Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some excerpts from the Website "multi-competence" by Vivian Cook

It's not that I've never heard the term, but I somehow failed to notice the significance of "multi-competence." But as I was preparing for a presentation on a symposium on translation, I've come across the term and decided to have a quick Google search. Boy, what have I been missing!

"Multi-competence" is an important concept for issues in English Language Teaching in Japan, including translation, the use of L1, and the goal of ELT. Ministry of Education (MEXT) in Japan will soon implement the course of study, with which it discourages the use of L1 (Japanese) in English classes in senior high schools. It is not a total ban of the L1 use, but it is likely that English lessons may be deemed commendable by inspectors and bureaucrats if only Japanese is not heard there. (I've seen too many examples of thoughtless categorical judgment for educational matters by by inspectors and bureaucrats.)

MEXT seems to believe that the virtual ban of L1 use in English lessons will benefit Japanese students of various levels for their English proficiency and other academic capabilities. Together with many teachers in classroom, I wonder.

I wonder 1) whether their English proficiency will in fact rise, and 2) whether English proficiency (as understood as the ability separated from Japanese language ability) is the only aim of public school education in Japan.

The concept of "multi-competence" proposed by Vivian Cook helps to clarify the above issues. As I regret I haven't paid enough attention to it, I urge Japanese readers in particular to examine the concept.

Vivian Cook himself provides a wonderful Web site on the concept.

Below are some excerpts from the site that I find particularly relevant to the above issues. (Bibliographical links are added by me. For the complete bibliographical information, go to the original web page whose URL is indicated at the end of the excerpt.)

First, let's confirm the definition of "multi-competence."

Multi-competence definition

The term 'multi-competence' was originally defined as 'the compound state of a mind with two grammars' (Cook, 1991); in the context of that paper, ‘grammar’ was used in the Chomskyan sense of the total knowledge of language in the mind (the I-language) leading some people to infer wrongly that multi-competence was restricted to syntax. So multi-competence is now usually said to be ‘the knowledge of more than one language in the same mind’ (Cook, 1994). Multi-competence thus presents a view of second language acquisition (SLA) based on the second language (L2) user as a whole person rather than on the monolingual native speaker.
(Emphasis added)

To paraphrase in my own way, multi-competence refers to the ability embodied in an L2 user where her L1 and L2 are inseparably integrated in her mind and body.

Multi-competence reminds me of plurilingual and pluricultural competence in Common European Framework of References in Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR). Below is the definition provided on p. 168, at the beginning of Chapter 8 of the document:

Plurilingual and pluricultural competence refers to the ability to use languages for the purposes of communication and to take part in intercultural interaction, where a person, viewed as a social agent has proficiency, of varying degrees, in several languages and experience of several cultures. This is not seen as the superposition or juxtaposition of distinct competences, but rather as the existence of a complex or even composite competence on which the user may draw.

As I stated in my blog article ("Where is Self, and what is it?" No, it's rather "How is Self?": Luhmann's theory of autopoiesis), the above definitions of plurilingual and pluricultural competence suggests that multiple languages within a single person are blended into a new competence that is either different her old L1 or her targeted (but never attainable) native competence of L2. This is like H2O that exhibits unique features that its original elements, two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom, never show when they are separated.

Multi-competence shares this notion of a new competence. It refuses to measure the competence of an L2 user against the competence of a monolingual native speaker.

Despite its acceptance of interlanguage, much SLA research has continued to measure L2 users against native speakers. Inevitably what L2 users do is seen as a mistake whenever it fails to conform to the language of monolingual native speakers and the L2 users’ level of language proficiency is seen as deficient rather than different: It’s all right if your English accent proclaims you come from Newcastle upon Tyne but not from Paris. This native speaker comparison lurks behind such typical statements as: “Unfortunately, language mastery is not often the outcome of SLA” (Larsen Freeman & Long, 1991, p. 153); or “The lack of general guaranteed success is the most striking characteristic of adult foreign language learning” (Bley-Vroman, 1989, p. 42). It is possible to measure ducks in terms of swans. But when everything has to satisfy the swan criteria, the unique qualities of ducks will always elude the observer, just as black English, working-class English and women’s language were once seen as pale shadows of a ‘true’ variety. Uniquely bilingual functions of language like codeswitching and translation will never show up in a native speaker model; unique grammatical forms of L2 users like the rules of the Basic Variety (Klein & Perdue, 1997) will appear just as mistakes.(Emphasis added)

A Japanese user of English speaks English not necessarily deficiently but rather differently from monolingual native speakers of English. We may argue that she's rather more capable in bilingual translation and code-switching than monolingual speakers.

However, SLA and ELT have been treating L2 users as somebody incomplete: someone whose knowledge of the target language is never as perfect as a native speaker's; someone who is a perpetual learner, thus L2 learners. With the different-but-not-necessarily-deficient view, the concept of multi-competence calls for the use of the term L2 users instead of L2 learners.

But what term should be used to describe people who are multicompetent? People who acquire their first language are not regarded as L1 learners for the rest of their lives. Why should people who know more than one language be treated differently? Calling people L2 learners seemed to confirm their subordinate status. Hence the more neutral term ‘L2 user’ was introduced. ‘L2 user’ refers to people who know and use a second language at any level; multi-competence is not restricted to high-level balanced bilinguals but concerns the mind of any user of a second language at any level of achievement. ‘L2 learner’ is reserved for people who have no everyday use of the second language, say children in foreign language classrooms. Of course L2 users may also be L2 learners at different times of life or indeed times of day - an L2 learner of English in London who steps out of the classroom immediately become an L2 user of English.
(Emphasis added)

When the knowledge of two languages is integrated in a person of multi-competence (or plurilingual and pluricultural competence), the two knowledge systems influence each other and both change; Just as L2 use is influenced by L1 ('transfer'), L1 use will be influenced by L2 ('reverse transfer'). On top of that, the entire cognition changes. Evidence abounds.

A vast amount of SLA research has looked at the effects of the first language on the second, labelled ‘transfer’ or ‘crosslinguistic influence’, still a favorite topic for dissertations exploring yet more first languages or novel aspects of language. By looking at the whole learner’s mind, multi-competence opened up reverse transfer from the second language to the first and other forms of transfer (Jarvis & Pavlenko, 2009). A new research question was then: Do you still speak your first language like a monolingual native speaker when you know another language?
In virtually every aspect of language studied, L2 users have turned out to be different from monolinguals.
Rather than enumerate further examples, the reader is referred to Cook (2003), which was devoted to this issue.

More than language has changed in the L2 user’s mind. Learning another language helps with learning to read the first language (Yelland et al, 1993), with metalinguistic awareness (Bialystok, 2001), and with the ability to write essays in the first language (Kecskes & Papp, 2000). Knowing another language delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Bialystok, Craik, Klein & Viswanathan, 2004), leads to greater density of connections in the corpus callosum area that connects left and right hemispheres of the brain (Coggins et al, 2004), and develops the areas of the brain responsible for control (Green, 2010.). All of these support the proposition that the L2 user is a distinct kind of person from a monolingual.
(Emphasis added)

This notion of multi-competence, supported by empirical evidence, has great implications for language teaching. The next is some excerpts from the section of "Multi-competence and language teaching." We now have new ideas about the goals of foreign language teaching (the native speaker is not the goal), the use of L1 (L1 is not a problem but a resource in L2 learning), and the ideal teacher (the native speaker has no learning experience of the L2).

