The Sociology of Language Teaching and Learning

Authored by: John Edwards

Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138859814
eBook ISBN: 9781315716893
Adobe ISBN: 9781317508366


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This handbook is concerned with second-language teaching and learning, and this chapter focuses upon the social settings in which these activities take place. My title, however, omits the word ‘second’ because I intend here to discuss elements of the broader picture of which second-language learning and teaching are a part. While the formal context of the classroom is the focal point here, it is worth mentioning at the outset that the teaching-learning nexus very often—most often, perhaps, if we were to approach the topic from broad temporal and geographic bases—arises outside the school gates. Considering the longstanding and ubiquitous efforts by which people have expanded their language repertoires in response to real-life pressures and requirements, one might object that extra-educational linguistic settings suggest learning much more than teaching. But this is only to restrict the latter to formal and regularized procedures, and neglects the obvious fact that there is always a ‘teacher’ of sorts for every language learner. One might then imagine that studying the language dynamics of the home, the streets, the market and the workplace could reveal elements profitably transferrable to narrower milieus.

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