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22. Social Influences on Language Learning

GARY BARKHUIZEN


Subject Linguistics » Applied Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405138093.2005.00028.x


Extract

Actual talk does not occur like a travelogue, with the scene and the narration separate. ( Mehan & Wood, 1983 , p. 140) Learning an additional language is a difficult and complex endeavor. There exists not only the awesome task of mastering the grammatical system of the language, but also the job of learning how to utilize this system appropriately and effectively when actually communicating in real-life situations. Describing and explaining this process is perhaps even more difficult. There is obviously something going on inside the heads of language learners. But this remains unobservable. Matters are further complicated when the outcomes of that learning, now observable, are examined within any social context. An infinite number of variables suddenly come into play. The work of applied linguists includes the disentanglement of this complex web of cognitive and social arrangements. Applied linguists, however, are concerned with more than answering an intriguing question. They do not spend their time grappling with this mystery in order to further their understanding of what language is all about; that is, “to further a linguistic theory” ( Davies, 1999 , p. 6). Instead, their work is “grounded in real-world language-driven problems and concerns” ( Kaplan & Grabe, 2000 , p. 4), a position supported by Widdowson (2000 , p. 3) who says that applied linguistics is a mediating ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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