Teacher Trainers in ELT

This blog is dedicated to improving the quality of teacher training and development in ELT.

 

The Teacher Trainers 

The most influential ELT teacher trainers are those who publish “How to teach” books and articles, have on-line blogs and a big presence on social media, give presentations at ELT conferences, and travel around the world giving workshops and teacher training & development courses. Among them are: Jeremy Harmer, Penny Ur, Nicky Hockley, Adrian Underhill, Hugh Dellar, Sandy Millin, David Deubelbeiss, Jim Scrivener, Willy Cardoso, Peter Medgyes, Mario Saraceni, Dat Bao, Tom Farrell, Tamas Kiss, Richard Watson-Todd, David Hill, Brian Tomlinson, Rod Bolitho, Adi Rajan, Chris Farrell, Marisa Constantinides, Vicki Hollet, Scott Thornbury, and Lizzie Pinard. I apppreciate that this is a rather “British” list, and I’d be interested to hear suggestions about who else should be included. Apart from these individuals, the Teacher Development Special Interest Groups (TD SIGs) in TESOL and IATEFL also have some influence.

What’s the problem? 

Most current teacher trainers and TD groups pay too little attention to the question “What are we doing?”, and the follow-up question “Is what we’re doing effective?”. The assumption that students will learn what they’re taught is left unchallenged, and trainers concentrate either on coping with the trials and tribulations of being a language teacher (keeping fresh, avoiding burn-out, growing professionally and personally) or on improving classroom practice. As to the latter, they look at new ways to present grammar structures and vocabulary, better ways to check comprehension of what’s been presented, more imaginative ways to use the whiteboard to summarise it, and more engaging activities to practice it.  A good example of this is Adrian Underhill and Jim Scrivener’s “Demand High” project, which leaves unquestioned the well-established framework for ELT and concentrates on doing the same things better. In all this, those responsible for teacher development simply assume that current ELT practice efficiently facilitates language learning.  But does it? Does the present model of ELT actually deliver the goods, and is making small, incremental changes to it the best way to bring about improvements? To put it another way, is current ELT practice efficacious, and is current TD leading to significant improvement? Are teachers making the most effective use of their time? Are they maximising their students’ chances of reaching their goals?

As Bill VanPatten argues in his plenary at the BAAL 2018 conference, language teaching can only be effective if it comes from an understanding of how people learn languages.  In 1967, Pit Corder was the first to suggest that the only way to make progress in language teaching is to start from knowledge about how people actually learn languages. Then, in 1972, Larry Selinker suggested that instruction on formal properties of language has a negligible impact (if any) on real development in the learner.  Next, in 1983, Mike Long raised the issue again of whether instruction on formal properties of language made a difference in acquisition.  Since these important publications, hundreds of empirical studies have been published on everything from the effects of instruction to the effects of error correction and feedback. This research in turn has resulted in meta-analyses and overviews that can be used to measure the impact of instruction on SLA. All the research indicates that the current, deeply entrenched approach to ELT, where most classroom time is dedicated to explicit instruction, vastly over-estimates the efficacy of such instruction.

So in order to answer the question “Is what we’re doing effective?”, we need to periodically re-visit questions about how people learn languages. Most teachers are aware that we learn our first language/s unconsciously and that explicit learning about the language plays a minor role, but they don’t know much about how people learn an L2. In particular, few teachers know that the consensus of opinion among SLA scholars is that implicit learning through using the target language for relevant, communicative  purposes is far more important than explicit instruction about the language. Here are just 4 examples from the literature:

1. Doughty, (2003) concludes her chapter on instructed SLA by saying:

In sum, the findings of a pervasive implicit mode of learning, and the limited role of explicit learning in improving performance in complex control tasks, point to a default mode for SLA that is fundamentally implicit, and to the need to avoid declarative knowledge when designing L2 pedagogical procedures.

2. Nick Ellis (2005) says:

the bulk of language acquisition is implicit learning from usage. Most knowledge is tacit knowledge; most learning is implicit; the vast majority of our cognitive processing is unconscious.

3. Whong, Gil and Marsden’s (2014) review of a wide body of studies in SLA concludes:

“Implicit learning is more basic and more important  than explicit learning, and superior.  Access to implicit knowledge is automatic and fast, and is what underlies listening comprehension, spontaneous  speech, and fluency. It is the result of deeper processing and is more durable as a result, and it obviates the need for explicit knowledge, freeing up attentional resources for a speaker to focus on message content”.

4. ZhaoHong, H. and Nassaji, H. (2018) review 35 years of instructed SLA research, and, citing the latest meta-analysis, they say:

On the relative effectiveness of explicit vs. implicit instruction, Kang et al. reported no significant difference in short-term effects but a significant difference in longer-term effects with implicit instruction outperforming explicit instruction.

Despite lots of other disagreements among themselves, the vast majority of SLA scholars agree on this crucial matter. The evidence from research into instructed SLA gives massive support to the claim that concentrating on activities which help implicit knowledge (by developing the learners’ ability to make meaning in the L2, through exposure to comprehensible input, participation in discourse, and implicit or explicit feedback) leads to far greater gains in interlanguage development than concentrating on the presentation and practice of pre-selected bits and pieces of language.

One of the reasons why so many teachers are unaware of the crucial importance of implicit learning is that so few teacher trainers talk about it. Teacher trainers don’t tell their trainees about the research findings on interlanguage development, or that language learning is not a matter of assimilating knowledge bit by bit; or that the characteristics of working memory constrain rote learning; or that by varying different factors in tasks we can significantly affect the outcomes. And there’s a great deal more we know about language learning that teacher trainers don’t pass on to trainees, even though it has important implications for everything in ELT from syllabus design to the use of the whiteboard; from methodological principles to the use of IT, from materials design to assessment.

We know that in the not so distant past, generations of school children learnt foreign languages for 7 or 8 years, and the vast majority of them left school without the ability to maintain an elementary conversational exchange in the L2. Only to the extent that teachers have been informed about, and encouraged to critically evaluate, what we know about language learning, constantly experimenting with different ways of engaging their students in communicative activities, have things improved. To the extent that teachers continue to spend most of the time talking to their students about the language, those improvements have been minimal.  So why do so many teacher trainers ignore all this? Why is all this knowledge not properly disseminated?