Multi-competence and language teaching

The multi-competence idea has important implications for language teaching, which has often seen its task as making students as like native speakers as possible. Multi-competence is now starting to be utilized in books on SLA and language teaching such as Cook (2008), Ortega (2009) and Scott (2009).

- Goals of language teaching. Multi-competence takes the goal of language teaching as producing a successful L2 user, not an imitation native speaker. It thus aligns with the English as Lingua Franca (ELF) movement (Seidlhofer, 2004) rather than with the Common European Framework of Reference (Council of Europe, 2001), which seems to use the native rather than the L2 user as a touchstone.

- The language teaching classroom. The multi-competence perspective does not see any virtue in making the students use only the second language in the classroom since this denies the very existence of the first language in their minds. It advocates principled use of the second language when classroom goals can be achieved more efficiently by its use (Cook, 1999).

- Native speaker language teachers. A non-native speaker teacher (NNST) is an L2 user who has acquired another language; a native speaker teacher (NST) is not. Hence the NNST can present a role model for the students, has learnt the language by a similar route to the students and can codeswitch to the students’ own language when necessary. The NST’s only substantive advantage may be a greater facility in the target language, but as a native speaker not as an L2 user. Recent attitudes are conveyed in Llurda (2005).

On a different web page (Multi-competence: Black Hole or Wormhole?), Cook further examines the implications that multi-competence has for language teaching.

The ban of L1 use in L2 classroom started more than one century ago with the reformist idea that L2 should be learned just like a baby acquires L1. This idea was a response to centuries-old practice of the Grammar Translation Method. It successfully introduced the Direct Method, which correctly emphasized the oral aspect of language learning, but it was based upon a totally false assumption that L2 learners are (to be) like a baby acquiring L1. It disregards not only the critical period of L1 users but also the cognitive maturity of L2 learners whose knowledge of L1 is perfect and unerasable.

Consequently, conflict started between the reform-minded authorities and teachers. Teachers, who know the reality of L2 learning better than the authorities, have resisted the ban of L1 in L2 classrooms. But it is the authorities that possesses much more political power, and teachers were stigmatized (and sometimes penalized) when they used L1 so that students learn L2 better. L1 knowledge in L2 users is undeniably real. It's better to make the best use of the reality than to pretend to deny it. It's high-time to abandon the reformist idea of the L1/L2 separation, which is more than one century old.

Over time the implications of the multi-competence approach for language teaching have become clearer. One aspect was the use of the first language in the classroom. The traditional view of language teaching going back to the late 19th century had insisted that the L2 was learnt in isolation from the L1: the model was always of complete separation. Hence, despite their other differences, teaching methods from the Direct Method to the audiolingual method to task-based learning were united in ignoring the first language already present in all the learners’ minds invisibly in the classroom.

Yet, despite the official advice from the authorities to minimise L1 use, teachers continued to make use of it while teaching, while harbouring feelings of guilt, as Macaro (1997) documents. If there are many possible relationships between the two languages as well as separation, if the L2 interlanguage is indissolubly wedded to the L1 in most L2 learners’ and users’ minds, separation is a misguided commonsense view of second language acquisition rather than something to be imposed upon all learners. Cook (2001) called for a rational evaluation of the ways in which the L1 could be used in the classroom, such as providing a short-cut for giving instructions and explanations where the cost of the L2 is too great, building up the inter-linked L1 and L2 knowledge in the students’ minds, carrying out learning tasks through collaborative dialogue with fellow-students and developing L2 activities such as code-switching for later real-life use.
(Emphasis added)

Our reality is that L2 users cannot ever be L1 native speakers, and they don't have to be. L1 native speakers are not the ideal state of L2 users or the best teachers for them.

This leads into the fundamental issues of the purpose of language teaching and of the target that the learner is aiming at (Cook, t.a., a). The crucial point is basing the target on what learners are going to be, L2 users, not on what they can never be, monolingual native speakers of the L2. L2 users have distinctive uses for language such as translating and code-switching: they can do more with language than any monolingual. While some L2 users may need to speak to native speakers of the L2, they rarely need to pass as natives, even though this may still be a personal goal for many. For languages like English and French, however, the need is often to speak to fellow L2 users: English is a useful lingua franca for much of the globe. Sometimes indeed speakers of the same L1 may choose to use an L2 to each other, as happens with Arabic-speaking businessmen communicating in English e-mails between countries. Language teaching goals, teaching methods and coursebooks need to look at the achievable goal of creating L2 users. Hence, as the papers in Llurda (2005) attest, the day of the native speaker teacher may be over; the NS teacher is not a good model of an L2 user who has got there by the same route that the students will take and ceteri paribus does not have the appropriate experience or insight into the students’ situation; ‘in the new rapidly emerging climate native speakers may be identified as part of the problem rather than the source of a solution’ (Graddol, 2006, p.114). Further discussion of multi-competence in language teaching will be found in Cook (t.a. a; b).
(Emphasis added)

Inspectors and bureaucrats of MEXT, Japan, who still seems to have the old reformist idea and insist that English lessons should be conducted (almost) entirely in English need to examine this concept of multi-competence carefully to see whether their policy is realistic and effective. Those in power must be responsible for their commands.

For busy people, though, the paper below may be the best resource to examine the issue.

The summary provided by Cook is as follows:

This paper argues for the re-examination of the time-honoured view that the first language should be avoided in the classroom by teachers and students. The justifications for this rest on a doubtful analogy with first language acquisition, on a questionable compartmentalisation of the two languages in the mind and on the aim of maximising the second language exposure of the students, laudable but not incompatible with use of the first language. The L1 has already been used in alternating language methods and in methods that actively create links between L1 and L2, such as the New Concurrent Method, Community Language Learning and Dodson's Bilingual Method. Treating the L1 as a classroom resource opens up ways of employing the L1, for the teacher to convey meaning and explain grammar and to organise the class, and for the students to use as part of their collaborative learning and of their individual strategy use. The first language can be a useful element in creating authentic L2 users rather than something to be shunned at all costs.
(Emphasis added)

Of particular importance is the section of 'The argument from language compartmentalisation' (in 'Reasons for avoiding the L1 in the classroom'), where Cook counter-argues against the language compartmentalization and suggests that L1 should be regarded as a mediating resource for L2 learning.

Yet the two languages are inter-woven in the L2 user’s mind in vocabulary (Beauvillain & Grainger, 1987), in syntax (Cook, 1994), in phonology (Obler, 1982) and in prag-matics (Locastro, 1987). L2 users are more flexible in their ways of thinking and are less governed by cultural stereo-types (Cook, 1997b). The L2 meanings do not exist separately from the L1 meanings in the learner's mind, regardless of whether they are part of the same vocabulary store or parts of different stores mediated by a single conceptual system (Cook, 1997b). A L2 is not just adding rooms to your house by building on an extension at the back: it is rebuilding all the internal walls. Trying to put languages in separate compartments in the mind is doomed to failure since they are connected in many ways.


