LING-748 The Sociopolitics of Language Learning
Spring for 2017-2018
This course explores sociopolitical issues in the learning, teaching, and use of second languages. In other words, it focuses on how the development and use of multilingual repertoires are connected to power. Sociopolitical factors, like identity, ideology, and inequality, have received a great deal of recent attention with the emergence and reexamination of research on topics like heritage language learning, bilingual education, the global spread of English, education for immigrants, and language policy. We will pay special attention to these areas, but we will also examine how these concepts are connected to language learning in any context. In particular, we will explore questions like:
• How do sociopolitical factors (such as identity, ideology, and inequality) compel people to learn multiple languages?
• How do sociopolitical factors influence which language(s) people choose to learn?
• How are sociopolitical factors connected to what we define or perceive as “successful” language learning?
• How do sociopolitical factors enable or constrain people in acquiring a language outside of formal educational contexts (in other words, in naturalistic settings)?
• How do sociopolitical factors enable or constrain people in accessing language instruction?
• How do sociopolitical factors help some people and hinder others in settings of formal language instruction?
• How are sociopolitical circumstances reproduced, reinforced, or resisted by formal language education (for example, in language classrooms or in language learning materials like textbooks)?
We will read a selection of recent works in applied linguistics from a variety of established and emerging approaches including linguistic anthropology, critical discourse studies, and educational linguistics. Students will lead discussions and complete an original research project.
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