Most teacher trainers, including Penny Ur (see below), say that, whatever its faults, coursebook-driven ELT is practical, and that alternatives such as TBLT are not. Ur actually goes as far as to say that there’s no research evidence to support the view that TBLT is a viable alternative to coursebooks. Such an assertion is contradicted by the evidence. In a recent statistical meta-analysis by Bryfonski & McKay (2017) of 52 evaluations of program-level implementations of TBLT in real classroom settings, “results revealed an overall positive and strong effect (d = 0.93) for TBLT implementation on a variety of learning outcomes” in a variety of settings, including parts of the Middle-East and East Asia, where many have flatly stated that TBLT could never work for “cultural” reasons, and “three-hours-a-week” primary and secondary foreign language settings, where the same opinion is widely voiced. So there are alternatives to the coursebook approach, but teacher trainers too often dismiss them out of hand, or simply ignore them.

How many TD courses today include a sizeable component devoted to the subject of language learning, where different theories are properly discussed so as to reveal the methodological principles that inform teaching practice?  Or, more bluntly: how many TD courses give serious attention to examining the complex nature of language learning, which is likely to lead teachers to seriously question the efficacy of basing teaching on the presentation and practice of a succession of bits of language? Today’s TD efforts don’t encourage teachers to take a critical view of what they’re doing, or to base their teaching on what we know about how people learn an L2. Too many teacher trainers base their approach to ELT on personal experience, and on the prevalent “received wisdom” about what and how to teach. For thirty years now, ELT orthodoxy has required teachers to use a coursebook to guide students through a “General English” course which implements a grammar-based, synthetic syllabus through a PPP methodology. During these courses, a great deal of time is taken up by the teacher talking about the language, and much of the rest of the time is devoted to activities which are supposed to develop “the 4 skills”, often in isolation. There is good reason to think that this is a hopelessly inefficient way to teach English as an L2, and yet, it goes virtually unchallenged.

Complacency

The published work of most of the influential teacher trainers demonstrates a poor grasp of what’s involved in language learning, and little appetite to discuss it. Penny Ur is a good example. In her books on how to teach English as an L2, Ur spends very little time discussing the question of how people learn an L2, or encouraging teachers to critically evaluate the theoretical assumptions which underpin her practical teaching tips. The latest edition of Ur’s widely recommended A Course in Language Teaching includes a new sub-section where precisely half a page is devoted to theories of SLA. For the rest of the 300 pages, Ur expects readers to take her word for it when she says, as if she knew, that the findings of applied linguistics research have very limited relevance to teachers’ jobs. Nowhere in any of her books, articles or presentations does Ur attempt to seriously describe and evaluate evidence and arguments from academics whose work challenges her approach, and nowhere does she encourage teachers to do so. How can we expect teachers to be well-informed, critically acute professionals in the world of education if their training is restricted to instruction in classroom skills, and their on-going professional development gives them no opportunities to consider theories of language, theories of language learning, and theories of teaching and education? Teaching English as an L2 is more art than science; there’s no “best way”, no “magic bullet”, no “one size fits all”. But while there’s still so much more to discover, we now know enough about the psychological process of language learning to know that some types of teaching are very unlikely to help, and that other types are more likely to do so. Teacher trainers have a duty to know about this stuff and to discuss it with thier trainees.

Scholarly Criticism? Where?  

Reading the published work of leading ELT trainers is a depressing affair; few texts used for the purpose of training teachers to work in school or adult education demonstrate such poor scholarship as that found in Harmer’s The Practice of Language Teaching, Ur’s A Course in Language Teaching, or Dellar and Walkley’s Teaching Lexically, for example. Why are these books so widely recommended? Where is the critical evaluation of them? Why does nobody complain about the poor argumentation and the lack of attention to research findings which affect ELT? Alas, these books typify the general “practical” nature of TD programmes in ELT, and their reluctance to engage in any kind of critical reflection on theory and practice. Go through the recommended reading for most TD courses and you’ll find few texts informed by scholarly criticism. Look at the content of TD courses and you’ll be hard pushed to find a course which includes a component devoted to a critical evaluation of research findings on language learning and ELT classroom practice.

There is a general “craft” culture in ELT which rather frowns on scholarship and seeks to promote the view that teachers have little to learn from academics. Teacher trainers are, in my opinion, partly responsible for this culture. While it’s  unreasonable to expect all teachers to be well informed about research findings regarding language learning, syllabus design, assessment, and so on, it is surely entirely reasonable to expect the top teacher trainers to be so. I suggest that teacher trainers have a duty to lead discussions, informed by relevant scholarly texts, which question common sense assumptions about the English language, how people learn languages, how languages are taught, and the aims of education. Furthermore, they should do far more to encourage their trainees to constantly challenge received opinion and orthodox ELT practices. This surely, is the best way to help teachers enjoy their jobs, be more effective, and identify the weaknesses of current ELT practice.

My intention in this blog is to point out the weaknesses I see in the works of some influential ELT teacher trainers and invite them to respond. They may, of course, respond anywhere they like, in any way they like, but the easier it is for all of us to read what they say and join in the conversation, the better. I hope this will raise awareness of the huge problem currently facing ELT: it is in the hands of those who have more interest in the commercialisation and commodification of education than in improving the real efficacy of ELT. Teacher trainers do little to halt this slide, or to defend the core principles of liberal education which Long so succinctly discusses in Chapter 4 of his book SLA and Task-Based Language Teaching.

The Questions

I invite teacher trainers to answer the following questions:

 

  1. What is your view of the English language? How do you transmit this view to teachers?
  2. How do you think people learn an L2? How do you explain language learning to teachers?
  3. What types of syllabus do you discuss with teachers? Which type do you recommend to them?
  4. What materials do you recommend?
  5. What methodological principles do you discuss with teachers? Which do you recommend to them?

 

References

Bryfonski, L., & McKay, T. H. (2017). TBLT implementation and evaluation: A meta-analysis. Language Teaching Research.

Dellar, H. and Walkley, A. (2016) Teaching Lexically. Delata.

Doughty, C. (2003) Instructed SLA. In Doughty, C. & Long, M. Handbook of SLA, pp 256 – 310. New York, Blackwell.

Long, M. (2015) Second Language Acquisition and Task-Based Language Teaching. Oxford, Wiley.

Ur, P. A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge, CUP.

Whong, M., Gil, K.H. and Marsden, H., (2014). Beyond paradigm: The ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of classroom research. Second Language Research, 30(4), pp.551-568.

