Re: [xmca] Sam I Am

From: Phil Chappell <philchappell who-is-at>
Date: Wed Jul 04 2007 - 19:11:27 PDT


I'm not sure that your characterisations are at all productive in the
current ELT climate - you seem to have undertaken the same kinds of
cultural stereotyping that critical applied linguists have been
seeking to avoid and rectifiy, although I'm sure that is not your

1) There is plenty of literature available that suggests many US
scholars are working with models of English that fit none of your
proposed categories.

2) The "Brits", and whoever you are referring to as a spokesperson
for them, are, I'm sure, quite aware of the immigrant population -
many from the countries where those "Brits" undertook colonisation
and imperialist practices in the first place. But *who* in Great
Britain doesn't consider the nation of Great Britain a "nation of
immigrants"? It's like saying that Australia does or doesn't see
itself as a nation of convicts. Stereotyping that helps push the
indigenous population and indigenous languages and dialects further
away from the public mind.

3) I haven't come across the model of English you refer to as
"English as a postcolonial language". There are plenty of people,
however, (many "local" teachers and linguists as well as sensitive -
and often insensitive - BANA people) attempting to shift the focus of
ELT pedagogy and linguistic modelling away from the BANA countries'
frameworks (British, North America, Australia) to one centred on
locally situated, socially, culturally and historically derived
educational practices. As Kumaravadivelu argues, rather than
importing ELT technologies that are only based on BANA sources of
knowledge, local knowledge and practices, often not found in BANA-
style academic journals or BANA-style conferences and congresses,
need to be privileged.

Agreed, the postcolonial world is a myth, but the postmethod world of
ELT is thriving (although unfortunately there are still way too many
untrained BANA people masquerading as teachers), without needing to
be categorised so rigidly in the either-or camps that you have
created. It's a profession struggling to gain and maintain
credibility and struggling with the fact that, for myriad reasons,
English has become an international tool (for thought??) that has new-
found cultural, economic and political responsibilities (see below).
If you haven't, you might read Alastair Pennycook's "English and the
Discourses of Colonialism: the politics of language" to find what
those who are *not* sitting in boardrooms and foreign offices and who
*are* in touch with classrooms are thinking.

"English, along with a small number of other languages in the modern
period, has expanded away from local through national to
international domains, changing significantly along the way. But the
changes are not simply those that take place in the normal course of
the history of a language; other changes come about as a language
takes on new cultural, economic and political responsibilities.
Critical moments occur when a language comes to be written as well as
spoken, and then when it comes to function as a standard language for
some sort of nation-state. In that socio-historical perspective
English is now acquiring a new identity as the global language of the
late capitalist world. Some of the consequences of this development
are beginning to show; but we have yet to find out what the long-term
effects are that arise when a language finds itself
globalized." (Halliday - paper attached for one linguist's brief
comment on English from a global perspective.)



On 05/07/2007, at 10:26 AM, David Kellogg wrote:

> Dear Mike:
> Oh, I'd be very happy to talk about our work on grammatical
> metaphor (which we call grammatical reification) in teaching
> science concepts. Alternatively, Yongho and I could do something on
> moral education. That's close enough to what you call bilingual
> education (I think).
> Let me give you the traditional distinction (traditional among
> applied linguists) and then tell you what I think is wrong with it.
> Usually, we distinguish between:
> a) ESL (English as a second language, as in immigrants learning
> English in the USA)
> b) EFL (English as a foreign language, as in Koreans learning
> English in Korea)
> c) EIL (English as an international language, which is what
> happens when a Korean uses English to run an "international"
> American based business in China or Japan: two "non-native
> speakers" using the language as an artificial lingua franca,
> unconnected to any foreign culture)
> Note that this is an AMERICAN view, because for the Brits, who do
> not see themselves as a nation of immigrants, the distinction is
> more like this:
> a) ENL (English as a native language: Britain, Australia, Canada...)
> b) ESL (English as a postcolonial language: India, Nigeria,
> Ghana, Jamaica)
> c) EFL (English as a marketable commodity: France, Germany,
> Greece, Spain, Japan, China, maybe Korea)
> As you can see, NEITHER view is really a sociocultural one; the
> American view simply organizes groups of learners according to how
> they are useful to American interests (immigrants, consumers, lower-
> level corporate personnel), and the British one is nakedly
> neocolonial. NEITHER view takes the culture of the LEARNER as
> primary, as the foundation on which new linguistic knowledge is to
> be laid.
> It's understandable that they don't do this: as soon as you start
> to do it, you realize that there is no realistic way to put, say,
> Finland and France in the same category, much less Finland and
> Korea. You also realize, by the way, that the "postcolonial" world
> is about as "post" as the postmodern world was; there is plenty of
> irony in the suffix, but in the end not much real detachment from
> the main modifier. Postcolonial ELT is really neocolonial in one
> form or another, designed to prosper in boardrooms and foreign
> offices and not in the classroom.
> My problem is more interesting. My students are preparing to be
> elementary school teachers, and English is just one hour out of a
> twenty hour curriculum in third and fourth grade, increasing to two
> out of twenty in fifth and sixth grade. It's a tough language, even
> in the rather simple classroom form that I've developed, and they
> are frankly not that interested unless:
> a) I can convince them that English is NOT a "second language" or
> a "foreign language" or even an "international language" but a
> living part of their curriculum, which will strengthen their
> children's grasp (and appreciation!) of their all-important mother
> tongue.
> b) I can convince them that there are GENERAL EDUCATIONAL
> PRINCIPLES underlying the teaching of English and, say, the
> teaching of science or maths or morals or even Korean.
> It's a hard sell. But there is ONE thing that usually clinches
> the argument. It's this: if we don't teach it, then private
> education will, and they will inevitably teach it as an import,
> something that is alien to our language, our culture, and our
> curriculum, a kind of McCommunication that emphasizes AMERICAN ways
> of using the language and being used by it.
> Let me just take a very concrete example that crops up the very
> first day of the very first class. What do the children call the
> teacher?
> In English, it would be "Miss Kim" or "Miss Park" or "Miss Lee",
> because of course most of the teachers are young unmarried women,
> and over half of them have one of these three names. This is,
> actually, what the teacher's guide recommends: But the children
> don't do this; they fall silent or even flatly refuse.
> They sense, correctly, that there is something dirty in these
> names (this is how American GIs referred to Korean prostitutes
> during the Korean war). Some of the children simply go on using the
> Korean term "seonsaengnim" ("nim" is an honorific that cannot be
> translated into English). Others say "Teacher Kim" or even "Kim
> Teacher".
> In private education, of course, schools hire "native speakers"
> who use their first names, "Call me David!". Fortunately, most of
> the children do not realize that this is what they are doing, since
> a Korean first name comes last, but this means that even at
> university level they don't really grasp the use of titles in English.
> My favorite solution comes from the Korean ABBREVIATION of
> "seonsaengnim", which is "Ssaem". One of my grads began a class with:
> T: Call me "Sam"!
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Wed Jul 4 19:13 PDT 2007

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