2014 PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS EXPLICIT CRITICAL LANGUAGE AWARENESS: WHAT ARE WE REALLY DOING IN OUR LINGUISTICS COURSES?
A parallel development towards the inclusion of a wider social critical concern has also taken place in pedagogical theory. In addition to their classical concern about the efficiency of teaching methods for the dissemination of content knowledge, pedagogy scholars have become engaged in an examination of the many ways in which educational content, methodologies and institutions conspire to perpetuate social privilege and inequalities (Freire 1970, Giroux 1988). In many parts of the world, including the United States, higher education has to some extent assimilated this criticism, and has responded by reformulating its role as one in support of democratic development and the promotion of human rights, equality and social justice. (1)
In the past few decades, teaching in areas widely related to linguistics (i.e. 'applied linguistics' in the broad sense) has accrued a strong tradition of critical pedagogical engagement, especially as relates to language teaching and literacy development (e.g. Leeman, Rabin & Roman-Mendoza 2011, Martinez 2003, Pennycook 1999, Raziar & Rumenapp 2012, Valdes 1981, 1995; on this point, see section 4 below). Critical questioning, however, has been much less prevalent in linguistics research not directly concerned with pedagogy. As a consequence, teaching in these areas of linguistics is still by and large unconcerned with the questions foregrounded by critical approaches in other areas: discussion on issues such as language rights, sociolinguistic fairness, accent-based discrimination, or power inequalities in language practice and policy is generally absent from standard approaches to the study of linguistics in the classroom, especially from introductory levels. Despite some notable exceptions (i.e. Behrens & Parker 2010), textbooks for introductory linguistics courses in higher education continue to be concerned mostly with the description and analysis of language structure, diachronic processes, or language acquisition. Despite the fact that the introductory course to linguistics is often the only course with an explicit focus on language structure and use that many students will take throughout the whole course of their academic careers, this area of pedagogy has so far remained virtually unexamined from a critical perspective. Moreover, there is a dearth of quantitative studies among critical approaches to language and linguistics teaching to date.
This study represents an attempt to start filling this gap in the study of the interface between critical pedagogy and the teaching of linguistics. This research draws from the literature on three areas: language ideology, critical language pedagogy, and social psychology, and it is based on quantitative data obtained from a pilot project designed to measure the development of explicit critical language awareness among students in introductory linguistics courses. Overall, this research represents a first step to understand the reality of introductory instruction in linguistics in regards to the development of critical thinking skills. It is also a contribution to assess the role that linguistics pedagogy plays within the larger, self-stated democratic, socially critical mission of 21st-century higher education institutions.
Before presenting the design of this pilot project, the analysis of the data and their discussion, it will be necessary to contextualize this study within the research on language ideologies, critical language pedagogy, and social cognition.
2. LANGUAGE IDEOLOGIES. Over the past several decades, the concept of IDEOLOGY has permeated the analysis of social structure and cultural phenomena. Ideology is, as defined by Stoneman, 'a set of overarching, unified assertions about the way social conditions are or ought to be' (2014: 106). Ideologies are not universal, but temporally, geographically and culturally contingent: they reflect 'cultural conceptions which are partial, contestable and contested, and interest-laden' (Woolard & Schieffelin 1994:58). Insofar as ideologies stem from a given understanding of the degree to which individual and collective behavior mirrors an assumed natural social state, they have been credited with regulating and legitimizing the distribution of power and privilege.
Ideological constructs may be seen as shaping every area of human thought and endeavor, including discourses on language and its use. Thus, LANGUAGE IDEOLOGIES are the sum of beliefs and assumptions about the nature of language structure and about the distribution of linguistic practices that are taken to be common-sense and unquestioned within a community (Cameron 1995, Fairclough 2001, Fuller 2013, Milroy 2000, 2001, Rumsey 1990, Woolard 1998, among many others). Language ideologies are at the root of collective attitudes not just towards different language varieties and linguistic practices, but also towards their speakers (Koskrity 2004, see also the concepts of INDEXICALITY in Hill 1998 and ICONICITY in Fuller 2013:7). They imbue language practices and codes with symbolic power (Bourdieu 1991), which in turn grants speakers different degrees of economic, cultural and social influence (see SOCIAL CAPITAL, Bourdieu 1991). Together with other levels of ideological production and reproduction, language ideologies became engrained in subconscious modes of thought and behavior as HABITUS: 'the way society becomes deposited in persons in the form of lasting dispositions, or trained capacities and structured propensities to think, feel and act in determinant ways, which then guide them' (Wacquant 2004: 316, following Bourdieu 1977). (2)
Literature on language ideologies has placed great emphasis on locating and describing the mechanisms whereby ideological constructs on language come to be shared by human communities and perpetuated over time, that is, NATURALIZED (see Fairclough 2001, Fuller 2013, Koskrity 1998). Ideological naturalization is, more often than not, implicit, because subjects are not made explicitly aware of the contingency of the ideological constructions they uphold, which diminishes the chances that such constructions may be questioned or opposed. Dominant ideologies 'appear to be NEUTRAL in struggles for power, which is tantamount to [them] being placed outside ideology' (Fairclough 2001: 76, author's emphasis). Following Gramsci's (1971) classical treatment of hegemonic ideologies, naturalization is said to occur as a consequence of both COERCION and CONSENT: alternatives are presented as illogical, reprehensible, dangerous, or illegal, while behavior that is consistent with the dominant ideology is esteemed, promoted, rewarded, or otherwise positively sanctioned. Although much literature underscores the processes whereby traditionally disadvantaged communities can constitute loci of counter-hegemonic linguistic ideological contention (e.g. Achugar 2008, Garcia and Wei 2014, Koskrity 2004), a common social culprit is identified in this literature as the primary source of pervasive ideological influence: '[p]ractices which appear to be universal and commonsensical can often be shown to originate in the dominant class or the dominant bloc' (Fairclough 2001: 27). Following Althusser's (1971) classical treatment of ideological state apparatuses, institutions that have been traditionally dominated by economically and politically influential groups have been often identified as sources of propagation and perpetuation of linguistic ideologies: the media, the legal system, religious organizations, and most prominently, the education system.