ZhaoHong, H. and Nassaji, H. (2018) Introduction: A snapshot of thirty-five years of instructed second language acquisition. Language Teaching Research, in press.

End of Year ELT Quiz

PART A: Who said

1.  I’m very aware that I fly far too much.  

  1. Sylvia Richardson
  2. Sandy Millin
  3. Donald Trump

2.  Things are getting better and better.

  1. Stephen Pinker
  2. David Nunan’s accountants
  3. Buckingham Palace

3. Language is the toolset of intelligent life.

  1. Nim Chimsky
  2. Jim Scrivener
  3. The Pope

4.  It’s essentially racist to imagine a group here and a group there who are essentially different to each other.

  1. J. Thribb (age 17)
  2. Christopher Columbus
  3. Adrian Holliday

5.  We should not expect research to have any necessary or close link with the activity of teaching.

  1. Boris Johnson
  2. Alan Maley
  3. Anthony Joshua

6.  General English Coursebooks are bland, unappealing, unchallenging, unimiginative, unstimulating, mechanical, superficial and dull. None of them is likely to to be effective in facilitating long-term acquisition.

  1. Brian Tomlinson
  2. John Soars
  3. Pearson Help line

PART B. Numbers

1.  How many levels are there in

  • the CEFR scale
  • the ALTE scale
  • the Pearson Global Scale

2.  How many empirical studies of language use were consulted in order to establish these scales?

  1. 50
  2. 100
  3. 1,000
  4. None

3. For each scale, which does this statement belong to: Can write letters or make notes on familiar or predictable matters

  1. A1
  2. A2
  3. B1
  4. B2
  5. C1
  6. C2
  7. I don’t understand the question

4. Which scholar has not criticised these scales

  1. Alderson
  2. Bachman
  3. Fulcher
  4. Long
  5. J. Thribb (age 17)?

5. How many lexical chunks do proficient users of English as an L2 need to know?

  1. 1,000 +
  2. 2,000+
  3. The ones Hugh Dellar picks

C  Grammar

1.  How many tenses are there in English?

  1. 4
  2. 3
  3. 2
  4. 1
  5. 0
  6. Other

2.  What is CxG?

  1. Z squared
  2. Jenkins’ Grammar for Construction Workers
  3. A folorn attempt to build grammar from putative learned pairings of linguistic forms with functions or meanings

3.  Is this a well-formed sentence: There are many different ways to teach English and places where it is taught. (J. Harmer, 2015).

  1. No
  2. If Harmer wrote it, it must be.
  3. The conjunction ‘also’ is missing.

D. Vocabulary

Readers are invited to add to this list of definitions from the BBC Radio 4 show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue:

Chairs – toast by the Queen

Childhood – young gangster

Delight – make things go darker

Extemporary – permanent

Fondue – affectionate sheep

Inhabit – dressed as a monk

Khaki – device for starting car

Laminated – pregnant sheep

Microbe – tiny dressing gown

Minimal – small shopping centre

Mucus – feline swear word

Negligent – Male lingerie

Overrate – nine

Paradox – two medics

Parasites – view from Eiffel Tower

Posterity – inherited botom size

Property – decent cuppa

Ramshackle – male chastity belt

Scandal – footwear to be ashamed of

Xenophobia – fear of Buddhists

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

ANSWERS: 

Part A

  1. Sandy Millin
  2. Stephen Plunker
  3. Jim the Man
  4. A. Halliday
  5. Alan Maley
  6. Brian Tomlinson

Part B

  1. 7; 7; 10 to 90
  2. None
  3. B2
  4. Thribb
  5. 2,000+

Part C

  1. 2
  2. 3
  3. You decide!

 

Against Intellectual Sloth, Part 2.

In Part 1, I looked at the first part of Dellar’s post Five things I’ve Learned from running-the “English Questions Answered” group, so as to comment on his claims about NNESTs. In this second part, I’ll look at the post as a whole.

The first thing Dellar learned was Language awareness is not something you’re born with. This invites the questions: What does “language awareness” refer to?; and: What’s the point of saying that it isn’t something you’re born with? Neither question is answered in the text.

The second thing he learned was Difference in meaning is inseparable from different usage. Again, we may ask: What does this mean? Following Widdowson (1979), a distinction is usually made between rules of usage (the rules for making language, i.e. syntax) and rules of use, which consider the communicative meaning of language. I presume Dellar just picked the wrong word, and is, in fact, referring to different uses. If he is, then the point seems to be that when trying to tease out the differences between closely-related words, it’s a good idea to not just look at dictionaries, but to “give examples of what the words are used to do – and to show the other words that often go with them”. I quite agree, and I’m sure you do too.

And I agree with points 3,4 and 5, too. Notions of correctness are more complicated that we may realise; some things are more worth worrying about than others; and tensions between descriptivists and prescriptivists remain high. Dellar’s remarks on all three points are reasonable enough, but his approach to the issues remains vague. In the case of notions of correctness, for example, Dellar says “we need to recognise and accept diversity and the fact that it’s often far easier to say what’s most normal than what’s ‘correct’”. OK, but how are teachers to decide the correctness or “acceptability” of particular sentences, or collocations, or pronunciation patterns? For example, when students ask “How do you pronounce the word ‘grass’?”, what should teachers say? Hugh says [gra:s] and Andrew says [græ: s]. Should teachers teach both? Or teach how they themselves pronounce it? Or use Jenkins’ ELF guide? Or assume that their students want to be taught British English RP / American Standard English? Similarly, Dellar chides “prescriptivist” teachers, but does little to address the frustration he admits they might feel when they’re told to be more “descriptive”. To say that “most of the old rules and generalisations remain”, but that we must consider emerging  “new norms” is not very helpful. What are the old rules and generalisations that teachers can continue to use, and how do teachers decide which new norms to incorporate?

Dellar’s reflections on the 2019 postings among his teachers’ group show his on-going confusion about language, and about language learning. The inability to distinguish between Hoey’s and N. Ellis’ use of the key constructs of priming and noticing is again in evidence, as is the habitual vagueness. In ELT, there’s no doubt that familiarity with formulaic language of all kinds, collocations included, is essential, but the vital question of how best to facilitate learning different kinds of formulaic language remains deeply problematic, as scholars including N. Ellis (2017), Long (2015), and, perhaps above all, Boers (e.g., Boers & Webb, 2018), all agree. Most importantly, they agree that trying to explicitly teach the thousands of “chunks” that learners need for a proficient use of English is quite simply out of the question; yet Dellar continues to extol teachers to do precisely that. He gives only the vaguest answers to questions such as: “What principles guide the choice of the chunks that we should teach? How can enough of these notoriously difficult-to-learn chunks be learned by students? What balance between explicit and implicit teaching and learning is required?” In this latest post, Dellar seems to prefer to muddy the water some more, rather than make the effort needed to address the issues.

