Lancaster UniversityGraduate School
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

You are here: Home >

SLLAT: Alan Waters, Orwellian' discourse in ELT: a threat to professional diversity

Date: 11 February 2013 Time: 4.00-5.30pm

Venue: Bowland North SR27

The first meeting of this term's research group on Second Language Learning and Teaching (SLLAT) will be Monday, 11th of February from 4 to 5.30 in Bowland North SR27.

Alan Waters will talk about: 'Orwellian' discourse in ELT: a threat to professional diversity.

Please see the abstract below.

ELT obviously needs to be sufficiently 'diverse' and 'inclusive'. However, this often fails to occur because professional discussion is frequently 'Orwellian' in nature, i.e., behaves in a manner resembling the political structures in novels such as 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'.

Firstly, a form of professional 'newspeak' often exists, whereby meanings of words are aligned with 'approved' ways of thinking. A prime example of this tendency is the use of the term 'authentic' to refer to texts not originally created for language learning purposes, rather than ones which are authentic to the learning situation. A second frequent occurrence is 'thoughtcrime' (views contrary to those of the 'ruling party' being seen as unacceptable). For example, to argue that there is often an important role for relatively 'teacher-centred' practices in ELT pedagogy risks being regarded as adhering to a discredited conception of language teaching and learning. Thirdly, 'doublethink' (simultaneously believing in two contradictory ideas) is all too common. For example, it is increasingly argued that 'English as a Native Language' should not be used as a pedagogical model in ELT. However, research shows that most learners prefer it. Nevertheless, theoretical debate tends to ignore their perspective. But this contradicts another major professional principle, that of 'learner-centredness'. As a result of such practices, the professional discourse frequently fails to acknowledge the true diversity of 'voices' that exist within the field. The talk discusses these and other examples of the problem in the hope that doing so will help to promote greater professional inclusivity

Event website:


Who can attend: Internal


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


| Home | Who's who? | Research Training | News and Events | Resources |

Graduate School, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YD, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1524 510880 E-mail:
Copyright & Disclaimer | Privacy and Cookies Notice