2 About complexity
  • 2.1 Establishing a new discipline
  • 2.2 But what is complexity?
  • 2.3 Characteristics of complex systems
  • 2.3.1 Complex systems are made up of heterogeneous components
  • 2.3.2 Complex systems have ambiguous boundaries
  • 2.3.3 Complex systems shape each other
  • 2.3.4 Complex systems produce emergent phenomena
  • 2.3.5 Complex systems tend to be very resilient
  • 2.3.6 Complex systems connect to their past states in curious ways
  • 2.4 Applications of CST
  • 2.4.1 CST in the study of language and language acquisition
  • 2.4.2 CST in education and ELT
  • 2.4.3 CST in the psychology of language learning and teaching
  • 2.4.4 CST as connective tissue among disciplines
  • 2.5 Ways forward
  • 3 Exploring the school’s state space
  • 3.1 The linguistic dimension: understandings of language
  • 3.1.1 The Standard Language ideology
  • 3.1.2 World Englishes
  • 3.1.3 English as a Lingua Franca
  • 3.2. The pedagogical dimension: teaching and learning approaches
  • 3.2.1 The transmissive approach
  • 3.2.2 The communicative approach
  • 3.2.3 The post-method approach
  • 3.3 The political dimension: visions of society
  • 3.3.1 Neutrality: seeing no evil
  • 3.3.2 Awareness: developing a critical understanding
  • 3.3.3 Resistance: empowering teachers and learners
  • 3.4 Constraining structures
  • 4 Tracing the affordance landscape
  • 4.1 Learning materials creating affordances
  • 4.2 Overview of the learning materials
  • 4.3 Affordances in the grammar activities
  • 4.4 Affordances in the vocabulary activities
  • 4.5 Affordances in the reading and writing activities
  • 4.6 Affordances in the listening and speaking activities
  • 4.7 Putting it all together
  • 5 Driving activity in the system
  • 5.1 Defining intentionality
  • 5.1.1 Intentionality is collective
  • 5.1.2 Intentionality is nested
  • 5.1.3 Intentionality is emergent
  • 5.1.4 Intentionality is generative
  • 5.2 Proving proficiency
  • 5.2.1 What was so important about certification?
  • 5.2.2 What certification options were available?
  • 5.2.3 On hierarchies and determinism
  • 5.3 Finding a place to belong
  • 5.4 Teaching about England
  • 5.4.1 Anglophile attitudes
  • 5.4.2 Anglocentric input
  • 5.4.3 The importance of local context
  • 5.5 Being the best
  • 5.5.1 Limitations of the state education system
  • 5.5.2 A culture of accountability
  • 5.5.3 Introduction of TEYL
  • 5.5.4 Complex interactions, unpredictable outcomes
  • 5.6 Preventing change
  • 5.6.1 The ‘Greek reality’
  • 5.6.2 Locally acquired knowledge
  • 5.6.3 Primacy of practice
  • 5.6.4 Incompatible beliefs working together
  • 5.7 Dynamics of intentions
  • 6 The shape of teaching and learning
  • 6.1 About attractors
  • 6.1.1 Terminological ground-clearing
  • 6.1.2 The shape of teaching and learning
  • 6.2 Reading and Vocabulary
  • 6.2.1 Prompt
  • 6.2.2 Reading and Listening
  • 6.2.3 Reading aloud
  • 6.2.4 Reading comprehension
  • 6.2.5 Vocabulary consolidation
  • 6.2.6 Practice
  • 6.2.7 Dictation
  • 6.2.8 Emergence in teaching and learning
  • 6.3 Traditional Grammar
  • 6.3.1 Prompting
  • 6.3.2 Explanation
  • 6.3.3 Practice
  • 6.3.4 Application
  • 6.3.5 Emergence as a localised phenomenon
  • 6.4 Process-based Writing
  • 6.4.1 Collaborative writing tasks
  • 6.4.2 Individual writing practice
  • 6.4.3 Feedback
  • 6.4.4 Reorienting the system
  • 6.5 An evolving system
  • 7 Using complexity to describe a language school
  • 7.1 Situating a system in place and time
  • 7.1.1 Rethinking boundaries
  • 7.1.2 Thinking about timescales
  • 7.2 Looking at the structure of the system
  • 7.2.1 Some tentative findings…
  • 7.2.2 …and some theoretical insights
  • 7.3 Examining the intentionalities that drive the system
  • 7.3.1 Defining intentionality
  • 7.3.2 Insights associated with the study of intentionalities
  • 7.4 Pedagogical activity emerging in the system
  • 7.4.1 Pedagogical activity as an outcome of intentionalities and resources
  • 7.4.2 The role of local context
  • 7.4.3 ELT and globalisation
  • 7.5 Future directions
  • Appendix. Methodological remarks
  • References
  • Index

