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Developing Criticality in Practice Through Foreign Language Education

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Stephanie Houghton and Etsuko Yamada

Many universities have adopted criticality as a general aim of higher education, in order to meet the demands of an increasingly globalised world. But what is criticality, and how does it develop in practice? This book explores the concept in detail and considers how it can be systematically developed in practical ways through foreign language education.
Taking a practice-first rather than a theory-first approach, the book presents two case studies based on action research in order to investigate criticality development through foreign language education. One study was conducted in beginner level Japanese language classes at a British university by a Japanese teacher-researcher, and the other was conducted in upper-intermediate English language classes at a Japanese university by a British teacher-researcher. The two studies illuminate the complex experiences of students and teachers as criticality starts to develop in both planned and unplanned ways, from beginner-level to more advanced levels of foreign language learning. The authors also suggest a range of practical teaching approaches which can be used to develop criticality through targeted instruction.

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Preface xi

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Preface ‘… being an academic is not a job but just a way of life’ — Byram 2004: xix Many universities have adopted criticality as a general aim of higher edu- cation to meet the demands of an increasingly globalised world. The main purpose of this book is to introduce the concept of criticality, and to con- sider how it can be systematically developed through foreign language education in practical ways. A significant feature of the book is that it is written from the stand- point of the teacher-researcher. Our initial research questions were gener- ated by everyday teaching practice in its ‘natural setting’ of the classroom. Through the doctoral research that ensued, we both explored the devel- opment of criticality, independently of one other but from within the same research group, and each under the separate supervision of Professor Emeritus Michael Byram of the University of Durham, UK. This book represents an attempted partial synthesis of our doctoral theses, and ref lects our shared interest and vision of what it means to become critical through interculturally-oriented foreign language education. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to our mentor, Professor Byram, who guided us from our experience as sojourn- ers into a wider and deeper intercultural world with his sharp academic insights and understandings. We also want to thank the editorial staf f at Peter Lang for their professionalism and support. Stephanie Houghton and Etsuko Yamada 30 September 2011

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