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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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2. Global and Digital Setting


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2.   Global and Digital Setting

2.1    Where Are the Learners?

Since the mixing of societies and civilizations has been a constant of universal history, our current globalization has been preceded by earlier phases of the phenomenon (such as Islamization from the 10th century) which “have each provided mirrors without which the image of different cultures could not be formed” (translation)1 (Amselle, 2001: 14). The necessity of understanding foreign languages goes back to the dawn of time. Multilingualism has always existed but now it has become the norm to the extent that, with the proliferation of interactions, communities find themselves in increasingly tight networks of interdependence.

Linguistic diversity is an intrinsic and historical component of Europe as a geopolitical entity and cultural construction. Each era of European history has distinct categories of language learners. For example, multilingual education is an ancient reality in the Netherlands. From the 16th century, authors of manuals, grammars, and dictionaries have been multilingual. The languages that merchants and traders at international fairs needed to learn for traveling included: Latin, French, German, Spanish, Italian, English, and Portuguese. During the 19th century, in the eyes of practice-oriented educators, modern languages were considered a necessity for educating the children of the merchant bourgeoisie. Thorbecke’s education law of 1863 officially introduced the mandatory teaching of French, English, and German, in that order (Kok Escalle, 2009).

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