References

Boers, F., & Webb, S. (2018) Teaching and learning collocation in adult second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 51, 77-89.

Ellis, N. C. (2017) Chunking. In Hundt, M., Mollin, S, and Pfenninger, S. (Eds.) The Changing English Language: Psycholinguistic Perspectives (pp. 113-147), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Long. M. (2015) Second Language Acquision and Task-Based Language Teaching. Malden, MA. Wiley.

Widdowson, H.G. (1979) Explorations in Applied Linguistics. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

 

Against Intellectual Sloth

Dellar’s latest post: Five things I’ve learned from running the ‘English questions answered’ group has been lauded without any attempt at a critical examination of its contents. Five points are made, and here, I’ll discuss the first one.

1. Language awareness is not something you’re born with.

Dellar begins:

In this day and age, it should hardly need stating that traditional notions about the relative merits of so-called ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ teachers are ridiculously outdated. It is impossible to tell from the language used by many of the most regular contributors whether English is their mother tongue or not. It’s also, of course, irrelevant.

I agree with the first sentence.

The second sentence carefully refers only to “many of the most regular contributors”, thus ignoring the fact that in other cases it is possible to tell from the language used by contributors whether English is their mother tongue or not. Here’s the sloth, the lazy generalisation that needs comment. And it isn’t mere nit picking. While, of course we should defend non-native English speaker teachers (NNESTs) against wrongful discrimination, we should do so with respect for the evidence. There are tens of thousands of NNESTs whose command of English is demonstrably excellent; and the arguments about the added qualifications which they bring to the job, including bilingualism, knowledge of local contexts, and often superior knowledge of English and of teaching methods compared to that of native speaker teachers are persuasive.

But these teachers are not completely representitive. More than 90% of those currently teaching English as a foreign language are non-native English speakers (British Council, 2015). Most of these NNESTs teach in their own countries, and the evidence suggests that many – probably a majority – of these teachers today don’t have the command of English required to teach the English courses set out in the national curricula, which increasingly focus on communicative language teaching (CLT). To take the example of China, studies by Zhang (2012), Chen and Goh (2011), and Yan (2012) highlight the teachers’ lack of proficiency in oral communication in English as one of the key factors impeding the successful implemenation of a CLT curriculum.

Similar results have been found in studies carried out in other countries. A 1994 study by Reves & Medgyes (cited in Braine, 2005) asked 216 native speaker and non-native speaker English teachers from 10 countries (Brazil, former Czechoslovalua, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Sweden, former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe) about their experiences as teachers. The overwhelming majority of the participants were non-native speakers of English, and in their responses, 84% of the non-native speaker subjects said that they had various difficulties using English and that their teaching was adversely affected by these difficulties. Difficulties with vocabulary and fluency were most frequently mentioned, followed by speaking, pronunciation, and listening comprehension.

No good comes from ignoring these facts. To skate so carelessly over the evidence surely harms more than it helps the cause of NNESTs , and it clouds more than it clarifies the complicated arguments involved in moving towards a better, more pluralistic view of the English language and of what should, and, should not, be taught in ELT.

References

Braine, G. (2005) A History of Research on Non-Native Speaker English Teachers. In: Llurda E. (eds) Non-Native Language Teachers. Educational Linguistics, vol 5. Springer, Boston, MA.

Chen, Z. and Goh, C. (2011)  Teaching oral English in higher education: Challenges to EFL teachers Teaching in Higher Education, 16(3), 333 – 345.

Yan, C. (2012) ‘We can only change in a small way’: A study of secondary English teachers’ implementation of curriculum reform in China. Journal of Educational Change, 13, 431 – 447.

Zhang, D. (2012). Chinese Primary School English Curriculum Reform. In Ruan, J. and  Leung, C. Perspectives on Teaching and Learning English Literacy in China. NY Springer

Atkinson’s Beyond the brain Essay

It is widely assumed that the cognitivist era is over in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) studies.

So begins the abstract of Dwight Atkinson’s (2019) article Beyond the Brain: Intercorporeality and Co-Operative Action for SLA Studies. Atkinson’s argument is that the cognitivist view of SLA is wrong, and that an examination of two books can help “point toward a noncognitive future for the field”. The first book is by Meyer, Streeck, and Jordan (2017), which “explores the consequences of being a body in a world of other such bodies, versus the cognitivist vision of disembodied mind/brain”. The second book is by Goodwin (2018), which “ develops and empirically illustrates a theory of social action wherein heterogeneous, multimodal cultural tools and practices including language combine, accumulate, and transform in moment-to-moment use”. Both books “view human existence and action as fundamentally “ecosocial”—embodied, affective, and adaptive to human and nonhuman environments”.

This quick post is limited to a single argument: Atkinson misrepresents the cognitivist view adapted by scholars in SLA and fails to appreciate their motivation. In the field of SLA, psycholinguistic research treats learning an L2 as an individual process going on in the mind of the learner. By limiting the domain in this way, scientific research is enabled. No researcher in this limited domain denies that other research – into the social domain of L2 learning, for example – has merit, or that novelists, artists and teachers, for example, might have a brighter light to shine on the still incomplete understanding we have of SLA. What the researchers believe, however, is that their scientific approach gets the best results.

Atkinson (2019, p. 725) starts by defining cognitive science.

The foundational assumption of cognitive science, according to Dawson (2013), is that “cognition is information processing (p. 4).

He goes on

More recently, three major developments— connectionism, cognitive neuroscience, and so- called 4E cognition—have enriched and complexified cognitive science. They have done so, I suggest here, without threatening its cognitivist core.

He then looks at the cognitivist “tradition” in SLA. He says:

When SLA studies ties itself directly to cognitive science or cognitive psychology (e.g., Ellis, 2019; Long, 2010; Suzuki, Nakata, & DeKeyser, 2019), when input, output, processing, and competence comprise default terminology in the field, or when a hard line is drawn between cognitive and social, cognitivist traditions endure.

