Once upon a time, not so very long ago, teaching language was teaching grammar, and a particular understanding of grammar at that. Students conjugated verbs. They memorized the new language’s case markers. They listed roots or stems along with all possible word forms. Perhaps students might translate a bit of text. And they wrote a test. That was learning a language, and the issues associated with its teaching and learning were relatively limited.
Of course, historically speaking, people learned languages through contact with neighbours. In order to trade, manage territorial boundaries, or find a mate, peoples had to find ways of communicating with each other. To the extent it existed, teaching occurred among people who desired to interact. The concerns with which these individuals grappled were quite different from students and teachers studying grammar.
But when you look at today’s landscape of teaching and learning languages, there is a veritable explosion of topics, issues and concerns. Questions of what to teach and how to teach are complicated by the multiple purposes for which people learn English; by the politics and social make-up of the teaching context; by transnational flows of people and ideas; by questions of who ‘owns’ a language. This course is a sampling of the issues and trends which occupy the minds of practitioners and researchers in our profession. It aims to familiarize you with a range of topics so that you will be able to draw connections between research and your classroom; to participate in professional discussions in your workplace and organization; and to contribute to the knowledge base of our profession. Most of all, it aims to support you in reflecting on language teaching from multiple angles, thus broadening your capacity as a professional educator and researcher.