Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The postmethod era


I’ve found the two readings very informative. Celce-Murcia’s article meets the function of providing teachers with a review of the basics of the distinct methods that have been present in the studies of second/foreign language learning .  Kumaravadivelu on the other hand focuses in how the TESOL field of study has evolved over the last twenty years.

I will concentrate on Kumaravadivelu’s article and will pose a few questions:

  1.  Kumaravadivelu does a very good job in pointing out the difference between methods and practices. This dichotomy presents with a very important question on how teachers actually enact methods in their classrooms. Even though the author does quote some studies on how methods take place in the classroom, I have a lot of doubts in terms on how the results from the studies can be generalized to all teachers in all contexts globally. Coming up to general conclusions on the effectiveness of methods and the ways they are implemented seems a very risky enterprise, particularly if we embrace the differences between local contexts and teachers’ background and teaching styles.
  2.  Kumaravadivelu discusses what a postmethod pedagogy could look like, and how it should rely on the teacher’s ability to determine what side of the pendulums they should lean towards.  However, I wonder if this not what many teachers have been doing for a long time, even when the method era was in vogue.
  3.  As I read Kumaravadivelu proposal of a Macrostrategic Framework, I couldn’t help but thinking, isn’t this a method in its own? Wouldn’t the enacting of the ten macrostrategies proposed by Kumaravadivelu require some kind of procedural order and implemmentation?
  4.  Kumaravadivelu cites Norton (2000) when he says: ‘it is only by understanding the histories and lived experiences of language learners that the language teacher can create conditions that will facilitate social interaction both in the classroom and in the wider community, and help learners claim the right to speak’. I wonder how feasible it is only to know (not to say understand) the histories and lived experiences of language learners.  Furthermore, is this really the only way to create such conditions?
  5.  I believe evolution on the study of language and theories of learning as well as our inherent human and scientific desire to find generalizable principles have played an important role in the constant uprising of ELT methods. Of course, economic and political agendas have also partaken in this. As of now, as a consequence of the way social sciences have been moving towards the critical side of the pendulum, we are now witnessing how these critical perspectives on language teaching. However, isn’t it possible that radically critical perspectives of the method era as the ones presented in article may lead us into an atomization and relativism of the field where teachers are responsible of figuring out the specific peculiarities of each learning environment? Isn’t this too much of a burden, particularly with the political and economic contexts where teachers have to develop their profession?

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