But what justifies this tradition?  He asks:

(a) Biologically speaking, do our minds/brains not exist primarily to keep our bodies alive in dynamic environments—that is, for adaptive eco-logical action?

(b) Are human environments not furthermore pervasively social—that is, does our embodied adaptive action not depend  crucially  on social action and cooperation with others? and

(c) Is such social action/cooperation ultimately not what language and language learning are for?

And he concludes:

If these questions can be answered affirmatively, then cognition must be reconceived within dynamic ecosocial relations and action rather than as the ultimate source and outcome of human behavior, including language learning.

Expressed more rhetorically, to exorcise the cognitivist “ghost in the machine” (Ryle, 2009, p. 5) in SLA studies, should we not start putting “mind, body, and world back together again” (Clark, 1997, subtitle)?     

Atkinson thinks all three questions can indeed be answered affirmatively and, using the two books mentioned above, he offers “intercorporeality and co-operative action” as “theoretical alternatives to cognitivism”. He then suggests how SLA studies, still blighted by the cognitivist ‘ghost in the machine’ can be replaced by a view informed by “embodiment, affect, multimodality, adaptivity, and ecosocial action”.

Here’s a rough summary of the conclusions Atkinson reaches:

  • Giving affect-as-meaning deserves serious consideration when theorizing language learning and teaching.
  • Computers/ information processors are poor models for the active, ‘hyperprosocial’ (Marean, 2015), fundamentally affect-driven organisms that human learners are.
  • Learning is a product of affect, affiliation, identity, and shared meaning-making at least as much as it is of input frequency and/or conscious behavior. Thus, affect-loaded expressions—taboo words being paradigm examples—can be acquired on one or a few exposures, while plural-marking morphemes, article systems, and other formal grammatical machinery may never be.

 

All these conclusions can easily be accepted. They do almost nothing to challenge the work done by those working on a cognitivist theory of SLA – not even the second one. And if we look at the three questions Atkinson asks – “Do our minds/brains not exist primarily to keep our bodies alive in dynamic environments—that is, for adaptive eco-logical action”, etc., we can safely answer affirmatively without the slightest qualm.

Atkinson’s essay talks about cognitivism as a “tradition”, because his work is soaked in sociology. His appeal to the history of philosophy, for example, is socially informed and fails to appreciate the substance of the thought of those he cites. For example, nobody, but nobody, today, in the field of philosophy – and more particularly in the philosophy of science – gives any credence to a mind-body dualism: Atkinson’s use of other people’s use of Plato and Descartes is outdated nonsense. How long do we have to put up with those who challenge a scientific approach to SLA using this Ladybird summary of western philosophy, for pity’s sake.

Atkinson fails to address the use that a certain group of SLA scholars makes of cognitive science. The group, as he rightly says, includes those who fundamentally disagree about an explanation of SLA. Nativists of various hues, interactionists,  and emergentists, for example, can’t all be right, and they might well all be wrong, but their theories, which are all based on a psycholinguistic, cognitivist approach, need to be criticised properly, rather than dismissed because they don’t take the right stance towards the environment. Reconceiving cognition within dynamic ecosocial relations and action might produce interesting results, and good luck to those who want to try it, but it’s wrong to suggest that those involved in developing  a cognitivist theory of SLA see cognitive science as “the ultimate source and outcome of human behavior, including language learning”.  They don’t.

As Gregg (2010) says, cognitive science sees the mind as the object of empirical scientific inquiry. Cognitive scientists ‘carve nature at its joints’, in order to categorize the domain in terms of natural categories.  Cognition is located within the individual mind and cognitive science looks for natural categories, setting aside individual  differences that might accidentally differentiate members of the same category. That’s what cognitive science does, and it’s results are impressive and on-going.

References

Atkinson, D. (2019)  Beyond the Brain: Intercorporeality and Co‐Operative Action for SLA Studies. Modern Language Journal, 4, 724-738.

Gregg, K.R., (2006) Taking a social turn for the worse: The language socialization paradigm for second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 22, 4, pp 413-442.

 

I

TEFL Equity Advocates and the Marek Kiczkowiak Academy

Following accounts by anonymous members of the Marxist TEFL Group and by Kiczkowiak himself of what I said about him, here’s my side of the story.

In November 2017, I published this short post on my old blog:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

TEFL Equity Advocates: a conflict of interests

Every day on Twitter there are inspirational advertisements for the TEFL Equity Advocates.

They invite everybody to join in the fight against the discimination of NNESTs.

When you go the TEFL Equity Advocates web site, you see promotional stuff about training courses that Kiczkowiak runs or supervises if you click on the Webinars and TEFL Equity Academy options on the home page.

The just cause to stamp out discrimination against NNESTs should, in my opinion, be rigidly separated from Kiczkowiak’s attempts to sell his own stuff.

………………………………………………………………

42 comments were made.

Extracts from the Comments section

Kiczkowiak defended his actions, and I replied:

I think it’s wrong for you to use the TEFL Equity Advocates brand to promote your own teacher training courses because the former is a just cause and the latter is a private money making venture. There is the potential for you to take advantage of people’s interest in the just cause in such a way that your private training courses benefit. Note I say “the potential”. I’m not accusing you of anything, except perhaps poor judgement.  

I limit myself to saying that pages promoting your private teacher training courses appear on the Tefl Equity Advocates website and that you use the TEFL Equity Advocates logo to promote your courses on Twitter and Facebook.

In reply to Anthony Gaughan’s question about Nick Bilbrough’s Hands Up project I said:

If Nick uses sponsorship to finance his work for the charity, that’s fine, as long as there’s a proper contact that anybody donating money can see, and as long as he’s not lining his own pockets with money donated.

If Marek were to set up a charity, the same would apply. But he’s using the TEFL Equity Advocates brand to promote his own commercial, teacher training courses and he’s free to do what he likes with the money he makes from those courses. Whether or not he uses some of that money to finance his cause is not the point: it’s still unfair practice, in my opinion. He should call his academy the Marek Kiczkowiak Academy or something, and he should advertise his courses separately.

And in reply to Kiczkowiak’s request for me to explain what I meant by “conflict of interests”, I said:

In business, the issue of a conflict of interests is a common one. It arises when a person who has a public position in government or as head of a charity or non-profit making organisation also has personal interests which might benefit from his or her official actions or influence.

