Creating histories and spaces of meaningful use : toward a framework of foreign language teaching with an emphasis on culture, epistemology and ethical pedagogy

  • Harald Andreas Kraus

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis arises out of a critique of the way language is decontextualized and presented from a reductively linguistic viewpoint in foreign language instruction. In particular, it focuses on the weaknesses of the broad approach known as Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and highlights the disparity between its theoretical assumptions and practical applications. With this in mind, the thesis identifies and explores three foundational premises that should be considered as part of an attempt to design a theoretically coherent framework for foreign language instruction. By applying three sets of principles based on these premises, the thesis goes on to outline such a framework. After providing a background to the study, the first consideration is the nature of cultural and communicative performance. The study turns to sociological concepts regarding cultural organization and production, in order to better conceptualize how 'culture' can be understood in the context of foreign language learning. The second part of this area focuses on meaning and communication in order to undermine current treatments of 'language' in foreign language pedagogy. The second area of interest is that of learning and thus considers a number of theories of how people learn. The focus here is on learning-in-general rather than learning languages specifically. What emerges from this are a number of principles that should be borne in mind when creating conditions favorable to language learning. Finally, one largely overlooked area in foreign language learning and applied linguistics more broadly, is how the field of foreign language pedagogy constructs and legitimizes its practices, as well as suppresses its foundational theoretical assumptions in its activities (including research, methodology and teaching). A chapter is therefore devoted to this issue, and a set of principles is formulated in order to ensure that the design of any instructional framework is honest and ethical. Thus furnished with the triangulation of principles, an attempt is made to outline how a learner-focused, ethical pedagogical framework that stresses culture might look. This thesis is theoretical in nature and relies on arguments and positions from diverse and less commonly considered academic fields in foreign language instruction. Its main theoretical inspiration comes from concepts and claims generally considered 'poststructural' or 'postmodern'. However, there is no exclusive devotion to any particular author or theory. It is hoped that this thesis can make a genuine, if not controversial, contribution to the field of foreign language teaching by initiating a dialogue concerning the (lack of) philosophical and epistemological reflexivity in the field.
    Date of Award2003
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAndrew Lian (Supervisor) & Jeremy Jones (Supervisor)

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