Achilleas Kostoulas

A Language School
as a Complex System

Complex Systems Theory
in English Language Teaching

About the author

Achilleas Kostoulas received a PhD from the University of Manchester. He teaches courses in ELT and Applied Linguistics at the University of Graz. His research interests focus on the psychology of language learning and teaching.

About the book

This book uses a complex systems perspective to describe how a language school in Greece evolved, and at times resisted change. Starting with an accessible introduction to complex systems theory (CST), it uses a complexity perspective to interpret data generated during a year of fieldwork. The author outlines the linguistic, pedagogical and political influences that shape teaching and learning at the school. He shows how teaching and learning emerged from the interaction of top-down constraints, available resources, and purposes of instruction. This produces a nuanced understanding English Language Teaching against the backdrop of globalisation. Additionally, the author exemplifies how CST can provide a theoretically powerful frame for researching English Language Teaching.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Table of Contents

About the Author

List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Frequently Used Abbreviations

1 Motivations, background, and queries

1.1. Complex systems in education

1.1.1. What are complex systems?

1.1.2 Describing complex systems

1.2 Setting the scene

1.2.1 ELT in state education

1.2.2 The private ELT sector

1.2.3 The school

1.3 Outline of this book

2 About complexity

2.1 Establishing a new discipline

2.2 But what is complexity?

2.3 Characteristics of complex systems

2.3.1 Complex systems are made up of heterogeneous components

2.3.2 Complex systems have ambiguous boundaries

2.3.3 Complex systems shape each other

2.3.4 Complex systems produce emergent phenomena

2.3.5 Complex systems tend to be very resilient

2.3.6 Complex systems connect to their past states in curious ways

2.4 Applications of CST

2.4.1 CST in the study of language and language acquisition

2.4.2 CST in education and ELT

2.4.3 CST in the psychology of language learning and teaching

2.4.4 CST as connective tissue among disciplines ←5 | 6→

2.5 Ways forward

3 Exploring the school’s state space

3.1 The linguistic dimension: understandings of language

3.1.1 The Standard Language ideology

3.1.2 World Englishes

3.1.3 English as a Lingua Franca

3.2. The pedagogical dimension: teaching and learning approaches

3.2.1 The transmissive approach

3.2.2 The communicative approach

3.2.3 The post-method approach

3.3 The political dimension: visions of society

3.3.1 Neutrality: seeing no evil

3.3.2 Awareness: developing a critical understanding

3.3.3 Resistance: empowering teachers and learners

Details

Pages
252
ISBN (PDF)
9783631735718
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631735725
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631735732
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783631735688
Language
English
Publication date
2018 (September)
Tags
Complexity Language Education Applied Linguistics TESOL ELT
Published
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien. 2018. 251 pp., 9 b/w ill., 25 b/w tab.

Biographical notes

Achilleas Ioannis Kostoulas (Author)

Achilleas Kostoulas received a PhD from the University of Manchester. He teaches courses in ELT and Applied Linguistics at the University of Graz. His research interests focus on the psychology of language learning and teaching.

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