In this case, your position as founder of TEFL Equity Advocacy clashes with your personal position as a teacher trainer who advertises his courses on line. There is the chance that the goodwill created by the non-profit making TEFL Equity Advocacy activities will benefit your personal commercial interests. The TEFL Equity Academy, which can be accessed directly from the TEFL Equity Advocacy website, is a private business venture. Even calling it The TEFL Equity Academy seems to me to be wrongly taking advantage of a strong brand name of a non-profit making organisation.

How much would a teacher wanting to promote courses similar to the ones you offer have to pay to generate the amount of publicity and goodwill that you get from being associated with TEFL Equity Advocacy?

Russell Crew-Gee made this comment:

“Since then, it has grown to now feature a regularly updated blog, a job board, and most recently on-line teacher training courses on TEFL Equity Academy. Similarly to the rest of TEFL Equity Advocates activities, the aim of the courses is to further raise awareness of the profound ‘native speaker’ bias in ELT, and to give teachers the tools to overcoming it.”

The above quote is taken from the home page as displayed on my phone. As one can clearly see, the Academy is mentioned, as a link, on the opening page. Hence Geoff’s premise that the Academy is being promoted directly by the Equity Advocacy website is undeniable, a Factual Reality.

Near the end of the comments section, Kiczkowiak finally said “I do agree that clearing things up a bit is a good idea. Transparency is definitely the key”.  Changes then appeared in his website, but I invite readers to visit his website and to judge for themselves whether or not Kiczkowiak is using the logo and brand of TEFL Equity Advocates to promote his own commercially-run “academy”.

The Marxist TEFL Group

The Marxist TEFL Group’s aim is to persuade EFL teachers to fight for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a communist world order. They pursue their mission by writing illiterate posts on a blog, where garbled bits of Marxist dogma are mixed with personal attacks on those they identify as enemies of the working class.

Bad Writing 

Here are a few examples of the texts:

Trade unions have been treated as a residual element of society based on industrial relations of the past, to be tolerated but heavilly  constrained to ensure the dominant order functions.

We do not want to disappear too far into Marxist exegesis, ….

We wish to examine the limitations which such forms offer teachers looking to find alternative ways of exercising their trade.

the framework of liberation has been replaced by a co-option to hierachical, irrational, life-threatening and savagely cruel regime of accumulation. 

If the west didn’t need to be bombed and persecuted into accepting greater equality why would other countries and communities.

Paradoxically, the money they sent home and stories of another would also encouraged growth and stimulated language learning

This is not to say that key individuals (with their particular idiosyncrasies do not  shape history, rather that history (social relations) calls them forth and they play their particular part in their own distinctive style, and that these particular nuances can themselves help to propel history in certain directions and at certain speeds.

The writing is bad not just at the sentence level; entire sections of posts collapse into incoherence, while most posts lack the cohesion needed to make the texts easy to follow. And when, despite the awful prose, the argument is understandable, it often turns out to be wrong. Below I give just one example.

Bad Scholarship 

In a discussion of the differences between Proudhon and Marx, we read:

It is wholly understandable that Proudhon would develop a different view of the remedies towards inequality when looking at the problem from a different reality to Marx. 

What was the “different reality” from which Proudhon looked at the problem of “remedies towards inequalities”? It turns out to be the difference between the workshops that the two thinkers observed, and the way they analysed them. While Proudhon, according to the group, focused on the power which “private property (the ownership of the workshop)” gave its owners “to command the workers and live off their labour”, Marx looked at the growth of “the new factory system in Manchester, and “the changes this new system brought about, particularly a growing division between mental and labour labour, the increased division in labour of particular tasks, and the growth in supervision of those tasks”. The conclusion drawn is that

It is important therefore to distinguish between private property as a means to exploit workers and private property as the driver of this this exploitation.

First, the conclusion doesn’t follow, and second, the premises are false. “Property” in both Proudhon’s and Marx’s work is a construct referring to unpaid labour, not to the ownership of workshops. Furthermore, Proudhon identified surplus value production long before Marx, arguing that the worker is hired by the capitalist, who then appropriates their product in return for a less than equivalent amount of wages. Nearly thirty years later, in 1844, Marx states the same thing: property results from the capitalist’s appropriation of the unpaid part of the labour of the workers. Marx wrote:

Proudhon was the first to draw attention to the fact that the sum of the wages of the individual workers, even if each individual labour be paid for completely, does not pay for the collective power objectified in its product, that therefore the worker is not paid as a part of the collective labour power. (Marx & Engels, 1844; Chapter 4, Section 4.)

The accounts offered in the pages of this blog of social, economic and political history and of the works of Marx, Engels, Proudhon and others not only fail to meet elementary standards of writing, they also fail to meet elementary standards of scholarship or analysis. Any proper Marxist scholar would be embarrassed to read this stuff.

Bad Arguments 

Too often, the group base their criticism on personal attacks. For example, in a comment on their Strategy Paper Three, I remarked on their bad writing, corrected what they said I’d said about Marek Kiczkowiak and defended Scott Thornbury. The group’s (anonymous!) reply consists mostly of silly insults, starting with the suggestion that I’d got hold of the wrong end of the stick by assuming that the Strategy Paper was all about me. Next, they say:

We hear from the podcast that you believe too many people (I guess you mean working class) go to university and it should be restricted to people only as intelligent as yourself.

I said no such thing.  A bit later, they say:

 We quite understand teachers have to feed and clothe themselves …. That’s why your continued hypocrisy towards Marek Kiczkowiak is so unpleasant. Marek Kiczowiak promotes a co-authored book about teaching English as a Lingua Franca and training courses around this approach ….. and you accuse him of exploiting others.

This is a reference to a single post I wrote on my blog in 2017 pointing to a conflict of interests on Marek’s website. Marek defended his actions, made adjustments to his website and I’ve said nothing about it since. I’ve never accused him of exploiting anybody. Finally, they say:

You have worked … 25 years for an elite private business school (of course rich fee paying students are welcome to go to university but lumpens not) in Barcelona from where you flogged MA TESOL courses with the then manager. Where is your campaigning for equality? It appears you have dedicated your teaching life to promoting inequality. 

Equally childish and inaccurate are the hopelessly-written posts attacking Scott Thornbury (the distinction between “Thornbury the person” and “Thornbury the phenomenon” is particularly daft), but let’s move to the more serious issue of the posts on John Haycraft.

