BAAL 2011 Plenary Speakers


Professor Anne Burns (Aston University, UK and University of New South Wales, Australia) - Investigating local pedagogies  

In this presentation, I will consider how action research relates to more established forms of research and will debate some of the criticisms that have been directed at action research.  Despite these criticisms, I will contend that action research has a particular capacity tocontribute to local pedagogical development and to practitioner understanding of the nature of local practices. I will also suggest that action research enables articulation of local practice to go beyond the individual classroom and the individual practitioner and can help to generate models and practical teaching theories that may have wider currency within the educational system. In illustrating my talk with various examples from my own experiences with practitioner action research, I am also interested in addressing the last of the questions raised for this conference: 'How can practitioners contribute to local research and theorist/researchers contribute to local practice?'    

Professor Juliane House (Universität Hamburg, Germany) - Using the L1 and Translation to Develop Intercultural Competence

Translation is both a social activity and a cognitive process that facilitates communication between individuals who do not share, or do not choose to use, the same language, and it is essentially a secondary communicative event. Normally a communicative event happens once, but translation reduplicates it for persons otherwise prevented from appreciating the original communicative event. It thus fulfils an important service in overcoming lingua-cultural barriers. In this sense translation is a type of intercultural communication: it facilitates communication between members of different lingua-cultural groups with their often diverging knowledge sets, values and beliefs. In the past, research into intercultural communication often focused on cross-cultural pragmatic failure. More recently, interest has shifted to how speakers achieve intercultural competence and manage intercultural understanding. And it is this understanding which is also the basis of an important concept in translation: functional equivalence, a condition for successfully moving a text into another context. Intercultural understanding is then the success with which such a linguistic-cultural transposition has been undertaken.

In the second part of the paper I briefly sketch my own functional-pragmatic theory of translation as re-contextualization. Its cornerstone is the postulation of two translation types: overt and covert translation and a so-called “cultural filter”, which is based on empirical cross-cultural research and may be used to make transparent and explain the shifts in covert translation. I will argue that this  translation theory is a good basis for using translation and the L1 to develop intercultural competence in the foreign language classroom.

Such a pedagogic use of translation is the focus of the third part of the paper. While translation has a long tradition as a lexico-grammatical exercise and a test of students’ knowledge of and about a foreign language, it has also been at the centre of an ongoing debate about the role of the L1 in the foreign language classroom. Here I will briefly review arguments against and for translation before making suggestions for an enlightened use of translation as a cognitive-communicative strategy to develop intercultural competence. I will argue that translation needs to be re-conceptualized as a helpful instrument contributing to intercultural competence, linguistic-cultural awareness and conscious language learning.  

Professor B. Kumaravadivelu (San José State University, USA) - Transforming teachers, transforming teacher education  

My talk is premised upon four basic assumptions: (a) any meaningful, context-sensitive pedagogic knowledge can emerge only from the classroom, (b) it is the practicing teacher who is well placed to produce and apply that knowledge, (c) current approaches to language teacher education are aimed at preparing teachers to become consumers, not producers, of pedagogic knowledge, and therefore (d) there is an imperative need to fundamentally restructure language teacher education if we are serious about preparing teachers who can theorize from the classroom. 

Keeping the above assumptions in mind, I propose a modular model of teacher education that has the potential to transform present and prospective teachers into strategic thinkers, exploratory researchers and transformative teachers. The model consists of five modules: Knowing, Analyzing, Recognizing, Doing and Seeing (KARDS).  The goal is to help teachers understand (a) how to build a viable professional, personal and procedural knowledge-base, (b) how to analyze learner needs, motivation and autonomy, (c) how to recognize their own identities, beliefs and values, (d) how to do teaching, theorizing and dialogizing, and (e) how to see and monitor their own teaching acts.  The model provides a comprehensive framework for prospective and practicing teachers to develop a holistic understanding of what happens in the language classroom, eventually enabling them to theorise what they practice and practice what they theorise.