Paper 1: SLS 660


You have three choices for this paper:

Option A

A critical discourse analysis of a policy or texts which impact language use in education, language rights, or the political economy of languages.

Drawing on our reading of Anne-Marie de Mejia's work (in week 4), we will practice CDA, an approach to analyzing texts and talk which investigates both the microlevel texts and the macrolevel discourses that shape and produce these texts. In a CDA paper, you should choose a text of some kind (a policy document, a set of advertisements, a brochure for a language school, an editorial by a school board official, the DOE's mission statement, etc.) and beginning with the text itself, look for textual elements that demonstrate how the author is constructing her/his position on the topic(s) under discussion. What are the textual devices that the author uses to portray the issue in a particular way? How does the author achieve this goal? What larger discourses or ideologies does the text point to through intertextual ties?

Possible topics/texts to analyze:

Useful references and examples of CDA can be found in:

Fairclough, Norman. 1989 (2002, 2 nd ed.). Language and power. London and NY:   Routledge.
Fairclough, Norman. 1995. Critical discourse analysis . London: Longman/Pearson.
Gebhard, Meg. 2005. School reform, hybrid discourses, and second language literacies. TESOLQuarterly , 39, 187-210.
Van Dijk, Teun A., & Wodak, Ruth 1988. Discourse, racism, and ideology . Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter. (Hamilton main- library use only)
Weiss, Gilbert & Wodak, Ruth. 2003. Critical discourse analysis: theory and interdisciplinarity .NY: Palgrave. (on reserve)
Stamou, Anastasia, and Paraskevolpoulos, Stephanos. 2004. Images of nature by tourism andenvironmentalist discourses in visitors books: A critical discourse analysis of ecotourism. Discourse & Society , 15, 105-129.
Thornborrow, Joanna. 2002. Power talk. London: Pearson.
Wodak, Ruth. 1996. Disorders of discourse . London: Longman. (on reserve)


Option B

A paper on language policy which probes existing policy for weaknesses and failures and also makes recommendations for change such as:

(1) a national language policy for a country in which you have lived and worked or studied;
(2) a policy regarding indigenous, immigrant, or pidgin/creole languages, or nonstandard varieties in a particular region;
(3) a language policy for a specific institution, such as workplace or an educational institution;
(4) a policy for corpus planning issues, for instance, the institution or change of a writing system, non-sexist language use, introduction of foreign words vs. indigenization;.
(5) other language planning or policy issues which you propose

Write a rationale for the language policy which answers the following questions in an integrated essay. In other words, do not simply list the answers to each question; rather, organize your writing so that these questions are answered, and in a writing style that flows:

    a) what languages and varieties are spoken in the country/region, by what numbers of speakers, living in what areas?

    b) what languages and varieties are currently used in different societal domains (government, education, social services, workplaces, arts, intergenerational communication, email, personal interaction)?

    c) what is the existing policy and practice regarding language teaching and/or language use in the country/region/context?

    d) what principles do you believe should guide the language policy? why?

    e) what specific initiatives should emanate from the language policy? why?

Plan of action: Start with a literature search for existing studies of, or documents on, language policies in your country/region/institution/corpus planning issue of choice. If you don't find any, describe the de-facto policies, including your sources of evidence. Assess the current policies, based on sociolinguistic theories and research. What is currently working? What evidence of success exists for current language policy? Conversely, what isn't working? What should be changed, and why? For your own policy proposal, do NOT develop a budget or spend time on intricate details. You paper will be assessed in terms of your research on the current situation, your understanding of language policy issues, and your ability to provide sociolinguistically informed ideas and arguments.

Below are some suggested topics (which are merely suggestions -- feel free to come up with your own area)

Helpful references

Canagarajah, Suresh (ed.) 2005. Reclaiming the Local in Language Policy and Practice . Erlbaum.
May, Stephen. 2001. Language and Minority Rights. London: Longman.
Schmidt, Ronald. 2000. Language policy and identity politics in the United States . Temple University Press.
Spolsky, Bernard, & Mesthrie, Rajend (eds.) 2003. Language Policy . Cambridge.
Tollefson, James. 2001. Language Policies in Education: Critical Issues . Erlbaum.


Option C

An investigation of some aspect of sociolinguistic variation for the purpose of S/F/HL pedagogy

This option is meant to provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the sociolinguistic variation of a particular language and to make use of this knowledge in your own language teaching.   To do so, you will need to focus on the social meanings that varieties of languages convey. Within a particular pedagogical context, (primary/secondary/tertiary education, adult education, civics classes for immigrants, juku classes, private tutoring, etc.), develop a paper which engages with the role of a particular sort of social and/or regional variation in the target language. Once you have provided a thorough description of the context for pedagogy, your paper should provide a description of the social and/or regional variation that you are interested in incorporating into your pedagogy, which means that you should provide clear illustrations of the sociolinguistic phenomena you cover. Your paper should include a discussion of why these particular sociolinguistic features are relevant to learners, and it should also include recommendations for how to incorporate these phenomena into the teaching of the target language.

In order to focus your paper in a manageable way, I highly recommend that you narrow your topic as much as possible to a particular sociolinguistic aspect of language, such as:

Some helpful references:

Block, David, & Cameron, Deborah (eds.) 2002. Globalization and Language Teaching. London: Routledge.
Blyth, Carl (ed.) 2002. The Sociolinguistics of Foreign Language Classrooms: Contributions of the Native, the Near-native, and the Non-native Speaker. Heinle. (available via Interlibrary loan)
Candlin, Christopher, and Mercer, Neil (eds.) 2001. English Language Teaching in its Social Context: A Reader. London: Routledge.
Coates, Jennifer (ed.) 1997. Language and gender. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Hall, Joan Kelly, and Eggington, William (eds.) 2001. The Sociopolitics of English Language Teaching. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Itakura, Hiroko. 2001. Conversational Dominance and Gender: A Study of Japanese Speakers in First and Second Language Contexts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Rose, Kenneth & Kasper, Gabriele (eds.). 2001. Pragmatics in language teaching. Cambridge.
McKay, Sandra. 1996. Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching. Cambridge.
Norton, B., & Toohey, K. 2004. Critical pedagogies and language teaching. Cambridge.
Reagan, Timothy. 2002. Language, Education, and Ideology: Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of U.S.Schools. Praeger.
Reagan, Timothy, & Osborn, Terry A. 2002. The foreign language educator in society. Erlbaum.