A Language School as a Complex System

I am very proud to announce the publication of my latest book, A Language School as a Complex System (Peter Lang). 

In the book, I make that case that many phenomena that interest us in language education can be helpfuly viewed through the lens of complex systems theory, or complexity. Readers of this blog will already know that this is something of a pet topic: I have published a few articles, individually and with colleagues, where we show how complexity can be usefully employed in the study of language learning. In the book, I draw all these loose ends together, and I present my current understanding of what complexity is, how it has been used in fields like applied linguistics, education theory and the psychology of language learning, and what it can offer.

In the empirical part of the book, I take a focused look on a language school (in fact, the one where I had conducted my doctoral research), and show how it can be described as a complex system. Such a description, I argue, must discuss four aspects of the system. These are:

  • a delineation of all the forms of teaching and learning conceivably available to the school (the state space of the school);
  • a description of the forms of teaching and learning that are made more likely, taking into account the resources available (the affordances present to the school)
  • an overview of the main motivational drivers that can be identified in the school (the intentionalities in the school); and finally,
  • a presentation of the forms of teaching and learning that actually take place (the attractors at the school).

My intention, when writing this book, was to present a worked example of what a complexity-informed description might look like. It is my hope that readers might find this four-component framework useful as scaffolding for thinking about phenomena that interest them.

My publishers are keen that I make you aware that the book can be ordered through Amazon, or directly from their webpage. I have tried to keep the price down by forfeiting any royalties, and I hope that you find the content of the book interesting enough to justify investing the price the publishers charge. I will be publishing selected extracts in this space, and I am looking forward to your feedback!

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