Perhaps nowhere else is the influence of educational systems in many societies as clear in the propagation and maintenance of hegemonical ideological constructs as in the case of ideas related to the value of standard languages, commonly known as the STANDARD LANGUAGE IDEOLOGY: 'a bias towards an abstracted, idealized, homogeneous spoken language which is imposed and maintained by dominant bloc institutions and which names as its model the written language, but which is drawn primarily from the spoken language of the upper middle class' (Lippi-Green 2012: 67). The myriad ways in which educational systems contribute to naturalize ways of thought and behavior about the value of the standard language may be seen as promoting coercion and consent at different levels. For instance, students are penalized for failing to reproduce standard language forms, but they are also invited to believe in the benefits that consensual allegiance to standard language use will have for their professional future. Educational systems are trusted stewards of forms of intervention on language practices that are widely assumed to be necessary: language use needs to be sanitized, regulated, rationalized, controlled, and schools are a key part of such processes (Cameron 1995, Cheshire 1982, Lippi-Green 2012, Siegel 2006, Valdes et. al. 2008). From this point of view, if education systems play a determinant role in the naturalization of ideological constructs such as the standard language ideology, it is because they are effective in the modeling of linguistic habitus, by reproducing, modelling, and rewarding modes of thought and behavior about self and others that are based on assigning different symbolic meanings and unequal degrees of social capital to different language practices.
3. LINGUISTIC IDEOLOGY AS AN ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE AND THE FALLACY OF EGALITARIANISM. From its inception as a self-aware discipline in the 19th century, linguistics has often claimed ideological neutrality, sometimes explicitly so through declarations of interest in description rather than prescription: 'the bottom line for linguistics is that the analysis of language must reflect the way it is actually used, not someone's idealized vision of how it should be used' (O'Grady et al. 2005: 7). Oftentimes, linguistics has claimed independence from ideology via its efforts to be recognized as a field of scientific inquiry, thus positioning itself at one end of a dichotomy (ideology vs. science) that is widely accepted in Western culture. (3) In this dichotomy, science is 'regulated by specific rules such as the logic of the experimental method and empirical references,' while 'the propositions of ideology are anti-empirical, shy away from counter-examples, are confusional, and are underpinned by an attitude that is potentially maniacal and omnipotent' (Canestrari 1996:97). As Pennycook observes, however, this apparent dichotomy obscures the many ways in which the construction of assumedly objective scientific knowledge within linguistics also responds to underlying assumptions about how the behavior of individuals and communities should be described and made sense of, which are in turn informed by ideological positions that are anything but neutral (2001:51).
An example of how seemingly objective treatments of language may simultaneously reveal the implicit operation of widely-held ideologies on language is provided by Winford (2003) in his analysis of larger trends in the treatment of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). As shown by Winford, ideological bias is widely present in academic discourse on this dialect, otherwise concerned, at least in principle, with treating AAVE as a rule-governed (i.e. linguistically fully articulated) code. This bias surfaces, for instance, in the way this dialect has customarily been explained by sociolinguists as a divergence from 'English', rather than as the product of many forms of linguistic continuity and innovation. This discourse on AAVE tacitly constructs its history simultaneously as historically subordinate vis-a-vis 'central' European language communities, or somehow 'different' from the 'normal' linguistic history of other language varieties. The presentation of AAVE as a subordinate code also surfaces in its treatment as the sum of those structural features which are not found in standard varieties, which implicitly deprives AAVE of a full grammar, instead presenting it as a 'derivative, if not a deviant, form of Standard] E[nglish]' (2003:29). Despite the continued claims of objectivity and science status by academic linguistics, underlying discourses in linguistics research are very often a lot closer to popular ideas on language structure and use than linguists themselves tend to acknowledge (Milroy 2000, 2001).
Pennycook articulates an even harsher critique of linguistics as a discipline, and especially of sociolinguistics, which has for several decades now been entrusted with marrying linguistic inquiry with attention to social structure. For Pennycook, although sociolinguistics often claims to draw connections between individual linguistic practices and their wider political and cultural embedding, a truly critical sociolinguistics can happen 'only to the extent that it has a critical sociology as part of its makeup; that is to say, it needs a form of sociology that aims not merely to describe social formations such as class or gender but also to critique the ways in which social formations are linked to power and inequality' (Pennycook 1999:331). In Pennycook's view, sociolinguistics as a field has failed to adopt such a critical stance. What these and other critical assessments of academic linguistics are ultimately doing is to underscore the fact that all metalinguistic discourse is necessarily ideological, and that no such thing as ideological neutral metalinguistic discourse exists (Del Valle 2013, Grace 1991, 1993, Pennycook 2001, Williams 1992). From this point of view, objectivity and neutrality claims constitute yet another discursive naturalizing strategy.