The L1 plays an integral role in L2 learning as well as L2 use. Teachers using group-work have often lamented the tendency for students to use their L1. Vygotskyan-style research has, however, documented how this forms a valuable part of learning as a social enterprise and of the 'scaffolding' support that the learners need to build up the L2: 'L1 is used as a powerful tool of semiotic mediation between learners … and within individuals…' (Anton & DiCamilla, 1998, p.415). Surveys of students' strategies show the importance of this L1 use, for example the 73% of students who 'ask classmates for meaning' (Schmitt, 1997). The theory of cultural learning sees collaborative dialogue as the essent-ial means by which human beings learn (Tomasello 1999). We learn by trying to see the world from the viewpoint of others.

As Stern (1992, p.282) puts it, ‘The L1-L2 connection is an indisputable fact of life’. Keeping the languages visibly separate in language teaching is contradicted by the invisible processes in the students’ minds. Language teaching that works with this fact of life is more likely to be successful than teaching that works against it. Many likely L2 goals for students involve mediation between two languages rather than staying entirely in the L2. Students trained in coordinate bilingualism will, for instance, find it difficult to carry out the jobs of interpreters, business negotiators or travel representatives. Nor indeed can a separate L2 achieve the internal goals of language teaching; if the aim of learning a language is to improve the students’ minds cognitively, emotionally or socially, the L2 had better not be insulated from the rest of the mind.
(Emphasis added)

As I wrote in my recent Japanese blog article, many Japanese students write a sentence like "I if become soccer player is play hard," which is apparently a direct translation of the counterpart Japanese sentence (「ボクは(I) もし(if) サッカー選手(soccer play) になったら(is) 一生懸命プレーする(play hard)」)。

Arguing that L2 learners can wipe out the infuluence of their L1 knowledge if teachers kept using English for a few hours a week is sheer nonsense. Teachers should rather take advantage of the common knowledge of L1 to learn the new L2 grammar. Too much unnecessary use of L1 is of course not advisable, but abondoing the effective use of L1 is only counter-effective. I expect that 1) with poor guidance only provided in English, many students will fail to achieve English proficiency and that 2) they will entirely miss opportunities to gain cross-linguistic and cross-cultural understanding that they need in global competition for uniqueness.

If inspectors and bureaucrats of MEXT believe that they are reforming ELT of Japan by forcing teachers to use as much English and as little Japanese as possible in classroom, they should wonder whether they're changing ELT for better or for worse. Their reformist idea, a century old one, is not factual.


"It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil."

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."

Video by TESOLacademic.org (http://www.tesolacademic.org/)

Friday, October 21, 2011

P. Duff & S. Talmy (2011) Language Socialization Approaches to Second Language Acquisition

[This is one of the articles compiled for a class for my graduate students in the autumn/winter semester in 2011/2012.]

Patricia A. Duff & Steven Talmy (2011) "Language Socialization Approaches to Second Language Acquisition" in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback, Kindle Edition ] (pp. 95-116)

p. 95

Q: How are language socialization approaches different from cognitivist SLA studies?

Q: Can you define and give examples of the following concepts: culture, social knowledge, ideologies, epistemologies, identities and subjectivities, affect, and sociolinguistic routines?

p. 96

Q: What do the authors mean when they say "language is fundamentally redefined from a language socialization perspective"?

p. 97

Q: How can language learners/users be viewed as "sociohistoricall, socioculturally, and sociopolitically situated individual with multiple subjectivities and identities"?

Q: What is the major difference between L1 socialization and L2 socialization?

Q: What are "agency, contingency, unpredictablity, and multidirectionality in terms of learners and their language learning trajectories"?

p. 98

Q: Explain the bidirectional (and multidirectional) relationship between new members and old members of a community in the reproduction of existing L2 cultural and communicative practices.

Q: How can "unanticipated outcomes" arise in L2 socialization processes?

Q: What does ethnography investigate?

Japanese students may refer to my book guide page on qualitative researches.

Here is another guide of mine to qualitative researches written in Japanese.

p. 99

Q: Give your examples to the four types of data resources.

Q: What is the focus group as a research method?

Q: What is the stimulated recall as a research method?

p. 100

Q: Why does language socialization research often pay more attention to the interactional and linguistic processes than to outcomes?

Q: What is the criticism by Schecter and Bayley when they say that language socialization researches are "more restricted and deterministic" and "static, bounded and relatively unidirectional"?

p. 102

Q: What are the difference between language socialization as topic and language socialization as method?

Q: Why do the authors believe the calling for "gold standards" may be premature and overly restrictive?

p. 103

Q: How do the authors compare the paradigmatic debate within language socialization researches with the debate in the mid-1990s among cognitivist SLA researchers?

Q: What are the three differences between cognitivist SLA and L2 socialization research (Read the first paragraph of the section of "Supporting Findings").

p. 104

Q: What would Ortega's (2009) access and participation probably mean?
Ortega (2009) Understanding Second Language Acquisition Trans-Atlantic Publications, Inc.

Q: How is ethnomethodology here different from ethnography that appeared before?
Here's a quick answer.

Both ethnography and ethnomethodology are terms found in the sociological and anthropological fields of study and can refer to methods of research. Ethnography a method of research, while ethnomethodology is a subdivision of sociology that focuses on the way that human beings in different societies construct their social orders.

Ethnography is used primarily in cultural anthropology and is the preferred method used to study human beings' ways of life due to its unobtrusive nature. It enables anthropologists and sociologists study the link between behavior and culture and how this changes over time. An ethnography is highly detailed description of social life in a small number of cases.

Ethnomethodology is an alternative approach introduced by Harold Garfinkel to sociological inquiry. Ethnomethodology concerns itself with the everyday methods employed by people by drawing from the shared knowledge and reasoning of the society to respond to their environment. It seeks to describe the methods used in the production of social order.

Method of Research
A major difference between the two terms is that ethnography has a structured method of research while ethnomethology doesn't. The collection of information by ethnographers is conducted through a process called "participant observation," in which researches immerse themselves as much as possible in the daily life of the culture being studied. Details of their observations are recorded from the "native's point(s) of view" without the researcher imposing his own cultural interpretations to the data, according to the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Anthropology department. In contrast, ethnomethology doesn't have any formal research methods.

Field of Research
Another major difference is that ethnomethology is a field of research, unlike ethnography. Ethnomethology is the study of methodology, the way people make decisions and act and the methods they use to create a social order. Ethnography is not a field of research but a methodology used in other sociological fields. For example, an ethnomethologist would incorporate ethnography used by sociologists to study other cultures.


Q: How is language socialization different from Conversational Analysis (CA) in terms of its theory of learning?

