Critical pedagogy in L2 learning and teaching

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

41 Scopus citations


Critical pedagogy entered the second language (L2) scene quite belatedly, at least in comparison to its sister disciplines literature, composition, and education. Marxist orientations to the material and ideological implications of learning were already being discussed around the 1970s by Williams (1977) in literature, Ohmann (1976) in composition, and Giroux (1979) in education. Although teaching a colonial language to students from many minority language groups is a controversial activity fraught with political significance, L2 professionals largely adopted an idyllic innocence toward their work. This attitude was shaped by the structuralist perspective on language (which orientated to proficiency as the rule-governed deployment of abstract value-free grammar), behaviorist orientation to learning (which assumed that the calculated exposure to linguistic stimuliwould facilitate competence amongdocile students), and the positivistic tradition to language acquisition research (which stipulated that a controlled observation of learning in clinically circumscribed settings would reveal the processes of acquisition that help construct the methods and materials for successful learning). L2 teaching was motivated by the pragmatic attitude of equipping students with the linguistic and communicative skills that would make them socially functional. With hindsight, critical practitioners would now argue that these apolitical disciplinaryprincipleswere indeedmotivatedbygeopolitical realities. English Language Teaching, or ELT, (as sponsored by cultural agencies like theUnited States InformationAgency and the BritishCouncil) became an important activity after decolonization and around the Cold War when English language was perceived as a more effective medium of hegemony (see Phillipson, 1992). The dominant principles in the discipline, therefore, served to mask the controversial material and ideological ends of ELT pedagogy (Pennycook, 1989, 1994a).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781135636463
ISBN (Print)0805841814
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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