Tracing dynamics of intentions in Greek ELT

It seems that Juup and I will be presenting papers in this year’s BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG conference. Here’s a copy of my abstract… 

Tracing dynamics of intentions in Greek ELT

This paper uses empirical data from a case study of a language school in Greece to present a complexity-informed view of intentionality in English Language Teaching (ELT). Conceptually, it extends existing understandings of intentionality (Stelma 2011; Young, DePalma, & Garrett 2002) by shifting the focus to its collective properties, and at the same time it offers insights into ELT practices at the ‘periphery’ of the English-using world.

I begin by defining intentionality as a driver of activity within a complex system. Intentionalities are collective and emergent, properties which are illustrated with reference to examples of intentionalities present in a language school. These include: (a) a protectionist agenda, which valorises local forms of expertise; (b) a concern with language certification; (c) an aspiration to integrate in transnational discourse communities; (d) Anglophile impulses; and (e) a preoccupation with supplementing state ELT provision. It is then suggested that intentionalities interrelate as broader dynamics of intentions.

Next, I illustrate the generative potential of intentionalities by juxtaposing pedagogical practices at the early and late stages of instruction at the language school. In the former, pedagogy is informed by traditional understandings of language and learning and aligned to mainstream Greek education. By contrast, in the later years, pedagogy is in line with communicative practices associated with global ELT. This difference is explained as an outcome of differing dynamics of intentions.

The paper concludes by arguing that local forms of ELT can be understood with reference to intentionality, and by suggesting implications for the study of local pedagogy against a backdrop of globalization.

Works Cited

Stelma, J. (2011). An ecological model of developing researcher competence: the case of software technology in doctoral research. Instructional Science, 39(3), 367-385. doi: 10.1007/s11251-010-9132-7

Young, M., DePalma, A., & Garrett, S. (2002). Situations, interaction, process and affordances: An ecological psychology perspective. Instructional Science, 30(1), 47-63. doi:10.1023/a:1013537432164