Q: How are language socialization studies different form identity theories?
Post-structural feminism
Third-wave feminism

p. 109

Q: The authors say that power in language socialization "is not a fixed or assured attribute of those who are older, more experienced, and so on, but can also be demonstrated by novices who contest practices or demonstrate expertise or understanding lacking in their mentors." Explain what they mean by using the concepts of contingency and multidirectionality.


1.dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition; uncertainty; fortuitousness: Nothing was left to contingency.
2.a contingent event; a chance, accident, or possibility conditional on something uncertain: He was prepared for every contingency.
3.something incidental to a thing.

p. 110

Q: What do you think of the authors' assessment of Complexity Theory?

Q: How is language socialization different from neo-Vygotskian sociocultural theory and related sociocognitive and ecological accounts of learning?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Teaching grammar in close relation to logic and rhetoric

[This short article is in association with the web event [みんなで英語教育] 第2回「英文法指導」まとめ.]

The trivium

One of the contentions I made in the Keio Symposium on Pedagogical Grammar was that pedagogical grammar should not be taught or tested for its own sake; pedagogical grammar only serves its purpose when it helps learners acquire and use the target language.

I'll elaborate on the contention today and argue that grammar should be taught in close relation to logic and rhetoric. In short, we should respect the old wisdom of the trivium.

The trivium is defined by Sister Miriam Joseph, the author of The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric as follows: (Thanks again, Wikipedia. You're a hero for lazy writers!)

Logic is the art of thinking; grammar, the art of inventing symbols and combining them to express thought; and rhetoric, the art of communicating thought from one mind to another, the adaptation of language to circumstance.

Grammatical but unintelligent writing

As a Japanese college teacher in the department of English Language Teaching who has to teach students to write academic papers (or indeed reasonable essays in general) both in Japanese and in English, I often find teaching of logic and rhetoric far more important than teaching of grammar.

My students are reasonably educated in high school and their knowledge is not bad at all in English grammar (not to mention Japanese grammar). But what surprises me is that they are often not good in the use of logic and rhetoric even when they write in Japanese. Their thoughts are sometimes not consistent or coherent, and not expressed communicatively. Their logic sometimes does not extend a sentence; They often place their focal point in a wrong place of a sentence or paragraph. Those writings take much more time to comprehend and convey far less information than good writings do. These grammatical but unintelligible writings really confuse and irritate me. (I hope this essay of mine is not irritating you right now).

But when I tell my students that their essay doesn't make sense or is only clumsily written, some don't understand the point; Others understand but get frustrated because they don't know how they can improve. It seems that grammar is the only criterion in their writing. Those students who avoid studying mathematics and science to the limit of their legitimate curriculum proudly say that they hate logic. There are even some students who have never heard the word rhetoric.

This is why I make the undergraduate students in my seminar class read a number of Japanese books on the use of logic and rhetoric in (academic) essays. (ゼミ開始にあたって読んでおくべき本・論文 http://yanaseyosuke.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post_26.html)

I also spend almost an entire semester in the graduate course to teach them to read, write and think academically by using The Craft of Research by W. Booth, G. Colomb and J. Williams.

But honestly, I believe the above Japanese books are for senior high school students and The Craft of Research is for undergraduate students. I'm fairly sure that young students are quite capable of understanding these books. So when I was asked to teach a writing class due to the shortage of the staff member a couple of months ago, I chose without much hesitation Style: The Basic of clarity and Grace as the textbook for the freshmen. I'd like to dispel concerns of some teachers who believe that a book on English that deals with logic and rhetoric is "too difficult" for undergraduate students.

So here is my contention: logic and rhetoric should be and can be taught earlier in the Japanese education system.

From the whole to the parts

I expect at this point a roar of teachers complaining that even if they can teach logic and rhetoric in earlier stages they simply have no time to teach them in addition to grammar. In fact, one of the arguments that I frequently hear or read about pedagogical grammar is that we need to select and reduce grammar items to teach.

This objection is quite right on a modern assumption; Descartes, for example, wrote about four principles of the modern approach in Discourse on the Method as follows. (Thanks again, W!)

"The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgment than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt.

The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.

The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.

And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted."


The modern times have witnessed that this method of Self-evidence, Partition, Accumulation and Enumeration works, particularly in science and technology. Yet, it doesn't (and shouldn't) suggest that this modern method should be the universal method.

In teaching, we often rely on the modern method. We start from the analytically partitioned parts that are to be self-evident to students, accumulate them comprehensively, and then we declare that teaching is complete. But we know from experience that this approach doesn't often work, particularly where students are to learn a very complex system of knowledge and skills involving various factors. (Foreign language learning is a prime example).

But teachers have an excuse: whether or not students have mastered the targeted complex whole is up to the individual students. Students who haven't mastered must have been lazy or less-intelligent, for the teaching approach was right: what else can you expect in the modern times other than self-evidence, analysis, synthesis and enumeration!

But we may cast some of our distrust from our students to our approach. There are non-modern teaching/learning cultures, where, with their own shortcomings, a complex system of knowledge and skills are successfully learned.

Although it is common to quote Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP) in this context, I'm inclined to take a case of learning in Japanese martial arts (my favorite subject). But that is going to be a very long story, beginning from an account explaining how modern Japanese martial arts as most people know them are different from traditional ones, and continuing to histories of individual martial arts and of modern Japan in general. I don't think I'm sufficiently qualified to write on this subject in detail, so suffice it here to say that in some traditional teaching/learning approaches learners start from the whole to the parts. To be a bit more specific, learners start from the whole and occasionally go to parts as the teacher (or the experienced member of the group) deems necessary: learners never stay away from the whole and as they analyze some parts their whole develops into a higher stage.

This is quite different from the modern approach, where students start from the separated parts and (supposedly) reaches to the complex whole in the end. If the modern learning approach is characterized as analytical, the non-modern (pre-modern and/or post-modern) approach may be characterized as integrative. Being integrative does not mean being non-analytical or anti-analytical, though. The non-modern approach encourages occasional analysis of parts when appropriate, but the whole is never partitioned out: the whole is always more than the total sum of the parts, as Gestalt psychology says, and learners are always embedded in the whole.

When logic and rhetoric were taught together with grammar

So, my counter-objection is that teachers may not have enough time to teach logic and rhetoric because of their commitment, conscious or otherwise, to the modern approach. If we never leave the whole from the beginning to the end, and teach language integratively, with grammar, logic and rhetoric dealt with in their close mutual relationship -- probably in the spirit of the trivium --, then we may have sufficient time to teach logic and rhetoric.

The price of this trivium approach would be that grammar teaching becomes not as complete and systematic as the modern approach demands; neither does teaching of logic and rhetoric. As grammar, logic and rhetoric are taught in specific contexts (when their importance is obvious), some items may not have opportunities to be taught; students may not have the complete pictures of grammar, logic and rhetoric.

