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


Down the hall one of the Chinese translators is working on translations of
the Chinese "State of the Union" address into English. The Chinese goes
something like this:

xiāochú pínkùn qǔdé jìnzhǎn.


"Eradicate Poverty Achieve Progress", i.e. "(The government) (made) some
progress in the eradication of poverty."

In Chinese we don't have to specify the agent, and we don't need to use the
effective verb "made"; it's a happening and not a doing. This used to be
because the agent went without saying--it's encoded in the grammar. Partly
thanks to a poetic tradition going back more than a thousand years, Chinese
lends itself to four-syllable slogan-like objects like "Eradicate Poverty"
and "Achieve Progress", and putting them together sounds natural. We don't
usually use a subject unless we want to stress it; it's much more common to
just have a nominal topic and then a comment, like in this example. Because
the government has a well established role in mobilizing the masses to
carry out actions like famine relief and flood prevention and so on, the
agent and the "doing" don't need to be specified: everybody knows it was
the government, even if that weren't clear in the context of a government
report. So we simply say it's a happening.

Now that's changing. In fact, the government does relatively little to
alleviate poverty. There are regional enterprises, and there are private
businesses and so on. After the Sichuan earthquake, my brother-in-law
loaded up his SUV with bottled water and drove down to the earthquake area
to distribute it, and he says there was a huge traffic jam of other SUVs by
entrepreneurs like him who had exactly the same idea. And for precisely
this reason, we find that in the government report there is more and more
explicit stipulation of the government's agency and of the effective means.
Instead of just happening, the government does things. There is a similar
link between ideology and ideation in English if you think about it. When
something GOOD happens, it's because somebody DID it, but when something
bad happens, "Stuff happens".

Here's the point. We usually use "ideology" to mean something like
conscious and deliberate ideation, usually of an intentionally deceitful or
misleading variety. I don't really accept that. It seems to me that
"ideology" really is equivalent to ideation, that is, to the communicative,
representational function of speech, except that it is somewhat larger,
both because the interpersonal and the textual functions also encode ideas
and are also therefore ideological and because a lot of ideology is simply
NOT specifying things. For example, when you say "it's raining", you are
conveying the idea that rain is an event that just happens, and is not
caused by any nameable entity. You don't normally say "it's birding" or
even "it's shining".

Similarly, we usually use "prescriptivism" to mean something like conscious
and deliberate transformativism, usually of an authoritarian and
dictatorial, and deceptive, sort. I don't really accept that either. On the
contrary, what is really deceptive is to pretend that the process of
education is meaningful without attending to its ultimate product. To me,
"Eradicate Poverty Achieve Progress" is a perfect balance of process and
product, and agency and effective means are only meaningful with respect to

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 5:53 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> 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?
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> 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.
> Alfredo
> --------------------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