Article Critique on TESOL at 40: What are the issues?
The article for which section wise critiques are compiled suggests the following issues.
First of all the article talks about opening up the classroom to learning opportunities, integrating skills, and teaching for specific purposes. Also the article talks about different types of motivation that motivate a learner to under go a language learning process. Further this article also talks about debates and issues regarding grammar, its usage and situations where it should be taught and also where to avoid it. Lastly the article covers the issue of globalization and technological advancements that have led to the spread of language many folds and with that the language and the educational boards are also facing complex challenges and difficulties to address certain issues that require prompt attention in this pacing society.
Focus on the Learner
In this part of the article the author emphasizes on the learner of the language by taking into account both the motivation that he requires to learn and also the personal characteristics of the learner that matter in his learning process. The author then takes the discussion to different types of motivation which motivate a person in the learning process. He talks about intrinsic motivation that s learning for the purpose of self accomplishment and also extrinsic motivation that is the motivation that learner gets from rewards and outcomes by undergoing a learning process. Then the author moves on to the empowerment of students in sense of thinking critically and also practicing the critical ideas. CT and CP have resulted in shifts of the learning process.
At this point in my point of view, the author though has mentioned what our thinking process was, and what it has transformed in to now, the author should make a correlation with the shift and his own definition of empowerment. For example, it is the critical thinking and critical practicing that has led to praising of calculations that are based on mere guessing rather then correct answers, or we can also put it in this way that when one individual practices critical evaluation, only then he able to make calculated guesses. Therefore the author’s definition and the model of shift from and towards is more or less the same thing.
Moreover, the author also refers to the use of model of legitimate peripheral participation that mainly encompasses the extrinsic part of the motivation. According to the author, intrinsic motivation is now turned into an orthodox phenomenon as a learner is primarily motivated from the objectives he attains. In my opinion this is not always the case and making it a generalization is not a wise decision as the both intrinsic motivation and extrinsic hold their own distinct importance in motivating a learner. A learner is not always motivated by the objectives, but the psychological concept of self actualization is also a factor for self accomplishment of a learner while learning a new language.
Focus on Subject Matter
In this section of the article the author emphasizes on the different types of content and genres of the language learning process that are incorporated with the classroom activities and practices. The author suggests in this part of the article that teachers and instructors are now more inclined towards keeping the contents of the subject and the curriculum open ended in order to promote critical thinking and research in the process of learning by the students . The gap between target language and the respective learner is to be lessened by devising approaches that help in this matter so as to incorporate all sorts of variations in different genres of the language present in different communities. Globalization and technology are creating challenges that need critical insight of the practitioners to learn from the out side community as well rather then residing on the professional curriculum that is present previously. The process of communication and use of language has been influenced greatly by globalization, economics and social issues and its impact can bee seen in the novels and writings that have just come into the scene recently.
It is true in my point of view that a lot of factors have now shaped the learning and communicating process in a range of genres and styles, and it does surely require students and teachers to practice research and critical thinking , however keeping the curriculum open ended is not the only best solution to face the challenge, but controlling the process of evolution of the language, while keeping in view the personal traits of the learner and the limitations of the language is very much important in order to keep the learning process on track. Otherwise, in my point of view, endless list of genres and dialects will then come on to the scene representing different geographical situations with their separate style of communication.
Focus on Method
Focusing on method in this part of the article requires teachers and instructors to accept learners as partners in the process of on going learning communication process as the system should depict student centered system to encourage effective communication and cooperation of students in this learning process as well.
All Wright has pointed out very rightly that if the decentralization of curriculum and methods incorporate students as partners, this would mean that this step would provide students to find their own learning strategies that would enable them to exploit their own purpose for learning, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. If this is the case then what is the action plan that would require teachers to compromise on their own curriculum, teaching methodology and agendas while teaching?
Use of macro strategies as defined by Kumaravadivelu are useful in the sense that they encourage broad guidelines for teachers who can use these strategies that are need based and situation centered in order to come up with micro strategies for class room that will ensure that both students have the chance to participate freely in the process of learning and teachers also the chance to control their research in order to keep the research, critical analyses and new techniques in line with objectives of learning.