Since ideology can be seen to substantiate academic discourse in linguistics as a discipline, pedagogy in linguistics can be expected to reproduce many of the same ideological tenets as the metalinguistic discourses that it attempts to propagate. Again, the standard language ideology provides us with an illustrative example. At an explicit level, statements on the linguistic regularity and completeness of all language varieties have by now become a staple of linguistics textbooks. (4) The axiom of linguistic parity among all language varieties, however, poses a challenge for pedagogical approaches to linguistics and language teaching, where educational structures, curricula, and the larger society expect educators to uphold the primacy of standard languages. This contrast between overt linguistic discourse and assumed expectations for pedagogical practice have given rise to what Pennycook (1999, 2001) and Siegler (2010), following Giroux (1988), call the EGALITARIAN IDEOLOGY: '[t]he belief that despite differences in race, ethnicity, language, values and lifestyles, there is a basic equality among different ethnic and cultural groups, and with mutual respect and understanding, they can live happily together [...]'. From a critical point of view, the problem with this presentation of reality is that it 'blinds people to the differentials in advantage and privilege that do exist between various social groups - that some groups are clearly dominant over others [...] and that subordinate groups may suffer from injustices' (Siegel 2010:226; for a similar reflection, see Giroux 1988:229). In the field of linguistics and language teaching, egalitarian reasoning presents the standard language as being equally available to everybody, and standard language practices are in turn credited for providing a democratic way of accessing economic, social and political capital. (5) This line of reasoning erases the historical rooting of standard languages in the language practices of social groups with high degrees of social and economic capital (see, for instance, Nevalainen 2003 for British English and Tuten & Tejedo-Herrero 2011 for Spanish). It also ignores the proven role of educational policies that privilege the standard language in perpetuating academic achievement gaps among students whose home language varieties are seen as being unacceptably far from the standard (e.g. Siegel 2010:157-91). In turn, pedagogical practices that enshrine the standard language as the preferential object of linguistic analysis reinforce pre-established language hierarchies and contribute to the marginalization of other forms of linguistic variation.
From a critical point of view, therefore, pedagogy in linguistics and other closely related areas has fallen into the same trap as the overall discipline of linguistics: it has espoused a criticism of beliefs on language without necessarily promoting a criticism of social structure and of the assumptions that permeate linguistic discourse itself. As a consequence, pedagogical practice in the teaching of language and linguistics can often be seen as collaborating in the naturalization of the very modes of thought about language that it purportedly intends to overturn.
4. CRITICAL LANGUAGE PEDAGOGY AND THE ISSUE OF AWARENESS. The realization that education systems constitute primary sites for the promotion and perpetuation of hegemonical discourses has brought pedagogical practice to the forefront of debates on social inequality. Within this line of enquiry, attention focuses on areas where the connection between educational practices and power structures is most obvious, such as language policies and assessment practices, but also 'the societal context in which learning takes place, roles and relationships in the classroom and outside, kinds of learning tasks, and the content of the language that is learned' (Benson 1997:32). From this perspective, CRITICAL PEDAGOGY (proposed in its seminal form by Freire 1970 and Giroux 1988) seeks to promote a radical exploration of the way in which educational systems and instructional practices institutionalize instructors and students into accepted (i.e. naturalized) forms of citizenship:
[c]ritical pedagogy takes up issues of identity and sees education as a site where students are socialized into particular subject positions and social roles. Rather than socializing students as unquestioning recipients of dominant social and linguistic hierarchies, critical educators seek to identify and challenge educational practices that reify those hierarchies and power relations (Leeman, Rabin & Roman-Mendoza 2011:481-2).
The translation of critical pedagogy into language-related instruction gives rise to CRITICAL LANGUAGE PEDAGOGY, which 'seek[s] to help students gain critical understanding of how language is intertwined with social and political structures' (481), and which should 'highlight the relationship between language, power and social groups' (Martinez 2003:6). The desired goal of critical pedagogy is the development of CRITICAL AGENCY, where educational discourses and practice translate into new forms of thinking and acting: 'thoughtful consideration of one's ability to take action, exploration of the various types of actions that one might take, examination of the consequences and implications of those actions (or of not taking action), and reflection of the differences in options and consequences available to different social actors' (485).
A primary goal of all critical pedagogy is the development of student AWARENESS, which has been conceptualized in slightly different ways in the literature. For Pennycook, it involves the development and inclusion of students' VOICE in the learning process: 'Voice in this context is understood as far more than just speaking; rather, it is a broader understanding of developing the possibilities to articulate alternative realities [...]. It is less about the medium of voice (speaking, writing, etc.) and more about finding possibilities of articulation' (2001:130). Voice, therefore, is more than just an individual's linguistic identity. However, insofar as language practices, including dialect, are connected indexically to social identities and the degree of symbolic capital such identities are assigned, linguistic features and practices become a primary area of attention for critical language pedagogy. This link is at the basis of the concept of CRITICAL LANGUAGE AWARENESS, which is usually presented as the ability to recognize and reflect on the arbitrary link between linguistic practices and their various cultural meanings, as well as on the role played by the arbitrary symbolic meanings of language practices in enhancing or diminishing the power of individuals and communities. For Fairclough, the difference between language awareness and critical language awareness is that while the former focuses only on the description of language structure and patterns of use, and is largely limited to the classroom, the latter seeks to uncover the operation of language ideologies in the distribution of power and, ultimately, to encourage students and teachers to participate in the articulation of alternatives (1992:193-202). Similarly, Martinez (2003:6) proposes a critically, socially-informed approach to language variation (see CLASSROOM BASED DIALECT AWARENESS) that 'engage[s] not only questions of code but also questions of structure, and it must highlight the relationship between language, power and social groups' (2003:6). Ultimately, as is the case with other critical approaches to pedagogy, the goal should be a change in students' awareness about self and society that prepares the way for change in society at large. As Martinez states, critical pedagogy practitioners hope that this approach 'will allow [their students] to rise above the essentialist ideologies that regard their language and, indeed, their own selves as inferior' (9). Critical language pedagogical proposals do not necessarily reject the idea of teaching the standard language, but, in Siegel's words, 'only when it is done while critically analysing existing practices and ideologies that legimitise the stigmatisation and exclusion of particular language varieties in the educational processes' (2010:229). The question for linguists and language practitioners, then, becomes how to incorporate language variation into pedagogical environments which have historically operated to delegitimize and marginalize language practices other than the standard, as well as the social identities that such practices signal.
