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Discourse and Second Language Learning

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Discourse and Education

Part of the book series: Encyclopedia of Language and Education ((ELE))

Abstract

This chapter presents a big picture of the past, present, and future of the intersection between discourse and second language learning. It traces back to early developments in the two fields tackling negotiated interaction; learner variation; accommodation theory; acculturation; initiation, response, feedback (IRF) patterns in classroom discourse; and cross-cultural communication. Then it discusses the major contributions to discourse-based SLA research including language identity, language socialization, sociocultural theory (SCT), and conversation analysis. All these discursive approaches have been feeding the ongoing cognitive-social debate, which was recapitulated in the 2007 focus issue of Modern Language Journal (Volume 91, Issue Supplement s1). Responding to the debate, Atkinson (Modern Lang J 86:525–545, 2002) proposed a socio-cognitive approach, which takes an ecological perspective that could conflate cognitive and social orientations. Young (Discursive practice in language learning and teaching. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, 2009) espoused practice theory to examine diverse resources that participants deploy in a practice and the relationship between the practice, its generic history, and the participants’ personal histories. Another current qualitative research focuses on plurilingualism or pragmatic development in varying discourses. Discursive approaches to second language acquisition (SLA) are facing such challenges as documenting SLA over time and going beyond monolingual, instructed settings. One possible solution is adopting Ethnography of Speaking or Interactional Sociolinguistics for longitudinal studies conducted in multilingual, uninstructed contexts. The approaches are moving toward post-structuralism and multidirections, which can illuminate, from both etic and emic perspectives, fluid identities, contingent learning outcomes, and nonlinear evolution of social participation in practices. The future of SLA research can benefit most from the integration of different approaches and the reconcilement of cognitive and social sides.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For a thorough overview of Critical Discourse Analysis, see Fairclough (1995).

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Correspondence to Diana Boxer or Weihua Zhu .

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Boxer, D., Zhu, W. (2017). Discourse and Second Language Learning. In: Wortham, S., Kim, D., May, S. (eds) Discourse and Education. Encyclopedia of Language and Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02243-7_30

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