Focus on Sociopolitical and Geographical Issues
Basing on the prediction by Richard tucker in this article, spoken English has become lenient, less strict and harsh as immigrants right to electoral votes has increased in recent times. This has given immigrants the right to speak their own genre or the dialect of English that they have come up themselves.
However, the new office of English language acquisition is , in my point of view, rightly has limited the role of bilingual education and is providing lesser opportunities for non English languages so that this organization could help non English students to help transform to proper English . Suing of US department in my point of view is a justifiable act as it dialed to provide proper funding for the issue.
English is the commonly accepted international language that is helping in communicating at global fronts in context to both globalization and economic advancements, however the nationalism and the chauvinistic approach intact with it is limiting the spread of the language as some nations do not prefer communicating in other languages, especially English, due to its rapid growth and penetration into both different societies and also in their culture even.
in order to cope with this problem a new problem is coming on to the stage when teachers and students of other linguistic background try to mix local language with English in classroom discussions that gives rise to an even new version of the language.
BROADENING THE STORY
Globalization and advancement in technology, according to the author in this part of the article, are so rapid and radical in their growth rate that predicting where this profession of teaching and learning is impossible and even if we do it predict, the predictions will be inadequate as the speed of information processing and creation is beyond our imagination to predict. The spread of English is historically derived from the colonization and globalization that started 500 years back however, today the use of technology and media is doing next level job.
This part of the article in my view represents the importance of English in the global setting quite adequately as it gives four very basic uses of English and explains them very efficiently.
It is very right that use of English now cannot be limited by nationalist nation’s ethnic backgrounds as economic relationships today require diverse multinational participation at different levels. Also with the flow of people goods and services of people across borders after the WTO is as free as moving to yet another state in USA and this also leads to mix of English with other languages. To save time , the best way to correspond overseas destinations requires a common medium language is English efficiently serves the purpose.
However the question remains, does the language deserve to have as many dialects as the places it goes? In my opinion no, the reasons for the spread of the language in this article does not justify evolution of as many dialects as the need of the hour but it should focus on what steps should be taken to encourage standardized spread of the language across the globe. This should include different methods that would require both teachers and learners to come up and devise an action plan for the learning process of the language for all those regions that are threat to devising new genres of the language. The language, no matter how global it gets, should be preserved in its original form and not distorted.
SO WHAT IS THE STORY?
Although we still see a class room’s door as the gate to intellect, integrating skills, and from a teacher’s perspective, teaching for specific purposes, the empowering of learners and the exposure to the theories of motivation has led to a shift in structure, may be on the same gradient but different magnitude.
In this part of the article, Widdowson maintains that one size fits all approach cannot be adopted today as different matters should be taken differently. Although in general terms Widdowson may be right , however in my point of view, why not take into account all the challenges that this learning teaching process is facing and then come up with one solution or plan that is encompasses major heads of problems. These solutions can be standards that should be set globally, all research and critical thinking in my view should be undertaken in the radius of these standards, as once problem goes out of the radius, new standards are made by individuals themselves and a new chain of language transition starts.
Moreover coming to the end of this section, the author does term the research , critical thinking and evolution in this field as healthy, however, at the very it gives reference to a quote by Miller, that suggest we should wait in anticipation in what unfolds. In my opinion this is a risk when it comes to language transition, you cannot just leave a language on hit and trial researches and evaluations but the should be controlled and the controllers should be expecting the outcomes rather then anticipating what shape they take when they come out.
A DIFFERENT STORY, NEW METAPHORS
The example at the end of the article is a perfect presentation to see that yes, rather than the outcome, what is more important is the search that has been undergone to get to the outcome be it good or bad. What is important is the pain, the sacrifice and the commitment that leads the outcome. The outcome suggested that the solution lies in the struggle that you go through in order to find it rather then the solution itself.
However, this example is only valid if the commitment and the principle of the goal to be achieved is clear. Unlike the common practice of scholars and students today, who leave the out put on the research without streamlining norms and principles that must be taken care of while research, they expect the outcome on a hit and trial basis that can either revolutionize the language are drive it towards transitions.
CANAGARAJAH, SURESH (2006).TESOL at Forty: What Are the Issues?. TESOL Quarterly.