The possibility of a critical approach to language and linguistics pedagogy undoubtedly offers an attractive model with which to engage students in an examination of the interface between language and society and to promote social change via pedagogical practice. At the same time, however, this type of approach poses a number of questions. One such question is the issue of awareness. From a practical point of view, is conscious awareness a sufficient condition for agency? Conscious awareness is usually posited as a necessary pre-condition for critically informed action, usually referred to as EMANCIPATION in critical language literature (Fairclough 1992, Jans & Ivanic 1992): 'by making people aware of forms of linguistic and ideological oppression, there are possibilities for forms of emancipation' (Pennycook 2001:39-40). Note that the key word here is possibility: the connection between more or less explicit pedagogical practices and individual mind-to-action change cannot be taken for granted. As a matter of fact, awareness about orders of oppression and disadvantage may, after all, lead to cynicism and pessimism about the possibility for action and change: precisely the opposite of what critical pedagogy proponents advocate for (Pennycook 1999:336). Critical literature in language contexts shows that critical pedagogies may effectively trigger changes in student and instructor views (e.g. Calderon 2002, Leeman, Rabin & Roman-Mendoza 2011, Rivera 1999). What can be said with certainty is that at least some degree of critical language awareness is a necessary (although not sufficient) pre-condition for critical thought and more engaged modes of behavior.
Even if we accept that critical pedagogy can trigger changes in individual agency, a related problem is the degree to which explicit modes of instruction can successfully address implicit forms of shared social knowledge. Precisely because the workings of ideology are more pervasive when they become naturalized and, therefore, are not apparent and explicit to the members of a community any more, it can be difficult to identify the point at which a given ideological construction becomes implicit. According to Koskrity,' [s]uccessfully "naturalized" beliefs and practices... are not publically challenged and seldom enter members' discursive consciousness. Any rethinking of language ideology that would exclude naturalized, dominant ideologies and thus analytically segregate beliefs about language according to the criterion of consciousness seems... unwise' (1998:117). Language ideologies are part of the very fabric of everyday relationships in society, and these are often embedded in our behavior (i.e. part of our habitus, in Bourdieu's terms) in ways that resist being brought to the surface.
Even though most of the operation of language ideology happens at an implicit, subconscious level, as argued by Razfar and Rumenapp (2012), language ideologies are commonly materialized in very explicit terms. These include, for instance, language and educational policies, folk judgements and beliefs about the social status of languages and varieties, discourses on the connection between language and nation, and other forms of metalinguistic formulations at the social level. Metalinguistic discourse is important because it provides us with a 'tip of the ideological iceberg' that is visible and, as such, can be challenged critically. Razfar and Rumenapp see explicit critical discourse in the classroom as a powerful tool in the generation of student awareness: '[m]aking language ideologies explicit opens the classroom as a site where teachers and students can contest hegemonic symbolic relations and inequitable power structures, and seek transformative change' (365).
The potential visibility of explicit metalinguistic discourse has important methodological implications for research on critical language pedagogies. Most research on critical pedagogies is qualitative, despite the potential of quantitative methods to understand the relation between social factors and institutional patterns of inequality in educational contexts (Ferrare 2009). If the success of a critical pedagogy is defined as having effected a change in students' thinking, this success (effectively an objective) can only be assessed insofar as it can be shown to have happened. We propose that at least some of the consequences of this change, if present, should be measurable. Because language ideologies are often materialized in terms of explicit formulations about the connection between language varieties and their speakers, it is legitimate to expect that a critical attitude about such ideologies should materialize first in a heightened degree of skepticism about such commonplace formulations, and that such changes of consciousness should be susceptible to be measured in a direct way.
5. A CRITIQUE OF THE CRITICAL: THE ' PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSOR' AND INTRODUCTORY LINGUISTICS COURSES. A question that is relevant to the study of pedagogy in language and linguistics from a critical point of view concerns the very construction of critical language pedagogy as a field of academic research. The examination of literature on critical language pedagogy reflects the concentration of academic discourse on several areas. These include, most prominently, pedagogy on students whose language is markedly different from the standard: for instance, Smitherman (1977) and Wible (2006) for AAVE or Van Sickle, Aina and Blake (2002) for Gullah; Pennycook (1999), Razfaz & Rumenapp (2012) or Siegel (2006) on ESL students; and an abundant body of bibliography on heritage language students, as in the case of Spanish in the United States (among many others, Calderon 2002, Leeman, Rabin & Roman-Mendoza 2011, Martinez 2003, Parodi 2008, Valdes 1981, 1995, Valdes et al. 2008). This concentration of literature is far from surprising in light of the fact that, as discussed, a direct or indirect goal of critical language pedagogy is to empower students in articulating and materializing a subject voice, and it is precisely in students from communities whose access to overt forms of power is limited that we may expect discourses on language (in)adequacy to have operated most actively to restrict the development of such subject positions (working-class groups, immigrants, non-native speakers, ethnically marked communities, etc.).
