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[Xmca-l] Re: Jang's SL Article Discussion

Hi again, 

one thing that I find interesting in Jang's article, and which may connect to comments in the other thread (by David, Haydi...) concerning 'not reducing the political to the personal',  is the issue of *ideology.* In particular, Jang discusses and empirically examines what she coins as a *Prescriptive* language ideology. As she describes in her paper, and as any educator will immediately recognise, this ideology exists as the classroom's orientations to a correct/incorrect form. In her article, she exhibits this through a number of sequences in which teacher-student and student-student relations involve *evaluations* with regard to proficiently using two rules: making connections between sentences and staying on the topic. 

As Jang shows, the prescriptive approach, which sets the final linguist form as the criterion for positively or negatively evaluating any response by any student, is such that more proficient readers/speakers will have easier access to positive evaluation. The ideology here then exists as a regime of power and differential access, of inequality. By treating all equally, we get to inequality. 

I was thinking that it seems that the prescriptive approach does focus on the final product, whereas the sociocultural approach that Jang pursues and Vygotsky first set forth has it that we should not focus on the final product but on its genesis, on the way the verbal form exists first as a social relation between people. Thus, in Episodes 1 and 2 in the article, if the participants had oriented towards a possible process of development, Ji-Woo's responses would have been heard and responded to as moments in a developmental trajectory. There would have been a very different social situation in which work would have been directed to make visible and available the dynamics of Ji-Woo's learning process. But the prescriptive orientation evaluates and makes salient only deficiency and achievement. On the other hand, and consistent with those (e.g., Stetsenko, Holzman) who have referred to Vygotsky's legacy as *revolutionary,* an orientation consistent with Vygotsky's teachings would bring with it not only a different situation, but also an *emancipatory* one. Instead of inequality brought about by treating all equally, we would have an equalitarian approach whose power resides in acknowledging and caring for history and diversity. 

On a side thought, and connected to David's (Halliday's) distinction between ideational and interpersonal functions of language, I was wondering what is the relation/difference between ideational and ideological. In the article, it seems clear that the language related competence on putting names to things and thereby building categories seems a condition for the racial/ethnic tension to exist. But of course, the tension is a relational, not just a lexical one. Thoughts?

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
Sent: 13 March 2017 18:48
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l]  Jang's SL Article Discussion

​Dear all,

David has started some very interesting comments on the current article for discussion on Tensions in Second Language Learning, which attach again here. Because some of these comments have been given at a different thread, I am starting here a thread that shall more centrally concern Jang's article. I copy below all what David has so far written about the article. I hope this will ​make it easy for Eun-Young and everyone else to follow on her article. I know ​Eun-Young is challenged time-wise by course responsibilities and I hope this will make it easier for her.

Eun-Young, David mentions an article from 2011. If you wanted, you could also share the PDF with us for background, although the current article gives more than enough material for discussion, I think.


--------------------David Kellogg wrote: ------------------

t's very interesting to compare this paper with Professor Jang's 2011
paper co-authored with Robert T. Jimenez:

Eun-Young Jang & Robert T. Jiménez (2011) A Sociocultural Perspective on
Second Language Learner Strategies: Focus on the Impact of Social Context,
Theory Into Practice,
50:2, 141-148, DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2011.558443

In some ways, the papers are very similar--the data is identical in one
place (p. 42), and the conclusions are for the most part congruent. But
consider how different the titles are. "Impact" in one place, and "tension"
in the other.

There is this note to the 1935 version of Vygotsky's report on preschools,
where Zankov, Elkonin and Shif complain about Vygotsky's idea that the
child directs his or her own learning before preschool, the environment
directs it after preschool, and preschool therefore represents a kind of
transitional stage. On the one hand, if the child is directing his or her
own learning, how can we say that the environment is the ultimate source of
learning? And if the environment is the ultimate source of learning, as
Vygotsky says, how can we say that the child is himself or herself part of
the environment?

Professor Jang gets around this problem just as Vygotsky does--adroitly. On
the one hand, strategies are expanded to include "sets of actions performed
to deal with problems (perceived by the researcher, indicated by the
learners)". On the other, contexts are expanded to include "pedagogical
assumptions, power relations, and interracial conflict".

I think this solution to the problem is the correct one: when we consider
the relationship of the child and the environment, we cannot treat it like
an unstoppable force meeting an unmoveable object. But for me that means
that both the child and the environment have to be considered in "internal"
(that is, abstract, linguistic) terms. We can't think of speech as actions;
it's more useful to think of actions as speech. We can't think of the
social situation of development as a material setting: it's a relationship
with others.

Contrariwise, it seems to me that when we consider "racism", it is more
helpful to consider it in "external", that is, concrete, nonlinguistic
terms. In the 2011 paper, Professor Jang and her co-author are willing to
openly criticize the idea that languages are learned in exactly the same
way whether they are first or second languages. Here, they just quote the
teacher's comments on "mommy skills".

It's a very revealing quote. One thing it reveals is why it's probably not
helpful to refer to "racist" as an "insult" (p. 40) or to imply that racism
and anti-racism is really just a matter of having the right attitude (as
the Republicans did in the Sessions debate or as Bernie Sanders did when he
referred to Trump supporters who voted for Obama as "not having a racist
bone in their bodies").

You can see that subjectively, the teacher is being anti-racist--all
students, French, Turkish, Egyptian, Korean, use the same strategies, just
like we all have mommies.She has all the right attitudes, and probably
doesn't have a racist bone in her body. But that doesn't diminish by one
jot the terrible damage that this kind of indiscriminate discrimination
does in the classroom.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

------------------------ On a related thread (Subject: Don't do it), David K. wrote:--------------

It seems to me that we need to clearly distinguish between "racism" and
"racist sentiment". One of the interesting problems that comes up in Eunhee
Jang's excellent article on second language learning strategies from a
sociocultural point of view--a wonderful piece of "inside" work,
introducing racial issues into an area where they have never been seriously
discussed--is the use of "racist" (by the Korean kids to describe their
teacher) as an "insult".

I like the article. I think it's important work. But for that very reason,
I think that it's important to resist any attempt to reduce "racist" to a
personal insult. I think we've seen very very clearly, both in the Sessions
confirmation hearing, and in the discussion of Trump's own anti-semitic
behavior--that this kind of reduction of the political to the personal is
precisely the kind of reducing the sociocultural to the cognitive that
Professor Jang is trying to resist.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

------------------------- Idem as above----------------------------------------

One of the interesting aspects of Professor Jang's paper is that it is
about adolescents who are in the process of forming concepts, but who are
not there yet. And one way in which an adolescent forms a concept about the
difficult concept of a social contract, of citizenship, of nationality is
pseudoconceptual: it is based on discussing "actual" perceptual differences
between races. This might seem irrelevant to current political discourse.
Unfortunately, it isn't.​

David Kellogg