However, whenever I hear students (and sometimes teachers) say that what they usually mean by "studying English" is to do the vocabulary check (memorizing a list of one-to-one correspondence between English and Japanese words) and finishing the workbook of sentence grammar (answering quizzes on grammar of context-less sentences), I believe the price above is quite negligible, for those students (and teachers) whose main concern is the vocabulary check and the grammar workbook can hardly use English communicatively. At best, they can clumsily combine bits and pieces they know to produce grammatical sentences that are irritatingly hard to understand. If this is the case, as I believe it is, we may look back and restore the old wisdom of learning cultures. (And who has the complete pictures of grammar, logic and rhetoric in the first place?)

In the Keio Symposium where a lot of discussions, formal and informal, on pedagogical grammar took place, I heard many episodes of Japanese professors in the old days teaching many things at the same time in an undifferentiated manner. For example, one professor used Macbeth to teach syntax and pragmatics. Studying English literature was not really differentiated from studying linguistics, and syntax and pragmatics were not taught separately. Many claimed that these old professors may not have known the specialized technical notions that current studies have developed but they knew English better than we do. (As is often the case with recalling old episodes, there may be a bit of exaggeration here, but I understand the point.)

To borrow the way of thinking from martial arts, nothing is good unless it works. Martial artists may say whatever they want to say, but unless their skills are effective, it is no good. The same principle of pragmatism applies to pedagogy: teachers and pedagogists may say whatever they want to say, but unless learners learn what they are taught, it is no good.

We should be critical about the modern analysis-synthesis approach of grammatical language teaching. But that doesn't mean to abandon grammar teaching. On the contrary, it means that teaching of grammar should be integrated with teaching of logic and rhetoric.

Integrative teaching of grammar, logic, and rhetoric may have been already meant when Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) or Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) was advocated. As I'm not interested in methodological arguments in language teaching because many terms are only ill-defined, I don't know (or care) if CLT or TBLT has successfully revived the trivium (again, "CLT" or "TBLT" is too general and vague for rigorous discussion and our practice of language teaching is too complex for rigorous discussion). But my point is to pay due attention again to logic and rhetoric in language teaching. Grammar is of use only when the thought is logical and expressed effectively.


Interest in rhetoric, as you know, resurged after the publication of Metaphors We Live By. Rhetoric and logic seem to be more related than we previously thought. I'd like to continue to develop my theoretical understanding of rhetoric, but at the same time, I'm interested in specific language uses of rhetoric as are exemplified in such a book as Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

J. Williams & G. Colomb (2010) Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

[This article is for the students of my writing class (14:35-16:05, Fridays from October 7, 2011 - February 10, 2012, at K102. Note: A special class will be held on Tuesday January 10, 2012 (14:35-16:05, K102). There will be no class on December 23 or January 13.]

By way of greeting, allow me to explain the cost of college education.


Before you obtain the textbook, you're advised to read my Japanese essays on writing.

George Gopen & Judith Swan
The Science of Scientific Writing

― 「は」の文法的・機能的転移を中心に ―

Read the following essay as well. It explains why I chose the textbook we'll use in this class.

Teaching grammar in close relation to logic and rhetoric

There are a number of good books on writing available in Japanese.

You may want to refer to the page below occasionally as you struggle to write academically.


You may also remind yourself of the importance of English proficiency on the web.
英語教師のためのコンピュータ入門 (2011年度)


Williams and Colomb are two of the authors of The Craft of Research, the textbook I always recommend to my students. Read their interview.


p. X

Task (T): Read out first paragraph of the section of "PRINCIPLES, NOT PRESCRIPTIONS".

Question (Q): Why is slow writing important?

Q: Are you to write slowly when you draft as well?

Lesson 1
Understanding Style

Note: Because Chapter 1 is an introduction, you don't have much writing tasks. Patience please for those of you who may want to complain about this as the class is a writing class; you'll have plenty of writing tasks in the following tasks.

p. 1

Q: What do the authors want to show by the first example sentence?

p. 2

Q: What are bureaucratese, legalese, academese? What do the authors think about these language use?

T: Read out the two example paragraphs.

Q: What is the self-contradiction that George Orwell made?

p. 3

T: Read out the third example paragraph (from the New York Times).

Q: How does the writer for the New York Times convey the tone of sarcasm?

T: Read out the last two example paragraphs. Compare the two and discuss the difference. (Please remember that you often find it difficult to study not from the lack of intelligence on your side but from the lack of editing skills on the side of the writer).

p. 4

Q: What does Michael Crichton say? Do you agree with him?

Q: Do you share the sense of inhibition of the second paragraph of the section?

Q: What is the meaning of the next quotation?

Our own writing always seems clearer to us than to our readers, because we read into it what we want them to get out of it..And so instead of revising our writing to meet our readers' needs, we send it off the moment it meets ours. (p. 4)

Note: "read into"

(tr, preposition) to discern in or infer from a statement (meanings not intended by the speaker or writer)

p. 5

Q: Why is it important to put your thoughts on the page? (Please remember the importance when you write a thesis in the near future.)

Q: How are writing (for the first time) and rewriting different?

p. 6

T: Elaborate the next quotation.

So use what you find here not as rules to impose on every sentence as you draft it, but as principles to help you identify sentences that might give our readers a problem, and then to revise them.


A principle internally motivates you to do the things that seem good and right. People develop principles by living with people with principles and seeing the real benefits of such a life.

A rule externally compels you, through force, threat or punishment, to do the things someone else has deemed good or right. People follow or break rules.

Because this class is about principles not about rules, I never mean to be too prescriptive. You are ALWAYS encouraged to ask questions or raise objections.

Q: Would you agree with the authors when they say "no one learns to write well by rule, especially those who cannot see or feel or think." (p.6)?

p. 7

Q: What is the meaning of the next quotation? Elaborate the idea.

Essentially style resembles good manners. It comes of endeavouring to understand others, of thinking for them rather yourself -- or thinking, that is, with the heart as well as the head.
-- Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Note: "On Style" by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch is available:

Lesson 2

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 8

Q: What are the differences between 1a and 1b? State specifically.

p. 9

T: Explain "the most general principle for clear sentences" by using 2a.

p. 10

Q: What is the common characteristic of verbs used in 2a?

p. 11

T: Read out 3a and 3b and feel the difference.

The video below is for fun (There's a 10 second advertisement first.)

Q: After you felt something, compare 3a and 3b to discuss the differences.

T: Compare the length of subjects in 3a and 3b and discuss its implications.

T: Compare 4a and 4b and state the difference.

p. 13

Q: What is nominalization?

p. 14

T: Explain the procedure of Diagnose-Analyze-Rewrite with your own words.

p. 15

Q: What is the "empty verb"?

pp. 15-16

T: Explain the five common patterns with your own words.

p. 16

Q: What is the common feature among the first three common patterns?

pp. 17-18

T: Explain the four happy consequences with your own words.

pp. 18-19

T: Explain the four cases of useful nominalizations with your own words.

p. 19

Q: Why is nominalization of the verb not recommended in "She impressed me when she admitted her guilt."

T: Discuss the implications of Hamlet's remark: "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." (Hamlet, 3.2)

Lesson 3

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 20

Q: Why do most readers find 1a easier to read than to read 1b?

p. 21

Q: What is the difference between subject and character?
You may want to refer to this account:

Q: Why is 1c difficult to read?

