Achilleas Kostoulas

Applied Linguistics & Language Teacher Education

Fingers typing on keyboard

Challenging Boundaries in Language Education

A few days ago, I signed the contract for a forthcoming volume which I am editing. The new book, entitled Challenging Boundaries in Language Education, will be published by Springer within the Second Language Learning and Teaching series, and we are aiming for a publication date towards the end of 2019.

What is this book about?

In a plenary address delivered to the JALT 1996: Crossing Borders international conference, more than 20 years ago, Julian Edge remarked on the prevalence of borders that language teachers are constantly faced with:

…the physical, the cultural, the political, the geographical, the psychological, the social, the personal – and that is without even beginning to consider what might be seen as the core, professional borders of language and pedagogic style. (Edge 1996: 2)

In the years since, interdisciplinary outlooks have become increasingly popular in language education, but there is still a very visible sense of compartmentalisation, both in our informing theories and in the practice of language teaching. This volume is premised on the belief that there is a need for more shared discourse that challenges persisting borders: discourse that might bring closer those of us whose interests lie in different languages; discourse that will enable synergies between diverse theoretical perspectives; and discourse that might help to bridge the theory-practice divide.

What will be in this book?

The edited collection will comprise three parts (framed by an introduction and a conclusion). These roughly correspond to three ways in which we can re-think language education: (a) as praxis that goes beyond ‘just teaching’; (b) as a process of teaching and learning that goes beyond ‘just language’; and (c) as a process of education that is being transformed by globalisation and transnational mobility.

Part A

The five chapters that make up the first part aim to challenge how we think about language education, by moving beyond the boundaries of the classroom, as it were, and towards a broader view that brings the person-who-educates in the spotlight. The section will begin by establishing a common ground, and outlining how language education has tended to be perceived. It then extends the discussion by tracing the interconnections of language teaching and learning with affiliated disciplines, such as language teacher education, and language teacher psychology.

The chapters that make up this section are:

  • A journey through the landscapes of (foreign) language teacher education (Janez Skela);
  • Repositioning English Language Teaching: From boundaries to connections? (Achilleas Kostoulas);
  • Language education as intentional and critical action (Juup Stelma & Richard Fay)
  • It’s time for understanding(s): the recursive cycle of language pedagogy and classroom enquiry (Anna Costantino);
  • Blurry borders: Perspectives from three university EFL/ESL teachers on work-life balance and teacher professional well-being (Kyle Talbot & Sonja Babić).

Part B

The next five chapters take a focused look at the boundary-crossing acts that take place within the language classroom. Some contributions in this part examine ways to merge language teaching with other curricular aims. Others extend our theoretical and practical understanding of how this merging of linguistic and other aims can take place.

The titles of these chapters are:

  • Challenging boundaries in the CLIL classroom: An e-learning teacher training programme (Katerina Vourdanou);
  • Beyond the Garrison: Global education and teaching (Canadian) literature in the EFL classroom (Jürgen Wehrmann);
  • Building a model engine for language learning with tertiary engineering students (Dietmar Tatzl);
  • Across languages and cultures (Claudia Mewald).

Part C

The final set of chapters invites readers to problematize how contemporary processes of globalisation and transnational mobility are transforming traditional conceptualisations of language teaching and learning. As the contributions in this section suggest, language education encompasses new populations, new contexts of learning and new frames of reference, and this is also associated with new challenges.

These chapters are:

  • Thinking outside the box: The impact of globalization on English language teachers in Austria (Alia Moser & Petra Kletzenbauer);
  • Study abroad: Examining L2 self-efficacy and engagement in intercultural interactions (Gianna Hessel);
  • Language in educational spaces: Multilingual realities at schools in Vienna and Brno (Lena Schwarzl & Eva Vetter);
  • Beyond conventional borders of second language teachers’ training: A digital, interdisciplinary and critical postgraduate curriculum (Roula Kitsiou, Maria Papadopoulou, George Androulakis, Roula Tsokalidou & Eleni Skourtou).

As editor of this book, I am proud of this collection of chapters, which I believe showcases the diversity and vibrance of language education as a field, and teases out a number of unifying themes. The chapters themselves, many of which are based on presentations at the Language Education Across Borders conference, promise to be theoretically strong, empirically rigorous, and thought-provoking, and I have full confidence that they will comfortably succeed in challenging and expanding the way we think about language education. Although we are still a long way from the publication date, I am looking forward to seeing this volume in print, and I hope that it is something you will enjoy engaging with.

Featured Image: eye/see @ flickr  (CC BY-NC-ND)


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