Appropriate methodology revisited at a time of cross-curricular approaches to language education

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Over the last three decades, the theme of appropriate methodology has been a strong one in English language teaching circles, driven, in part, by the initial Dunford house seminar of 1986 and the work of Adrian Holliday (e.g. 1994) amongst others. Researchers in this area have questioned the appropriacy of uncritically transferring methodological understandings developed in one educational context to other contexts where different methodological understandings are often in play. For example, the debate runs and runs about the appropriacy of developing communicative approaches to foreign language teaching in non-western educational settings. Without a context-sensitive approach to methodology, ‘tissue rejection’ can often result (Holliday, 1992). Given the potent role of English-medium articulations of methodological thinking in the contemporary, technology-mediated world of international scholarship, it is, perhaps, no coincidence that ELT has such a long history of considering methodological appropriacy. As Gerstein et al’s (2012) discussion of appropriacy in cross-cultural counselling demonstrates, this theme can also be extended to other methodological domains. Closer to home, in the Greek context it has been applied to models of foreign language teacher education (e.g. Fay et al, 2000) and the practices of distance education (e.g. Fay, 2004; Fay et al., 2006). In this paper, I hope to explore appropriate methodology concerns in relation to CLIL and other approaches to language across the curriculum, and to do so in ways which may resonate with developing CLIL practices in Greek educational contexts. I will first discuss some aspects of the appropriate methodology debate, noting how contextually insensitive methodological transfer is particularly, but not exclusively, prevalent when the methodological ideas concerned have arisen in English-speaking contexts and are articulated through English. This point applies to the main source for my developing thinking about what might be termed ‘appropriate CLIL methodology’. The source in question is English-medium CLIL materials development for Spanish primary schools. This thinking has, so far, two main elements: first, a concern for the highly-specialised professional competences needed in order to undertake such materials development and an awareness that such competences bring with them particular understandings of appropriacy; and, second, a consideration of some of the methodological understandings which seem to underpin the English-medium materials concerned, understandings whose origins may lie more in an ‘Anglo’ methodological mindset than in one more typical of Spanish primary education. I will conclude with some thoughts about the possibility of methodological imperialism in cross-cultural approaches to language education which might result from in such cross-cultural materials development projects, especially when these projects involve experts with competences formed in other educational contexts.ReferencesFay, R. (2004). Stories of emergent cultures of distance learning and collaboration: Understanding the CELSE-Hellenic Open University Project (unpublished doctoral thesis). The University of Manchester.Fay, R., Hill, M. and Davcheva, L. (2006). The need for culturally-appropriate distance learning methodology in crosscultural development contexts. In Lionarakis, A. (ed.), Open and Distance Education – Elements of Theory and Practice [translated from Greek]. (pp.151-173). Propobos: Athens. Fay, R., Spinthourakis, J.-A. and Anastassiadi, M.-C. (2000). Teacher education for teachers of English and French: Developing parallel distance learning programmes in Greece. In M. Beaumont and T. O’Brien (eds.), Collaborative research in second language education. (pp.109-122). Stoke: Trentham Books.Gerstein, L.H., Heppner, P.P., Ægisdottir, S., Leung, S-M.A. and Norsworthy, K.L. (2012). Essentials of cross-cultural counseling, Los Angeles & London: Sage.Holliday, A.R. (1992). Tissue rejection and informal orders in ELT projects: collecting the right information. Applied Linguistics, 13(4), 403-424.Holliday, A.R. (1994). Appropriate methodology and social context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2012
Eventthe 15th International Conference on Applied Linguistics “Cross-curricular Approaches to Language Education” - Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Duration: 23 Nov 201225 Nov 2012


Conferencethe 15th International Conference on Applied Linguistics “Cross-curricular Approaches to Language Education”
CityAristotle University of Thessaloniki


  • Appropriate methodology
  • Language education
  • Cross-curricular
  • CLIL
  • Allied linguistics


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