Q: Why is the sentence "There was fear that there would be a recommendation for a budget reduction" not a good sentence?

p. 22

T: Explain the procedures 1 to 3 in your own words.

p. 23

T: Compare the two sentences about theology carefully and specify the changes made in the second sentence.

Q: Think of possible interpretations of the ambiguous sentence: "A decision was made in favor of doing a study of disagreements."

p. 24

T: What are the problems of the choice of pronouns in the second example?

T: Compare the first and the third examples. Which is easier for you to read, and why?

p. 25

Q: Why is the nominalization "studies" in the first example considered OK?
Q: What are, then, the problems of the nominalizations in the second example?

T: Compare the second and the third examples carefully and discuss the differences (and the effects they make).

p. 26

T: Summarize the argument of the first paragraph.

Q: What are "virtual characters" in the box?

Q: What does the box say about the cases where "the hidden characters are 'people in general'"?

Q: Do you often worry about the choice of subject when you write in Japanese?

pp. 26 - 27

T: Explain the difference between Active and Passive in your own words.

Q: What is the authors' unique definition of a passive sentence? [Note: Since their definition is rather idiosyncratic, you don't have to worry too much about this. But you have to understand what they mean.]

p. 28

T: Elaborate Point 1 in your own words.

pp. 28-29

T: Carefully compare the first example on p. 28 and the second one on p. 29 and explain Point 2 in your own words.

p. 29

T: Compare the three examples and explain Point 3 in your own words.

Regarding Points 2 and 3, read the following short Japanese article:

p. 30

Q: What do the two examples at the bottom of the page demonstrate?

p. 31

Q: With what type of verb do academic authors use the first person? Why is that?

Q: What is "metadiscourse"?

Cf. What is "discourse," in the first place?

Or "meta"?

Q: What is the point of using metadiscourse?

Q: With what type of verb do academic authors NOT use the first person? Why is that?

p. 32

Q: What are the implied subject and the explicit subject of the sentence: "To determine the effect, preparations of the devices were added."

Q: The following sentences are examples of dangling modifiers. Explain what they are.

Turning the corner, a handsome school building appeared.

Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.

Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.

To improve his results, the experiment was done again.

IMPORTANT: The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University is one of the best online resources available for writing in English. Bookmark the site on your browsers.

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University

p. 33

Q: Summarize the description of the box.

Q: What are problems of a long compound noun phrase such as "childhood thought disorder misdiagnosis"?

Q: What is the authors' opinion of the claim by some grammarians that we should never modify one noun with another?

p. 34

Q: Why is "thought disorders" lumped together in the first example.

Q: What do you think of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's remark.

Whatever if translatable in other and simpler words of the same language, without loss of sense or dignity, is bad.

Lesson 4
Cohesion and Coherence

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

pp. 35-36

T: The authors say that while 1a seems "choppy" 1b "hang together better." Compare 1a and 1b carefully and pick up expressions that support their contention.

Q: What is cohesion according to the author?

Q: What is coherence according to the author?

Cf. Cohesion is usually defined in linguistics as follows:

Cohesion is the grammatical and lexical relationship within a text or sentence. Cohesion can be defined as the links that hold a text together and give it meaning. It is related to the broader concept of coherence

There are two main types of cohesion: grammatical, referring to the structural content, and lexical, referring to the language content of the piece. A cohesive text is created in many different ways. In Cohesion in English, M.A.K. Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan identify five general categories of cohesive devices that create coherence in texts: reference, ellipsis, substitution, lexical cohesion, and conjunction.

Despite the difference between the definition by the author and the above one, it remains the same that coherence is a broader notion than cohesion.

Later, the authors define cohesion as "the sense of flow" (p. 36) and coherence as "the sense of the whole" (p. 40). These may be better definitions (or at least, simpler ones).

p. 37

T: Compare 1a and 1b in terms of the "sense of flow."

p. 38

T: Explain what the box says.

T: Explain Point 1.

p. 39

Q: Although the insertion of "Astronomers have reported" seems to contradict Point 1, the authors say that it is perfectly OK. Why?

T: Explain Point 2. (This is a very important point in writing, which is very often neglected by EFL learners!)

T: Explain what the paragraph above the box say. (Remember the saying, "The problem of a writer is that she knows about the subject too much.")

Q: What does the box say?

p. 40

T: Read the first paragraph and the following two indented parts and explain how coherence is different from cohesion.

Q: What does the example (that begins with "Sayner, Wisconsin...") demonstrate? (As a teacher, I often read a passage like this one. Such a passage is perfectly OK if it is spoken at a party, but does not make an academic paper.)

p. 41

Q: What is wrong with the first definition of subject?

Q: What is wrong with the second definition? Explain by using the four examples that follow.

p. 42

Q: Read the first example and why it feels "choppy."

T: Explain the procedures of Diagnose-Analyze-Rewrite.

p. 43

Q: What is throat-clearing?

Q: What is the problem of throat-clearing?

Lesson 5

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 45

T: What do you think is the most important part of the most important sentence of the first paragraph?

pp. 45-46

T: Describe how you feel as you read 1a and 1b respectively.

Q: Which do you like better, 2a or 2b? Why?

Note: Section of "Complex Meaning" (pp. 46-48) is to be omitted in the class because there are too many technical terms for EFL students. Personally, though, I recommend that you read through without using a dictionary.

p. 48

Q: What is the end of a sentence for? Pick up two items from the box.

T: Summarize the argument of the box.

p. 49

Q: What is the psychological subject? How is it from the grammatical subject?

Q: What is the stress here?

T: Compare the two sentences about global warming and describe the difference of the effects that they produce.

p. 50

T: Compare 1a and 1b and state which you think is the passage that blames the American president.

T: Elaborate this principle: Just as we look to the first few words for point of view, we look to the last few words for special emphasis.

p. 51

T: Explain the three tactical revisions.

T: Explain the six syntactic devices to emphasize the right words.

p. 52

Q: Isn't the expression "There are" rather empty? What function does it serve?

Q: Do you feel any difference between the two examples of Point 3 (What shift)?

p. 53

Q: Point 6 is really a "fine" point. Do you get the point?

p. 54

Q: Why do we think that 1b focuses more on two topics than 1a (on the previous page)?

T: Elaborate this principle: Put key words in the stress position of the first sentence of a passage to emphasize the ideas that organize the rest of it.

p. 55

T: Compare 1c and 1b and specify the differences.

p. 56

Q: Again, what is the difference between characters and themes?

T: Explain the meaning of the old German proverb "Begenning and end shake hands with one another" by relating it to the box.

Lesson 6

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 57

Q: Why does the first example sound redundant? Explain specifically.

Q: The second example is concise. But are there not any points in the use of the expressions taken away from the first example?

pp. 58-63

T: Explain the six principles.

Q: Do you know anyone that uses those listed verbs that are used "as uncousciously as we clear throats"?

