ERIC Number: ED396562
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996
Examining Assumptions in Second Language Research: A Postmodern View. CLCS Occasional Paper No. 45.
In a review of literature on second language learning, an opinion is put forth that certain assumptions underlying the theory and the research have influenced researchers' attitudes about second language development and diminished the objectivity of the research. Furthermore the content of the research must then be examined within its sociocultural, historical, and political context, and that it may be necessary to question some of these assumptions, which are based, philosophically, on a modern rationalist, positivist perspective. A postmodern view that second language education is political, and that all knowledge is socially and historically constructed is proposed. These issues are examined: the concept of "natural language" traditional in applied linguistics; artificial distinction made between the language learner and the social context of language learning; Eurocentrism in theorizing about language and language systems; the value of statistics in determining generalizability of research findings; the concept of normalization; and the nature of metalinguistic awareness. It is suggested that the social, cultural, and political nature of research is fragile, and that to understand it, it is necessary to examine it in relation to existing practices and conditions. Contains 39 references. (MSE)
Descriptors: Applied Linguistics, Cultural Context, Foreign Countries, Language Research, Learning Processes, Linguistic Theory, Metalinguistics, Objectivity, Political Influences, Psycholinguistics, Research Methodology, Second Language Learning, Second Languages, Social Influences, Sociocultural Patterns
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Trinity Coll., Dublin (Ireland). Centre for Language and Communication Studies.