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Language Awareness in Teacher Education

Cultural-Political and Social-Educational Perspectives

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Stephan Breidbach, Daniela Elsner and Andrea Young

Teaching language and teaching with languages is what is called for in contemporary classrooms, be they language classrooms or otherwise. When the learners’ plurilingualism and societies’ multilingualism have social, cultural or political implications, becoming aware of language matters is a necessity both for non-specialist teachers and language teachers alike. This book thus presents a variety of research-based perspectives on the cultural-political and social-educational domains of language awareness. Context, both historical, socio-economic, political and cultural has an undeniable impact on language attitudes and awareness, and the variety of different contexts contained in this volume – the Basque County, Catalonia (Spain), England (UK), Finland, Germany, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Portugal, Scotland (UK), and Turkey – testifies to this. As each chapter outlines the specificities and the impact of context upon language policies, attitudes and beliefs, the authors in this book focus on language awareness as a multi-faceted concept fit to play a major role in the reform processes of teacher education in the 21 st century.

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PART II: Knowing one’s options – issues in critical language awareness

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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 sociopolitical 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, crosscurricular approach to language teaching. It also takes a view of language education that is more than teaching learners to...

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