Q: What are the doubled words?

p. 60

T: The last four lines of this page expresses what a principle (as opposed to a rule) is about. Explain.

p. 61


Please do not overgeneralize that those expressions on this page and others are always redundant and bad. There are some cases when a writer deliberately uses these expressions to make a special effect.

If you're sure that something is written by an experienced writer, you should assume that any expressions she used must have some purpose. This assumption is to be abondoned, though, when you are reading what is written by an unskilled.

Relevance Theory formalizes the principle of communication:

The core of the theory is the “communicative principle of relevance”, which states that by the act of making an utterance the speaker is conveying that what they have said is worth listening to, i.e. it will provide "cognitive effects" worthy of the processing effort required to find the meaning. In this way, every ostensive act of communication (that is the lexical "clues" that are explicitly conveyed when we speak/write) will look something like this:

1. The speaker purposefully gives a clue to the hearer, ("ostensifies"), as to what she wishes to communicate - that is a clue to her intention.

2. The hearer infers the intention from the clue and the context-mediated information. The hearer must interpret the clue, taking into account the context, and surmise what the speaker intended to communicate.


Q: Why is the affirmative more direct than the negative?

p. 62

T: Compare the next two sentences: "Do not translate a negative into an affirmative if you want to emphasize the negative" and "Keep a negative sentence if you want to emphasize the negative." Which is more emphatic?

p. 63

T: Learn the skill of deleting from the example. It'll be useful when you tweet.

Q: Again, what is metadiscourse?

p. 64

Q: Why do you think are the authors negative about metadiscourse that attributes your ideas to a source?

p. 65

Q: Do the authors suggest that we eliminate metadiscourse that announces your topic entirely?

Q: What is the hedge?

p. 66

Q: What does the first example ("There seems to be some ...) demonstrate?

Q: What does the second example ("This evidence proves ...) demonstrate?

Q: What is the function of a verb like suggest or indicate in an academic writing?

Q: The last example was written by Watson and Crick. What do you think about their expression? (You may compare their paragraph with the revised one on the next page.)

p. 67

Q: What is the intensifier?

Q: What is "the most common intensifier" according to the authors?

Q: What are the effects of the intensifiers used in the last example?

p. 68

Q: What is the opinion of the authors about the last example (with many uses of intensifiers) on the last page? Would you agree? (Please remamber that this book is not about rules but about principles.)

T: Summarize what the box says.

Q: What is the message of John Wesley?

I write for those who judge of books, not by the quantity, but by the quality of them: who ask not how long, but how good they are. I spare both my reader's time and my own, by couching my sense in as few words as I can.

Lesson 7

pp. 69-70

Q: How do you compare the original on p. 69 and the two revisions on p. 70?

p.  70

Q: Why does the second revision feel 'choppy'?

T:  Explain the humor of the last paragraph on p. 70.

p. 71

Q:  What are the three sources of 'a sense of shapeless length'?

T:  Elaborate the two rules of thumb: (1) Get to the subject of the main clause quickly; (2) Get to the verb and object quickly.

Q:  Of the four part from [ 1 ] to [ 4 ], which can be relatively long, and which cannot be long?

[ 1 ]  Subject  [ 2 ] Verb [ 3 ] Object [ 4 ] .

p. 73

Q:  How do you compare the last three example texts on p. 73?

p. 74

Q: Ask yourself: Do you have the two problems on p. 74?  I, as a writer in a language which is not perfectly of one's own, do, particularly when trying to condense a lot of thought into one sentence, which is meant to impress readers (though it doesn't), have, as you've already abundantly noticed, them.  :)

p. 75

T: Explain the exception at the top of p. 75.  (You'll use this exception rather often).

p. 76

T: Explain what the authors mean when they say "we can best manage complexity when we begin with something short and direct that frames the more complex information that follows."

p. 78

Four ways of reshaping sprawl are explained from this page: Cut; Turn subordinate clauses into independent sentences; Change clauses to modifyng phrases; and Coordinate.

Q: Which part of the sentence is to be cut?

You can change clauses to three types of modifying phrases: Resumptive modifiers; Summative modifiers; and Free modifiers.

p. 79

Q: What is the resumptive modifier?  (Note that a resumptive modifier can begin with a noun, adjective, verb or "one that.")

p. 80

Q: What is the summative modifier?  How is it different from the resumptive modifier?

Free modifier is generally known as 「分詞構文」 by Japanese learners of English.

p. 81

T: Coordination is often referred to as "parallelism."  In my opinion, this is one of the most useful principles for clear writing.  Explain by pointing to examples.

p. 83

Q: What is the principle you should keep when you find what you want to coordinate (or parallel) differ in length?

p. 84

Q: What are the four unifying principles: Subject-verb; Old-new; Point-explanation; and Short-long?  (You should learn to use these principles together when you can.)

Long sentences often contain faulty grammatical coordination, faulty rhetorical coordination, unclear connections, ambiguous modifiers, or dangling modifiers.

Q: What is the faulty grammatical coordination?

p. 85

Q: Is the nonparallel coordination to be avoided at any time?

p. 86

Q: What is the faulty rhetorical coordination?

p. 87

Q: What strategy can you use when you find it difficult to shorten the first half of the coordination?

T: Explain the ambiguity of "overtaxing oneself in physical activity too frequiently results in injury."

p. 89

T: Explain the meaning of a saying by John Stuart Mill: The structure of every sentence is a lesson in logic.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

B. Norton & C. McKinney (2011) An Identity Approach to Second Language Acquisiton

[This is one of the articles compiled for a class for my graduate students in the autumn/winter semester in 2011/2012.]

Bonny Norton & Carolyn McKinney (2011) An Identity Approach to Second Language Acquisition in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback,Kindle Edition ] (pp. 73-94)

Note: This article has much to share with Chapter 6 of Pennycook (2001) Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction. Routledge. [Paperback, Kindle Edition]

You may want to read my note for Chapter 6

It may be better, though, to read the following page to understand keywords including Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, Poststructrualism, and Foucault.

See the index page as well.

p. 73

Q: Summarize the first paragraph.

Q: What do the authors mean when they say "In this view, every time learners speak, they are negotiating and renegotiating a sense of self in relation to the larger social world, and reorganizing that relationship in multiple dimensions of their lives (p. 73)"?

p. 74

Q: Can you paraphrase Norton's three characteristics of identity: the multiple, non-unitary nature of identity; identity as a site of struggle; and identity as changing over time. Compare these characteristics with those that you associate with the concept of identity.

Q: What is psychometircs?

Q: What are instrumental motivation and integrative motivation (Gardner and Lambert)?

Q: What do you think of the following observations by Ushioda (Ushioda 2011)?

Simplifying somewhat, it is probably true to say that the study of language motivation over the past 40 years or so has been shaped by two successive though overlapping research traditions ? North American social psychology, and cognitive motivational psychology. Both traditions share a common root in psychometric approaches to the measurement of individual traits or differences. This means that they deploy measurement techniques and statistical procedures that make certain assumptions about the normal distribution of particular traits in a given population.

