Welcome to English 571! This course, one of the first that MATESOL students take in their degree program, is designed to familiarize you with key concepts and theories in the field of TESOL and their implications for classroom teaching. Along the way, we will be asking some questions that challenge “common sense” views of language acquisition. For example: What is language and how is it acquired? What does it mean to learn a language? What are some of the social, cultural, historical, and political factors that shape that learning? What is the nature of bilingualism? Monolingualism? Multicompetence? Translingualism?
We will open the quarter learning about some foundational concepts within second language acquisition (SLA) theory, including universal grammar (UG), the monitor model, critical period hypotheses, theories of language-mixing, and developmental sequences. We will then examine some of the key epistemological issues and theoretical tensions that have emerged historically within the field, approaching our exploration from linguistic, psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic, sociocultural, language socialization, post-colonial, critical, and critical race perspectives. Later in the course, we will examine how understandings about second language acquisition have been shaped by recent influences from disciplines other than linguistics and psychology, most notably education, sociology, and anthropology, and we will reflect critically on how we use language in teaching, in learning, and in negotiating who we are in various contexts. In all topics we discuss, we will consider how these ideas inform our beliefs about language teaching and shape our images of the teachers we want to be.