However, this pattern also begs the question of whether critical questioning should come only from those who are most openly disadvantaged by hegemonical discourses. To put it more bluntly, should critical pedagogy only be a PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED (Freire 1970)? By emphasizing the need for educators to work towards the emancipation of disempowered communities, is critical (language) pedagogy missing an opportunity to effect change also among those students who are most likely to find personal advantage in not questioning the ideological status quo? For those of us working in higher education environments, the challenge is not only to incite awareness about structural inequality among students from communities where these inequalities are more clear, but also to arouse such questioning from students whose identity constructions often align closely with the ideological (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, ability, linguistic, etc.) unmarked. The challenge, therefore, is to construct a 'critical multiculturalism that seeks to move those who consciously or unconsciously surveil the hegemony of the oppressor from their comfortable, "neutral" place towards a transformed and deliberate monitoring of a type of social justice that is in alliance with the oppressed' (Allen & Rossatto 2009:164). By now, much critical pedagogy work acknowledges that social order is often a lot more complicated than a two-fold division between oppressors and oppressed, and that individuals embody different subject positions in their lives that place them in subordinate and dominant positions alternatively (e.g. Janks & Ivanic 1992). Consequently, we believe that critical research and critical pedagogy should be concerned with creating awareness and inciting agency among all students and not just among those who may have experienced inequality in a more immediate or overt manner.
Because of the potential of critical language pedagogy to trigger changes in language awareness among different groups of students, it is surprising that virtually no critical work has so far been done on higher education linguistics pedagogy outside what are traditionally considered 'applied' areas. Most significantly, critical language pedagogy has so far skirted introductory linguistics courses. These courses, however, are a key piece of the curriculum exposing students to overt discourses on language in their academic careers: for undergraduate students outside linguistics programs, even for language majors, the introduction to linguistics course is likely to be the only course (if at all) they will ever take where they will be asked to engage in a principled analysis of language structure and use. Most significantly, these introductory courses have the potential to trigger a change of language awareness among many students who will be eventually in positions from which to supervise the language of others, such as teacher candidates (Curzan 2002, 2013). Although students enrolling in these courses represent a cross-section of college students, there is very little research on whether students' views on language and its users are significantly modified as a result of introductory linguistics coursework (for an exception from an non-critical paradigm, see Bowie 2013). In these courses, students are routinely exposed to linguistic axioms that challenge some of the assumptions of popular views on language, e.g., that the criterion of language correctness is not intrinsically linguistic, that all language varieties are rule-governed, that they have legitimate histories, etc. It is legitimate to wonder, therefore, whether students are effectively incorporating these views of language (language awareness, in Fairclough's terms) into their view of society and whether this incorporation is triggering changes in their way of thinking about language users and the role of language in legitimizing patterns of inequality in social and cultural behavior (critical language awareness). Our understanding of the degree to which college-level students are being engaged in a critical examination of the relationship between language discourses and power hierarchies would benefit greatly from data emerging from introductory linguistics pedagogy, and this paper represents a first step in that direction.
6. A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY PERSPECTIVE: EXPLICIT vs. IMPLICIT COGNITION. The examination of how individuals construct and react to perceived social differences that is central to literature on ideology has also been tackled by social psychologists. Within this line of research, the focus is on how social and cultural constructions affect human behavior, and the extent to which such behavioral effects are predictable or measurable. Social psychologists have debated whether social cognition (i.e., the sum of the cognitive processes involved in the construction and retrieval of information on social categories in the individual's brain) is conscious or unconscious. In this respect, unconscious or implicit cognitive processes consist of 'traces of past experience [that] affect some performance, even though the influential earlier experience is not remembered in the usual sense - that is, it is unavailable to self-report or introspection' (Greenwald & Banaji 1995:4-5). It is by now clear that much of what constitutes our social cognition occurs in such an implicit, unconscious mode. The basis of our predispositions and reactions to others are often below the level of consciousness, and our social behavior is largely automatic (Bargh 1997, Bargh & Williams 2006, Cohen 1997, Deutsch & Strack 2010, Greenwald & Banaji 1995). A good example of the unconscious automaticity of social cognition is AVERSE DISCRIMINATION, that is, the conflict between a subject's explicit formulated beliefs of non-discrimination towards given social categories and that subject's observable discriminatory behavior towards individuals who are perceived as belonging to those categories (Gaertner & Dovidio 1986, Banaji & Greenwald 1994).
Just as seen in the literature on ideology, social psychology as a field of research is well aware that social cognition is a key part of culture at large (Cohen 1997:124):
Our behaviors are driven by processes, evaluations and interpretations that just seem to be automatic, uncontrollable results of [the environment]. What makes such processes cultural is that everyone in our group has a common, shared understanding, and that with similar environmental inputs, we get strikingly similar results across people [....]. It is not a question of idiosyncratic meaning making, [but of] shared knowledge that we assume, that we believe everybody else assumes, and that is so much "in the air" that it just appears to be the way the world is.
Although social psychologists do not use the word IDEOLOGY, it is obvious that the unconscious nature of the shared processes they study makes these processes largely analogous to ideological naturalization: 'if a discourse type [becomes dominant], then it will cease to be seen as arbitrary [...] and it will come to be seen as NATURAL and legitimate because it is simply the way of conducting oneself (Fairclough 2001:76, author's emphasis; see also Bourdieu's notion of misrecognition of arbitrariness in ideology, 1977:168). Likewise, the notion of habitus as contingent, internalized modes of thinking and behaving can easily be related to the notion of IMPLICIT SOCIAL COGNITION in psychology. Consequently, reflections on the implicitness and automaticity of social cognition are therefore highly relevant to the understanding of the ideological triggers of everyday social attitudes and behaviors towards others.