Ushioda (2011) "A Person-in-Context Relational View of Emergent Motivation, Self and Identity" in Dornyei, Zoltan; Ushioda, Ema (2011). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (Kindle Locations 4717-4721). Channel View Publications. Kindle Edition.

Let us consider, first of all, the role of context in models of motivation developed in the Gardnerian social-psychological tradition. In this connection, it is worth noting that, although we call it ‘social’ psychology, the focus in social psychology is on the individual (as social being), rather than on the social or cultural collective (as in sociology). As Dornyei (1999) points out, Gardner and Lambert’s (1972) original social-psychological model of L2 learning is essentially a theory of individual, rather than socially or culturally motivation; and social and cultural factors are reflected only through the individual’s attitudes, measured through self-report instruments. Although the influence of the socio-cultural environment is implicit in this and later versions of the model, in the form of ‘cultural beliefs’ in the social milieu which are assumed to shape an individual’s attitudes (Gardner, 1985: 146-147), the model sustains the basic Cartesian dualism between the mental and material worlds, between the inner life of the individual and the surrounding culture and society.

Ushioda (2011) "A Person-in-Context Relational View of Emergent Motivation, Self and Identity" in Dornyei, Zoltan; Ushioda, Ema (2011). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (Second Language Acquisition) (Kindle Locations 4741-4749). Channel View Publications. Kindle Edition.

p. 75

Q: What is investment (Norton Peirce, 1995)?

Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning
Author: Peirce, Bonny Norton
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 1, Spring 1995 , pp. 9-31(23)
Publisher: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)

The author argues that second language acquisition (SLA) theorists have struggled to conceptualize the relationship between the language learner and the social world because they have not developed a comprehensive theory of social identity which integrates the language learner and the language learning context. She also maintains that SLA theorists have not adequately addressed how relations of power affect interaction between language learners and target language speakers. Using data collected in Canada from January to December 1991 from diaries, questionnaires, individual and group interviews, and home visits, the author illustrates how and under what conditions the immigrant women in her study created, responded to, and sometimes resisted opportunities to speak English. Drawing on her data analysis as well as her reading in social theory, the author argues that current conceptions of the individual in SLA theory need to be reconceptualized, and she draws on the poststructuralist conception of social identity as multiple, a site of struggle, and subject to change to explain the findings from her study. Further, she argues for a conception of investment rather than motivation to capture the complex relationship of language learners to the target language and their sometimes ambivalent desire to speak it. The notion of investment conceives of the language learner, not as ahistorical and unidimensional, but as having a complex social history and multiple desires. The article includes a discussion of the implications of the study for classroom teaching and current theories of communicative competence.
(Download the paper (password will be requested))

Q: What is cultural capital? How is it different from economic, social and symbolic capitals?

Q: What did "silence" mean in Duff (2002)?

Q: How is investment different from instrumental motivation?

p. 76

Q: What could happen if a learner is "a highly motivated language learner, but may nevertheless have little investment in the language practice" (p. 76)? Do you think you've observed such cases?

Q: What are the imagined communities?

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New Edition)

Q: The authors argue: "These imagined communities are no less real than the ones in which learners have daily engagement and might even have a stronger impact on their identities and investments." (p. 76). Would you agree? Recall different types of persons you know and see if this observation applies to each one of them.

p. 77

Q: How the poststructuralist view of language different from structuralist view of language?

You can find some information on poststructulalism here
and on structuralism here

Q: Summarize the last paragraph on Bakhtin.

p. 78

Q: What did Bourdieu mean when he said "speech always owes a major part of its value to the value of the person who utters it" (1977, p. 652)? Would modern linguists agree with him?

Q: What are the implications of Bakhtin and Bourdiew on SLA theories?

p. 79

Q: What is the Foucauldian notion of subjectivity?

Foucault analyzes the discursive and practical conditions for the existence of truth and discursive meaning. To show the principles of production of truth and discursive meaning in various discursive formations, he details how truth claims emerge during various epochs on the basis of what was actually said and written during these periods. He particularly describes the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, and the 20th century. He strives to avoid all interpretation and to depart from the goals of hermeneutics. This does not mean that Foucault denounces truth and discursive meaning, but just that truth and discursive meaning depend on the historical discursive and practical means of truth and meaning production. For instance, although they were radically different during Enlightenment as opposed to Modernity, there were indeed discursive meaning, truth and correct treatment of madness during both epochs (Madness and Civilization). This posture allows Foucault to denounce a priori concepts of the nature of the human subject and focus on the role of discursive practices in constituting subjectivity.

Below are my blog articles on Foucault and other related topics.


Q: What is to "de-essentialize and deconstruct identity categories such as race and gender"?


Q: What are Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) and situated learning?

Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duality_(CoPs)

p. 81

Q: Elaborate the last paragraph.

p. 82

Q: What is the first assumption that the identity approach shares with such studies as qualitative approach, critical ethnography, feminist psotstructuralist theory, sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology? Explain.

Q: What is the second assumption?

Q: What is the third assumption?

Q: What does Pennycook (2007, p. 39) mean?

p. 83

Q: Would you agree with Pavlenko (2001b, p. 167)?

p. 87

Q: What is the difference between the identity approach different and the sociocognitive approach?

Q: What is the difference between the identity approach and the sociocultural theory (SCT) approach?

Q: What is the difference between the identity approach and the conversational analysis (CA)? (What is an emic understanding?)

Q: Q: What is the difference between the identity approach and the language socialization approach?

p. 88

Q: Do you think our identities are affected by the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT)?

p. 89

Q: Elaborate the last paragraph.

Q: Finally, what is your sense of identity? How would you describe your identity (or identities)?

You may want to read other works by Bonny Norton.

Identity and Language Learning

Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning

Researcher Identity, Narrative Inquiry, and Language Teaching Research
Authors: Norton, Bonny; Early, Margaret
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Volume 45, Number 3, September 2011 , pp. 415-439(25)
Publisher: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)

Whereas there has been much research on language and identity with respect to learners, teachers, and teacher educators, there has been little focus on the identity of the researcher, an important stakeholder in language education. Our research therefore addresses the following question: To what extent can narrative inquiry illuminate the ways in which researcher identity is negotiated in language teaching research? To address this question, we draw on a digital literacy study in multilingual Uganda to narrate how we engaged in our own storytelling, and the process by which we invited teachers to share their experiences of teaching through the medium of English as an additional language in a poorly resourced rural school. Central themes were our attempts to reduce power differentials between researchers and teachers, and our desire to increase teacher investment (Norton, 2000) in our collaborative research project. Drawing on numerous small stories (Bamberg, 2004; Georgakopoulou, 2006), we argue that several researcher identities were realized, including international guest, collaborative team member, teacher, and teacher educator. Our article supports the case that small stories enrich traditional narrative inquiry, both theoretically and methodologically, and make visible the complex ways in which researcher identity impacts research, not only in language teaching, but in education more broadly.
(Download (password will be required))


If you're interested, please read my essays as well.

"Where is Self, and what is it?" No, it's rather "How is Self?": Luhmann's theory of autopoiesis.

A summary of Damasio’s “Self Comes to Mind”