John Haycraft 

The group dedicates four posts to John Haycraft, co-founder of the International House chain of English language schools. While the group members have every right to be as critical as they like of Haycraft’s work, they should be ashamed of themselves for the personal attacks, insulting sneers, and pompous moral outrage which characterise these posts.

This is from Part 1:

For anyone in any doubt, Haycraft’s class position is perfectly demonstrated by the fact that, after his father’s death, he and his family were able to swan around Europe for 15 years on their father’s military pension. We can imagine few widows of British soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan being afforded the same priviledge today.

After his father’s death, John Haycraft, aged 3, and his brother were brought up by their mother, on what all the obituaries refer to as “a small army pension”. The writer of the post makes no attempt to find out how much money the family lived on; all that matters is to “perfectly demonstrate” Haycraft’s “class position”.  Additionally, the comment about widows of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is tastelees and offensive.

Here are two more extracts:

John Haycraft was part of a born-to-rule elite. While he didn’t enjoy the overt state backing of his father sent out to rule Indians through military might, or quite the imperial prestige of his Uncle Sir Thomas Haycraft, he did indeed fly the flag for the “Anglo-sphere”.

It is no happy accident that Haycraft’s brother was an important publisher and part of the art elite in the UK ……. While their position within the ruling elite is not as illustrious as their ancestors, they still had access to a wide range of elite contacts which helped them to becone the “self-made” men I am sure they both believed they were.

Again, no attempt is made to give an honest description of Haycraft’s circumstances. His life bears little resemblance to his father’s or his uncle’s, or his brother’s, but never mind, the important thing is to establish his membership of a born-to-rule elite. (1)

This sets the tone for the four posts on Haycraft, which are littered with personal jibes, mostly related to his class background, and loose accusations which are not properly researched, or fairly stated. When a link to the first of these posts was put on Twitter, a teacher who read it responded:

“Wow! What an ugly read!” 

The teacher added in a second comment:

Ugly in content, tone, intention, writing, formatting and even editing /proofreading.

Amen to that.

Note

1 The group have only good things to say about George Orwell (Eric Blair), who was also born in India, twenty years before John Haycraft. Orwell’s father worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. His great-grandfather, Charles Blair, was a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset who married Lady Mary Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, and had income as an absentee landlord of plantations in Jamaica. The Marxist Group seem in less of a hurry, when citing Orwell, to perfectly demonstrate his class position.

Reference 

Marx, K. & Englels,F. (1844) The Holy Family.  Downloable from  https://marxists.catbull.com/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_The_Holy_Family.pdf

Adrian Holliday: Who’s a Racist?

There’s something about the tension betweeen academics involved in the separate fields of sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics that smacks of C.P. Snow’s stuff about two cultures. The difference is that the current academic discourse of sociolinguists who adopt a postmodernist approach is often overtly moralistic. As an example, we have Adrian Holliday, who accuses his opponents of using terms like native speaker to prop up neoliberal ideology, and, most seriously of all, perhaps, of being racists. Let’s see how Holliday does this.

In the field of intercultural communication studies, Holliday explains that postmodernists favour a relativist epistemology based on constructivism. A relativist epistemology means that there’s no such thing as an observable external reality: everything we think we know is relative to our social and historical context. Constructivism involves talking about the things under investigation in terms of socially relative ‘constructions’ – see Guba & Lincoln (1994). (Note that Holliday, in his published articles, often claims that Kuhn’s work underpins his approach. This claim misrepresents Kuhn and ignores Kuhn’s repeated statements that under no circumstances should The Structure of Scientific Revolutions be seen as giving support to relativist views.)

Moving on, qualitative research and ethnography is the way to understand intercultural communication, but it must be freed from all positivist “solidity”. Breaking down barriers between the researcher and what’s being studied is a good thing because “researchers are implicated in subjectively co-constructing meaning with the people they research”. Cultures are seen as ‘socially constructed’, ‘imagined’ and ‘liquid’. In opposition to the postpositivist approach, Holliday wants to assert that “people are all the same”, just “brought up in different circumstances”, and he advocates the use of “inclusive narratives of cultural resonance” to explore how “people brought up in different circumstances” communicate with each other.

Meanwhile, the bad academics, the positivists (and now the postpostivists too, who get the brunt of Holliday’s attack) adopt a realist epistemology, which makes the outlandish assumption that a stable world exists exterior to us, and is objectively describable in terms of measurable, emprical observations. When postpositivsts talk about intercultural communication, they use “grand narratives” which “fix” things in “The Centre”, and this “blocks” your ability to be in a liquid “third space”. The postpositivists use methods which attempt to sample, triangulate and objectively represent “large cultures” by means of “presumed researcher-neutral interviews and observations”. Such an approach allows for “a technicalized commodification of methods that satisfies the current needs of the neoliberal university”, but sacrifices “the epistemology of the intersubjective ethnographic project for the sake of an illusory methodological certainty”. Most importantly, perhaps, Halliday says that the postpositivist paradigm leads to “false cultural profiling “ and to racism: “the essentialist Othering of large cultural groups” is racist.

In a presentation at the 2nd International Symposium on Language Learning and Global Competence (2019), Holliday explains the key term ‘essentialism’. I invite you to watch the video, starting at minute 16, when he says:

Essentialism is to do with ‘Us-Them’ discourse. ‘They’ are essentially different to ‘Us’ because of their culture…… There’s no way we can be the same. There’s something absolutely separate about us and them. …….Culture then becomes a euphemism for race. It’s essentially racist to imagine a group here and a group there who are essentially different to each other. That is the root of racism…….. Any group who is put over there and defined as being different to you, that is the basis of racism.

The question is, of course: to whom is Holliday attributing this essentialist, racist line of thought? At times, he seems to think that just about everybody – even he himself in unguarded moments – thinks like this. At minute 18 in his talk he says:

 Grand narratives define us and them by fixity and division. We are different to those people, we have to be in order to survive. .. You brand your nation as being different to those people, in a superior or inferior way.

He then gives the example of a Chinese student of his who told him he’d turned down a fantastic job in Mexico. Why? asked Holliday. “Beecause Mexico is not as good as Britain” came the reply. Holliday continues:

He had a hierarchy in his head. I challenge everybody in this room …. We all position ourselves …There’s no such thing as talking about culture in a neutral way; we just cannot. Everybody is positioning themselves in a hierarchy.

