WP11 Dichotomies, Difference and Ritual in Second Language Learning and Teaching

Collection: Key word


This paper questions the distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘instructed’ language learning. It first of all introduces two extracts in which adolescents use Panjabi as a second language in peer group recreation, and then shows how these contradict orthodox images of natural acquisition and classroom learning. But rather than simply dismissing the dichotomy as empirical fantasy, its important role as an ideology of language is recognised, and there is an attempt to recast it, drawing on Bernstein 1996. This is followed by a discussion of ritual as an invaluable analytic concept, and it is then proposed that it may be more productive to distinguish between learning in situations in which language is bound up with an active sense of potentially problematic social, cultural or ethnic otherness, and situations where the acquisition of additional languages is treated as a relatively taken-for-granted, within-group matter-ofcourse. Towards the end, the paper addresses some of the immediate educational ramifications of this reformulation, and it concludes with some comments on ways in which these ideas might be further explored.