Language and culture in ELT

Authored by: Claire Kramsch , Zhu Hua

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415747394
eBook ISBN: 9781315676203
Adobe ISBN: 9781317384472


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English language teaching (ELT), as it developed after World War II within the field of applied linguistics (Li 2014: 13), responded to the needs of an international market-based economy and the spread of an Anglo-Saxon form of democracy during the Cold War (Brutt-Griffler, 2002), and thus did not originally have much concern for culture (Corbett, 2003: 20). The link between language and culture in applied linguistics only became an issue in the 1990s with the identity politics of the time and the advances made in second language acquisition research. Until then, the research and methodological literature of ELT had, from the 1970s onwards, promoted the benefits of learning English through a functional, communicative approach based on democratic access to turns-at-talk and on individual autonomy in the expression, interpretation and negotiation of meaning (see Thornbury, this volume). This communicative approach had been deemed universal in its applicability because it was grounded in a view of language learners as rational actors, equal before the rules of grammar and the norms of the native speaker, and eager to benefit from the economic opportunities that a knowledge of English would bring. The negotiation of meaning that formed the core of the communicative approach applied to referential or to situational meaning, not necessarily, as was later argued (e.g. Kramsch, 1993), to cultural or to ideological meaning.

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