We then get another example. Holliday says:

I remember a long time ago I was in Istanbul interviewing colleagues. We were sitting right on the Bosphorus. And everything that was East was inferior, and everything that was West was superior. This came out, very very clear; very very clear. Even inside Turkey. Yuh.       

It’s worth wathching Holliday as he says all this. It’s like he can hardly believe how terrible it all is himself, but it’s his duty to bring the full horror of it all to our attention. And well, yes, if it’s as bad as he says it is, then maybe we all need to go into therapy with savants like him. Maybe that’s the only way to avoid falling into the inevitable trap of talking about culture in a way that reveals you to be a racist.

But what if you snap out of Holliday’s world for a moment and allow yourself to entertain positivist thoughts about rational argumentation? What if you go even further into the badlands of positivism and ask for evidence? How does Holliday know all this stuff about what people are thinking? And who actually makes this “essentialist statement” that ‘They’ are essentially different to ‘Us’? Let’s suppose that we ask a group of applied linguistics academics, all born and raised in France, all adopting a realist epistemology, and all doing quantitative research, to watch a film about life in Beijing where the locals are shown working and playing and doing the everyday things they do. Holliday tells us that, as positivists, they will all think, consciously or not, “Those people are essentially different to us. There’s no way we can be the same. There’s something absolutely separate about us and them”. If we ask them if they had such thoughts and they vigorously deny it, then what? Should we believe them, or should we accept Holliday’s assertion that “really” that’s what they thought because as positivists they couldn’t help themselves? In other words, do we accept Holliday’s argument that they were absolutely bound to have those racist thoughts because it follows inexorably from his definition of essentialism and his equation: positivism = essentialism?

Likewise, when Holliday says we simply cannot talk about culture without positioning ourselves in a hierarchy, what is the status of that assertion? Is it supported by any evidence, or is it the result of an empty circular argument; some sort of inivetable, inescapable conclusion which follows from the premise that positivism = essentialism? To take some more examples,

  • How does Holliday know when people are imagining “a group here and a group there who are essentially different to each other”? Does he have some special antenna, like a built-in lie detector, or it a necessary consequences of talking about “large cultures”?
  • How does he know when people put a group “over there” and define them as being different to us? Where is “over there”?
  • How does he know that his Mexican student had a hierarchy in his head?
  • How can he report with such certainty that when he was sitting there with his Turkish colleagues, all of them without exception thought, precisely, that everything to the East of Istanbul was inferior, and everything to the West was superior?

I’m struck by the conviction with which Holliday delivers his assertions. Watch him in the video as he waits for his audience to take in the full purport of what he’s saying. He seems to think that he sees everything much more clearly than normal people; in his case, thanks to looking through his polished, specially-ground  postmodernist lens.

Not only does his postmodernist approach allow Holliday to interpret our behaviour so sagaciously, it also helps him to understand that “the technicalized commodification of methods are implicit in the neoliberal agenda of the university sector”, and that, more generally, “grand narratives of nation, language, and culture are ideologically constructed. They come from politics”. He doesn’t feel the need to explain, for example, precisely how all grand narratives about language come from politics, and that’s because if we find a narrative that doesn’t obviously come from politics (all languages share a deep grammar, for example), then it’s not a grand narrative. Making things so by definition and then adding a few very personal, very meaningful anecdotes suffices to drive home necessary truths. Holliday stands on a soap box and preaches. He’s a crusader, out to save us all, and his postmodern armour protects him from silly demands to explain more carefully in plain English what he’s talking about, or to provide reliable evidence for his assertions.

This crusading conviction is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than when Holliday gets on his Native Speakerism hobby horse. There’s no such thing as a native speaker, and that’s that. All talk of native speakers, Holliday insists, is “the voice of the ideology of native speakerism”, where “culturally superior native speakers teach the non-native-speaker-cultural-others how to think and be civilised”. While people continue to “build their careers on comparing native speakers with non-native speakers without realising the politics behind it”, Holliday proudly delares that he bravely refuses to review any journal article using the acronyms NS and NNS.

As Widdowson (1995) made clear in his discussion of critical discourse analysis, Fairclough is “committed” to reveal the impositions of power and idealogical influence. Holliday is likewise committed. Having shown to his own satisfaction that positivists (including people like Mike Long who are dedicated anarchists) adopt a neoliberal ideology, he sees his job as sniffing out neoliberal ideological content – including racism – in their work, exposing it, and recommending an alternative approach based on denying the possibility of objective knowledge. Holliday, the academic, is committed not just to a qualitative, ethnographic methodology, not just to a constructivist epistemology, he’s also committed to stamping out racism, any mention of native speakers, and lots more injustices besides. However laudable such an agenda might be, it limits the scope of Holliday’s descriptions to a single, preferred interpretation. Holliday sees the world from a very particular point of view. Ironically, it is not just partial, it is also ideologically committed, and thus it’s as prejudiced as any other. So, to borrow from Widdowson again, what Holliday offers is interpretation, not analysis.

It’s precisely the attempt to remain objective which characterises the agenda of those academics working in the field of applied linguistics who Holliday so roundly dismisses. Regardless of their political opinions (and many will share Holliday’s views on the commodification of education, the exploitation of NNS teachers, and so on), these academics see quantitative data, triangluation, replication studies, etc., coupled with standards of clear, coherent, cohesive texts, as important ways to ensure that the phenomena under investigation are described and explained in such a way that the academic community can scrutinise, critique and improve those descriptions and explanations. I accept that the field of intercultural communication is one where qualitative methods and ethnographic studies might be particularly suitable. I accept that “nation” is particularly laden with ideological stuff which needs very careful handling. But I question the jargon-ridden prose Holliday writes; the circular arguments he makes; and his suggestion that any academic comparing British to Chinese culture, for example, is in great danger of giving expression to racism. Such sweeping generalisations, built on incoherent constructions like ‘essentialism’, need calling out.

References

Holliday, A. and MacDonald, M. (2019) Researching the Intercultural: Intersubjectivity and the Problem with Postpositivism. Applied Linguistics. Free to download here:  https://academic.oup.com/applij/advance-article/doi/10.1093/applin/amz006/5370651

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994) Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105-117). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  Free download here https://eclass.uoa.gr/modules/document/file.php/PPP356/Guba%20%26%20Lincoln%201994.pdf

Widdowson, H. (1995) Discourse Analysis a critical view. Language and Literature,, 3, pp 157 – 172.