Document Type: Plenary Speech
University of Vienna
The basic assumption in applied linguistics is that the expert disciplinary study of linguistics can yield insights which can be applied to an understanding of how language is actually experienced, and so provide a principled basis for intervention by proposing ways of resolving the problems that people’s experience in using and learning language gives rise to. But the validity of this assumption depends on how is expertise in linguistics to be defined, and how far, as it has been conventionally practiced, can it claim to account for the reality of how individuals experience language? What, for example, does it tell us, and not tell us, about how users and learners think and feel about their own and other peoples’ language, and what effect their attitude has on their using and learning? These are crucial questions about the scope of linguistics and its applied linguistic relevance since they have an immediate and urgent bearing on the problematic issues that applied linguistics would claim to address of how communication is enacted across different lingua-cultural and ideological borders in a globalized world. Since this global communication is predominantly mediated by the expedient use of English as a lingua franca, it raises the applied linguistic question that this talk will be centrally concerned with of what pedagogic implications this has for how English is conventionally taught as a foreign language subject.