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The Foreign Language Appropriation Conundrum

Micro Realities and Macro Dynamics

Thomas Szende

This monograph’s title reflects the need to articulate the classroom actions and strategies of an increasingly efficient technological environment with symbolic, cultural, and political issues, namely the multi-dimensionality of affiliations, which today condition the practices of learners, teachers, tool designers, and the dissemination (or not) of languages throughout the world.

Reflective testimony of a teacher who is passionate about his work, this book is also the result of research conducted by a linguist wishing to raise the field of foreign language education to the level of a coherent and rigorous discipline capable of presenting teaching/learning options to all languages/cultures.

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1. Introduction


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1.   Introduction

1.1    Learning and Teaching a Foreign Language

The reasons for choosing to learn a language are extremely varied, our needs and motivations constantly changing from one day to the next. We wish to approach and be recognized by the Other, to send and receive messages, to please our language teacher. We have a profound need for social recognition, such as passing an exam and obtaining the coveted international certificate, getting the dream job, moving to another country. We want to speak our father’s tongue, to develop an identity distinct from our mother’s, to discover our distant origins (real or imagined) or a culture for which we feel a particular affinity. We long to find the right words to woo a young woman, to understand songs, to talk to our neighbors, to read novels or scientific articles, to chat on the Internet or, for no other reason than to stay mentally sharp. We might insist on understanding the workings of the language we are learning or else we simply wish to speak it. Language is fascinating with its sounds, its spoken and unspoken words, feeding the most profound parts of our imagination, between attraction, reluctance, and rejection, even as the attitudes and actions of the Other are so often a mystery to us. The plurality of language and culture is part of the dynamics of humanity, and strangely, it appeals to philosophers, linguists, policy makers, teachers, and learners alike.

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