AUTHOR: Hall, Joan Kelly TITLE: Teaching and Researching: Language and Culture SERIES TITLE: Applied Linguistics in Action Series PUBLISHER: Pearson YEAR: 2011
Yumin Chen, School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun Yat-sen University, China Jingfeng Zhang, School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun Yat-sen University, China
SUMMARY This volume is the second edition of ‘Teaching and Researching Language and Culture’. It introduces and elucidates language teaching approaches and research methodologies from the sociocultural perspective. It provides readers and researchers with research tools they need in practice-oriented research. The new edition has been updated to include some new features, with special reference to the explanation of the influences of electronic technologies and globalization on the social context of teaching and researching.
This volume is organized into four sections. Section I, “Defining language and culture”, contains three chapters, in which the author lays out some major assumptions about the nature of language and culture from a sociocultural perspective. The introductory Chapter 1, “A sociocultural perspective on language and culture”, describes and traces the lineage of current perspectives on language and culture. Hall outlines how the pragmatically motivated study of social action advances our understanding of languages constructing sociocultural worlds. Chapter 2, “Language and identity”, uses the concept of social identity to demonstrate the mutual interaction between language use and identity. This chapter discusses in detail the importance of contextualization cues within Interactional Sociolinguistics (IS) in accomplishing communicative events, while acknowledging the criticism on the notion of contextualization cues. Additionally a growing focus on co-construction of identity is discussed based on the rise of global migration, which is a challenge to the study on the formation of hybrid social identities. Chapter 3, “Language and culture learning”, reviews the jointly constructed process of transforming socially-formed knowledge and skills into individual language learning abilities. The influences of globalization and new digital technologies on learning are also emphasized as difficult challenges for pedagogical research, thus “Language Classrooms as Fundamental Sites of Learning” is replaced by “Context of Learning” as the title of Section 3.3 in the new edition.
Section II, “Teaching language and culture”, examines current theoretical directions of work on language, culture and learning that inform pedagogical practices. Chapter 4, “The sociocultural worlds of learners”, points out that linguistic anthropology, particularly research on language socialization practices, connects learners’ sociocultural worlds to mainstream institutional settings. The sociocultural world fundamentally shapes learners’ language and cognitive abilities and cultural beliefs, rather than being a peripheral factor (Bongartz and Schneider 2003). In Chapter 5, “Language and culture of the classroom”, classrooms are characterized as significant sociocultural communities for learners. The pattern of classroom interaction might limit learners’ opportunities to engage in communicative activities. For the purpose of redesigning curriculum and instruction, two pedagogical approaches, i.e. Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Cooperative Learning Practices, are explained as to how they link teaching with learners’ social contexts . Chapter 6, “Language and culture as curricular content”, refines communicative competence and intercultural communicative competence, answering the question “where are we going?” inductively as to address the learning outcome. A number of pedagogical approaches are introduced, and it also points out the importance of developing in learners the cultural repertoire to engage into the mutually constructed social world.
The purpose of Section III, “Researching language and culture”, is concerned with current research on and approaches to the study of language and culture. Chapter 7, “The research enterprise”, discusses the foundations of research from the sociocultural perspective and with regard to methodological considerations. Talkbank, a worldwide interdisciplinary repository of databases, is recommended for its transcription standards and tools to process video data. How to balance the relationship with participants and research ethics is also stressed. The author provides a list of professional associations and government funding agencies that develop sanctioned guidelines and advisory sources of research ethics. Chapter 8, “Approaches to research on language and culture”, summarizes eight common approaches currently used by applied linguists, including ethnography of communication, interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, discourse analysis, systemic functional linguistics (SFL), critical discourse analysis, linguistic ethnography (LE) and micro-genetic approach. Two of them, SFL and LE, are new in this edition. Chapter 9, “Guidelines for doing research”, presents a set of guidelines for planning, conducting and evaluating research projects. The author reorganizes this chapter by dividing Section 9.1 of the first edition “introduction and research cycle” into two separate parts. Sections 9.2 to 9.7 of the first edition have been combined as the “The research cycle” as Section 9.1. Chapter 10, “Contexts of research”, provides a framework for conceptualizing research contexts to give readers a sense of how current undertakings in the field are conducted. Eight research projects are presented to inspire readers to undertake further research on their own. A pie chart of research contexts is also provided to help readers visually grasp the entire research scenario.
Section IV, “Resources”, provides a rich array of useful resources, including a list of key journals in the field, professional organizations of applied linguistics, and easily accessible web-based resources, along with suggested further readings and glossary of important concepts in the field, which are valuable to readers in carrying out their own studies.
EVALUATION This volume fits the series in which it appears and plays an important role in explaining the relationship between language and culture. It systematically lays out some major underpinnings of contemporary thoughts on language and culture as they bear on applied linguistics. Electronic technologies and increasingly diverse and complex communities pose challenges to teaching and researching language and culture inside and outside traditional classrooms. The author illustrates these phenomena throughout the book. In particular, Chapter 4 contextualizes how these two factors challenge educational approaches. Chapter 5 deals with how electronically mediated sites shape learners in social contexts. Chapter 6 points out that electronic technologies expand the scope of learners’ communicative activities and their resources to make meaning.
The author introduces some latest theoretical developments in language teaching and research in relation to cultural context. Some of the technical terms like “Project-based learning (PBL)” in Section 6.3.2 replaces “classroom-based social research (CBSR)” used in the first edition. CBSR is restricted to face-to-face contact, while PBL can also be used in online communication. Another addition is a fifth dimension to the multiliteracies pedagogy (Kalantis & Cope, 2008). Along with the existing four interrelated aspects (i.e. situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing and transformed practice), genre-based pedagogy (Christie & Martin, 2007) is considered a new dimension in multiliteracies pedagogy. Such work assists the continued development of models and strategies for implementing the analysis of multimodal discourses, and it also responds to the challenges created by emerging electronic modes of communication and the increasingly diverse populations of classrooms and sites of learning.
This volume is a tremendously valuable asset to the series ‘Applied Linguistics in Action’. It is presented in an accessible and easy-to-follow way with theoretical reviews, sample analyses and suggested further readings. Meanwhile it also suggests some potential research projects. It will be welcomed by established researchers as well as students of linguistics as one of the important handbooks on applied linguistics.
REFERENCE Bongartz, C. and Schneider, M. 2003. ‘Linguistic development in social contexts: A study of two brothers learning German’, Modern language Journal, 87:13-37.
Christie, F. and Martin, J.R. 2007. Language, Knowledge and Pedagogy: Functional Linguistic and Sociological Perspective, London: Continuum.
Kalantis, M. & Cope, B. 2008. Language education and multiliteracies, Encyclopedia of Language and Education, Volume 1: Language Policy and Political Issues in Education (2nd edn, pp.195-211), New York: Springer.
McDermott, R. and McDermott, M. 2009. ‘Quantitative and Qualitative’, Mind, Culture and Activity, 16: 203-208.
ABOUT THE REVIEWERS
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Yumin Chen is a lecturer in the School of Chinese as a Second Language, Sun
Yat-sen University. Her research interests include discourse analysis, and
Jingfeng Zhang is a post-graduate student in the School of Chinese as a
Second Language, Sun Yat-sen University. Her research interests include
applied linguistics, learning strategies for second languages and teaching
and researching language and culture.