In spite of the largely implicit nature of social cognition, explicit awareness does have a place in explaining social behavior, insofar as explicit awareness is seen as a frequent pre-condition to the activation of more implicit modes of cognition: preconscious (i.e., implicit processes) '[have] to be enacted or engaged in effortfully and consciously to begin with, and like any skill or mental process, only after considerable use [can] they recede into the preconscious [i.e., the automatic level]' (Bargh 1997:52). Most research in social cognition has operated under the assumption that, regardless of whether explicit beliefs guide implicit cognition and social responses, whenever there is a mismatch between an individual's explicit and implicit cognition, this mismatch tends to be between an explicit disavowal of prejudice and implicit (i.e., automatic) prejudiced reactions: 'the paradigm of implicit social cognition rests on the notion that attitudes, prejudice, stereotypes, and the self may have an impact on behavior that sometimes opposes beliefs and intentions' (Deutsch & Strack 2010:63; see also averse discrimination above). However, as Brownstein and Madva (2012) show, the opposite is also theoretically true (i.e., people who explicitly endorse prejudiced beliefs but exhibit unconsciously egalitarian behavior). This point is potentially important, because if it can be shown that changes in well-established patterns of implicit cognition can derive from sources other than exposure to explicit forms of cognition (e.g. education on specific topics, consistent social practices, formulations of social equality, etc.), then the social behavior of an individual may become more egalitarian even if explicit formulations of egalitarianism are not present.
For this paper, we follow Cohen's (1997:127) rationale that changes in preconscious, automatic attitudes and behavior can proceed independently of preceding explicit cognition elements only in situations when there is little to no competition among alternative cultural models of behavior:
[t]he implicit versus explicit nature of socialization might be a function of how widely shared the cultural stance is and how new it is.... [I]f there are competing models for how to behave in a culture, socialization may have to be more explicit. A model may have to shout to be heard above the others. If a model, however, is widely shared, socialization may be more implicit, the assumptions of a cultural stance never having to be made apparent.
In the case of the questioning of normative beliefs on language that are widely shared (such as the standard language ideology), it is reasonable to expect that new modes of thinking about speakers and their place in society (new 'competing models' in Cohen's terms) will have to be explicitly formulated first and accepted as valid alternatives before the corresponding implicit social cognition modes and behavior changes may take place.
When considering language ideologies in the linguistics classroom, the question becomes how the difference between explicit and implicit modes of social cognition can help us conceptualize the development of critical language awareness, and whether it may be possible to gauge our students' progression throughout the course of a semester. Are our students able to make better connections between explicit formulations about language and their effects on society after taking introductory linguistics? Does the exposure to facts about language structure and language variation that is typical of introductory linguistics training contribute to modify the way our students view other people's identities and their place in society towards more acknowledging, more inclusive, more socially fair stances?
7.1. INTRODUCTION TO THE ECLA MEASURE. In proposing a way to assess the development of critical language awareness as a consequence of introductory linguistics coursework, we incorporate the findings from the literature on critical language pedagogy, critical language awareness, and social cognition reviewed above. Specifically, we assume that changes in critical language awareness can only be triggered pedagogically at an explicit level. In other words, pedagogy cannot access implicit cognitive processes directly. What we can access is how students who are exposed to the materials and academic discourse in a typical introduction to linguistics course react verbally to elements of linguistic ideology that contradict these linguistic 'facts of life' (see Lippi-Green 2012), and whether these reactions change significantly between the beginning and the end of the semester. If students are effectively being led to think critically about these commonplace connections between language use and social structure as a result of their introductory linguistics training, we expect that they will tend to disagree with explicit statements that rest on misconceptions about language structure and language variation more frequently at the end of the semester than at the beginning of the semester. We also expect that they will tend to identify more often with social views that evidence an appreciation of language diversity as an element of legitimate cultural diversity. We term this level of critical language awareness as EXPLICIT CRITICAL LANGUAGE AWARENESS (ECLA), which we define as follows:
Verbalized awareness about the rule-governed, variable nature of human language, about the mismatch between these factors and collective constructions of language communities, and about the consequences of these mismatches for the members of these communities as stemming from social as well as one's own attitudes.
Following the rationale presented above that social models contradicting well-established patterns of socialization must be activated explicitly before changes in implicit cognition are achieved, we consider this type of explicit awareness a common pre-condition to a more implicit detachment from non-egalitarian stereotypes and attitudes. Critical agency, which as described in the literature stems from a conscious decision by the individual to make behavioral decisions based on the effect these decisions will have on others, does not per se require changes in implicit cognition, but it does follow changes in explicit awareness. The relationship between these two forms of awareness and critical agency is displayed in Figure 1 below. Following the rationale established above, each of these stages is a necessary (although not sufficient) precondition for the following stage.
Note that this definition of ECLA includes two inter-related components: a purely linguistic and sociolinguistic one (la in Figure 1), consisting of awareness about the rule-governed and variable nature of human language, and a more socially relational and intrinsically critical one (lb), which consists of awareness about the mismatch between these factors and collective constructions of language communities, and the consequences of these mismatches for the members of these communities. These two levels are largely analogous to Fairclough's two-fold distinction between language awareness and critical language awareness. If introductory linguistics coursework is effective in significantly enhancing students' ECLA at either level la or both la and lb, change should be measurable in terms of enhanced performance on a test that measures elements of both purely linguistic/sociolinguistic and relational awareness.
