Thursday, October 21, 2010

The second round

I have two entries on the discussion between Terry Santos and Sarah Benesch. Here is the second round of the discussion. You might agree or disagree with the claims of the authors but I think both Santos and Benesch raise important issues that we all need to think about.

Benesch, S. (2001). Critical pragmatism: A politics of L2 composition. In T. Silva & P. Matsuda (Eds.), On second language writing (pp. 161–172). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

The goal of this chapter is to show that L2 composition does not have to choose between pragmatism and critical teaching. Target-situation demands and students' right to challenge them can be simultaneously addressed through what Pennycook (1997), quoting Cherryholmes, 1988) called "critical pragmatism" (p. 255). This is not a compromise position but rather a way to broaden the discussion of students' needs to consider not only what is but also what might be. To demonstrate how critical pragmatism might work in L2 composition, both the theoretical underpinnings and practical possibilities are discussed. First, I discuss how critical research addresses important issues overlooked by a strictly pragmatic stance. Next, I outline the assumptions and goals of critical research and pedagogy, including ways critical theory interrogates itself. Then I briefly discuss current opposition  to politics in ELT L2 composition and English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and I end with an example of critical pragmatism from my own teaching. (p. 162)
Santos, T. (2001). The place of politics in second language writing. In T. Silva & P. K. Matsuda (Eds.), On second language writing (pp. 173–190). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
In the 1990s, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) has seen the emergence of an alternative perspective known as critical applied linguistics, which has an explicitly sociopolitical orientation and is an extension of critical theory found predominantly in the humanities and social sciences. Although the focus of this chapter is the role of politics in second language (L2) writing it is imperative to place that role in the larger context of critical applied linguistics. Therefore, this chapter on politics and L2 writing begins by briefly reviewing the central concerns of critical theory, critical pedagogy, and critical applied linguistics to show how and why they constitute a major reassessment of the goals and practices of mainstream TESOL. I then consider the extension of this critical perspective to L2 writing, specifically, the theoretical positions and pedagogical recommendations of critical theory in relation to L2 writing. I also offer my own critique of critical approaches to L2 writing and conclude with my view of the future role of the sociopolitical in second language writing. (p. 173)

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