Cultural-Political and Social-Educational Perspectives
PART II: Knowing one’s options – issues in critical language awareness
PART II Knowing one’s options – issues in critical language awareness Teaching for “strong voices”: reconstructing the reflexive dimension in communicative language teaching Stephan Breidbach This chapter explores the link between communicative language teaching and a critical, reflexive dimension in foreign language education. In becoming the ideological mainstream in foreign language teaching, communicative language teaching has lost its original impetus for social and political emancipation of the language learners. This sociopolitical dimension needs to be reconstructed within the notion of communicative competence as the underlying concept of communicative language teaching. This is especially important as the current discursive frame of language teaching is set towards outcome standards and testability, leaving only marginal space to address concepts of learner emancipation, learner participation and learner identity – in short: the develop ment of the learners’ “strong voices.” 1 Introduction To teach language well requires an awareness of what it does, an awareness that it is more than words or sentences that are either right or wrong. It also requires a genuine effort to teach language across the curriculum, that is, to agree on a common language philosophy in the school, a common commitment to assist learners in finding a personal, strong, effective voice to speak in. These are difficult tasks. (van Lier/Corson 1997a: xii, original emphasis) Developing learners’ voices to become strong and effective, van Lier and Corson argue, takes a holistic, crosscurricular approach to language teaching. It also takes a view of language education that is more than teaching learners to...
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