7.2. PARTICIPANTS. Three groups of students participated in this study. The students were enrolled at a public, four-year university in southeastern Pennsylvania during the fall 2014 semester (initial N=138; valid surveys: N=108). The groups were organized as follows: (1) a control group of psychology students who were not required to take the course and who had not taken any prior coursework in linguistics (N=42), (2) a group of students taking Introduction to Linguistics during the fall 2014 semester (N=42), and (3) another group of students who had already taken Introduction to Linguistics prior to the fall 2014 semester and who were now enrolled in more advanced linguistics courses (N=27). Students in group (2) came from two different sections of the same Introduction to Linguistics course, taught by the same instructor, with the same syllabus, textbook and materials. The course took a fairly standard approach to the subject matter, with units dedicated to the study of the main formal characteristics of human language, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantic, language acquisition, language variation and language change. Although the instructor would upon occasion bring up issues such as language rights and accent-based discrimination in order to get students to reflect on the arbitrariness of popular ideas on language and the symbolic values attributed to language varieties, the bulk of the course did not have an explicit critical focus (for the catalog description of the syllabus for this class, see Appendix B). In this sense, we expect this course to be fairly representative of the standard approach to the teaching of introductory linguistics in the United States.
7.3. ECLA MEASURE AND PROCEDURE. For this pilot project, we operationalized the definition of ECLA into a survey with 21 multiple-choice questions: 9 for the linguistic/sociolinguistic component, and 12 questions for the relational component. The latter was further divided into four areas that were considered of especial relevance to current debates on language, power and identity in the United States (3 questions for each area): (a) the status of speakers of non-standard varieties, (b) connections between language use and national ideologies, (c) the treatment of linguistic variation in educational contexts, and (d) language diversity as a component of cultural diversity. For each question, three possible responses were given, each of them signaling a low, intermediate, or higher degree of ECLA. Examples (1) and (2) illustrate two sample questions from each area of the survey (for the full survey, see Appendix A):
LINGUISTIC/SOCIOLINGUISTIC ECLA SAMPLE QUESTION:
Question #7. Sign languages (for instance, ASL = American Sign Language) are commonly used as communication systems in deaf communities all over the world. Sign languages...
a. Are not real languages
b. Are real languages but with some expressive limitations vs. spoken languages
c. Are real languages
RELATIONAL ECLA SAMPLE QUESTION:
Question #18. What attitude should school administrators show towards teacher candidates who speak English fluently but with a non-native accent (for instance, an American citizen of Indian origin who speaks English fluently with a non-native accent)?
a. They should consider these candidates only if they make an effort to minimize their non-native accent
b. Consider them for the job alongside other candidates but being clear about a native accent being a preference for the job
c. Consider them for the job alongside other candidates
The survey was distributed and collected in class once at the beginning of the semester and again before the end of the semester. The collected data were treated with SPSS repeated measures ANOVAs and post-hoc tests (Scheffe), as well as a priori t-tests, in order to locate significant interactions between group and time of semester, as well as significant differences between the pre-test and post-test.
8.1. ANALYSIS OF CHANGE IN CRITICAL AWARENESS (ECLA SCORE). An Analysis of Variance revealed significant differences in the overall critical awareness of the three groups, F(2, 105) = 10, p < .05. The overall scores for each group are as follows: Group 1 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 49.85, SD = 4.4; Group 1 at the end of the semester scored M = 48.69, SD = 4.48; Group 2 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 49.57, SD = 4.77; Group 2 at the end of the semester scored M = 53.38, SD = 4.47; Group 3 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 50.66, SD = 4.86; Group 3 at the end of the semester scored M = 54.44, SD = 5.43 (see graph of group means in Figure 2 below). Post-hoc Scheffe tests revealed that the group differences are the result of differences between Group 1 and Group 3 (p = .000). Overall, Group 3 has higher critical awareness scores than Group 1. Group 2 scores did not differ significantly from Group 1 (p = .068) or Group 3 (p = .060).
The ANOVA also showed a significant effect of the beginning-end of semester measure, F(l, 105) = 8.13, p <.05. Collapsing the three groups, scores for critical awareness were significantly higher on the end of semester test. However, a significant interaction effect, F (2, 105) = 13.79, p < .05, reveals that the three groups are not showing the same increase in scores as the semester progresses. In fact, Group 1 shows a small decrease in critical awareness. A priori t-tests on beginning and end of semester scores for the three groups show that the decrease in overall awareness for Group 1 is not significant (p = .12). The increase in overall awareness for Group 3 is also not significant (p = .09). The only group that shows a significant increase in overall critical awareness is Group 2, the current introductory linguistics students (p = .00).
8.2. ANALYSIS OF CHANGE IN LINGUISTIC/SOCIOLINGUISTIC AWARENESS. An Analysis of Variance revealed significant differences in the linguistic critical awareness of the three groups, F(2, 105) = 11.17, p < .05. The overall scores for each group are as follows: Group 1 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 19.38, SD = 2.37; Group 1 at the end of the semester scored M = 19, SD = 2.4; Group 2 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 19.11, SD = 1.99; Group 2 at the end of the semester scored M = 22.1, SD = 2.49; Group 3 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 21.33, SD = 2.95; Group 3 at the end of the semester scored M = 22.26, SD = 3.1 (see graph of group means in Figure 3 below). Post-hoc Scheffe tests revealed that the group differences are the result of differences between Group 1 and Group 3 (p = .000) and Group 1 and Group 2 (p = .02). Overall, Group 3 has higher linguistic critical awareness scores than Group 1 or Group 2. The overall linguistic scores did not differ for Groups 2 and 3 (p = .102).
The ANOVA also showed a significant effect of the beginning-end of semester measure, F (1, 105) = 27.01, p <05. Collapsing the three groups, scores for critical awareness were significantly higher at the end of semester. However, a significant interaction effect, F (2, 105) = 21.92, p < .05, reveals that the three groups are not showing the same increase in scores as the semester progresses. In fact, Group 2 seems to show the highest increase in linguistic critical awareness over the course of the semester. A priori t-tests on beginning and end of semester scores for the three groups show that the decrease in relational awareness for Group 1 is not significant (p = .34). The increase in this level of awareness is significant for both Group 3, former introductory linguistic students (p = .001) and Group 2, current introductory linguistic students (p = .000).
