An ecological perspective for critical action in applied linguistics

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In this chapter, we argue that critical perspectives focused on resisting oppression fail to recognize the stratified nature of language education and applied linguistics ecologies. In human ecologies, power is conceded as much as it is taken, and “unjust” orders are generated by stakeholder action on all levels. Our ecological alternative suggests that individuals and groups on all levels of an applied linguistics ecology should problematize normative assumptions (implicit theories held by the majority), develop enhanced understanding of what is happening, and use this understanding to become more purposeful – all the while remaining open to, and supportive of, others within the ecology developing their own unique intentionality. We exemplify this critical-intentional perspective through an analysis of how universities, located in non-English speaking contexts, appear to respond to the hegemony of English as the global academic language, as well as a contrasting analysis of how the Nordic notion of Parallel Language Use may represent a critical-intentional response to this situation of hegemony. We conclude by suggesting that the ecological perspective on critical action, involving actors on all levels of an ecology, may be our best opportunity to transform unjust orders in language education and Applied Linguistics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChallenging boundaries in language education
EditorsAchilleas Kostoulas
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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