8.3. ANALYSIS OF CHANGE IN RELATIONAL AWARENESS. An Analysis of Variance revealed significant differences in the relational critical awareness of the three groups, F(2, 105) = 5.048, p < .05. The overall scores for each group are as follows: Group 1 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 30.46, SD = 3.08; Group 1 at the end of the semester scored M = 29.69, SD = 3.36; Group 2 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 30.45, SD = 3.34; Group 2 at the end of the semester scored M = 31.39, SD = 2.78; Group 3 at the beginning of the semester scored M = 30.896, SD = 3.15; Group 3 at the end of the semester scored M = 32.19, SD = 2.88 (see graph of group means in Figure 4 below). Post-hoc Scheffe tests revealed that the group differences are the result of differences between Group 1 and Group 3 (p = .006). Overall, Group 3 has higher relational critical awareness scores than Group 1. Group 2 scores did not differ significantly from Group 1 (p = .409) or Group 3 (p = .114).
This ANOVA did not show a significant effect of the beginning-end of semester measure, F(l, 105) = .005, p >.05. Collapsing the three groups, scores for relational critical did not change over the course of the semester. There is no significant interaction between the groups and the timing of the test for relational critical awareness, F (2, 105) = 2.81, p > .05. A priori t-tests on beginning and end of semester scores for the three groups show that the decrease in relational awareness for Group 1 is not significant (p = .15). The increase in relational awareness for Group 3 is also not significant (p = 1.00). The only group that shows a significant increase in relational critical awareness is Group 2, the current linguistic students (p = .00).
9. DISCUSSION OF RESULTS AND IMPLICATIONS. The above analysis has shown that only students in Group 2 experienced a significant increase in their levels of ECLA between the beginning and the end of the semester as measured by our survey. The fact that students in Group 3, as well as the post test data for students in Group 2 are significantly higher than those for the students in the control group strongly suggests that introductory linguistics pedagogy did effectively raise the levels of explicit awareness about at least some of the elements of language structure and use contained in the survey. Moreover, these gains seem to be maintained over time, as suggested by the fact that once students have taken Introduction to Linguistics (that is, Group 3), their levels of ECLA tend to be maintained or even increase slightly. Although this longer-term maintenance beyond the semester when students have their introductory linguistics training is encouraging, it should not be taken for granted. In the context of this survey, it is not clear whether this maintenance should be attributed to the introductory linguistics coursework or to the fact that students in Group 3 were enrolled in higher-level linguistics courses at the time of taking the survey. Comparison with results obtained from students not taking any additional coursework in linguistics would give us a clearer picture of whether ECLA levels are maintained or tend to decline over time in the absence of subsequent explicit training in linguistics.
However, it is also true that the increase in ECLA levels is statistically significant mostly because of the increase in the linguistic/sociolinguistic component of the survey: students with introductory linguistic training seem to experience a statistically significant improvement in their knowledge of structural linguistics and sociolinguistics concepts during that semester, and they maintain this knowledge. Relational awareness levels do increase as well during the semester when students take Introduction to Linguistics, and although this increase is also statistically significant, it is much more limited than the increase in linguistic/sociolinguistic awareness. After that semester, students' level of relational awareness remains unchanged: it doesn't continue to develop. These results allow us to discuss a series of implications relevant to introductory linguistics pedagogy and, specifically, the effects that this pedagogy may have on the development of critical language awareness among college students.
The asymmetrical development of these two components of ECLA is important, because it sheds light on our initial question about the degree to which the standard presentation of facts of language structure and variation in introductory linguistics courses can by itself trigger an enhancement of their awareness about the connection between language facts and social structure, attitudes, and behavior. Judging from this data, these two components of ECLA do not necessarily progress in tandem. Although the students in our study significantly improved their degree of explicit awareness about purely linguistic and sociolinguistic facts after completing introductory course-work in linguistics, they exhibited much more limited gains in their explicit awareness about how these facts relate to issues of power distribution and inequality. Based on these data, it is legitimate to state that instructors should not assume that students will automatically make the connection between these two components of awareness, or that the standard conversation about the equality among languages and language varieties will by itself lead students to question the ideological bases of their own behavior towards others.
The exact reason for this asymmetry is not clear. An immediate answer could be that the focus of standard Introduction to Linguistics courses fails to include an explicit emphasis on relational awareness. The content of popular introductory linguistics textbooks appears to support this hypothesis. Although a detailed analysis of the textbooks in this area is beyond the scope of this paper, a perusal of such textbooks will reveal even to the casual observer an overwhelming degree of attention to elements of language description and analysis, while attention to the implications of these facts as giving rise to inequality and discrimination is conspicuously scarce. Consequently, by the end of a typical introductory linguistics semester, students will have had ample opportunity to discuss and explore the basic notion of linguistic parity among all language varieties and the naturalness of language variation. However, they may have not been encouraged to think about how this basic axiom is contradicted by the many ways in which individuals (including themselves) react to their own language and that of others on an everyday basis, and how this contradiction gives rise to social inequality at numerous levels.
An additional factor to explain why relational awareness seems to be much less sensitive to introductory linguistics instruction than linguistic/sociolinguistic awareness has to do with the role each form of awareness plays in shaping one's own social identity. Since relational awareness involves reflecting upon social behavior and structures and articulating one's personal response to them, it is probably harder to influence than linguistic/sociolinguistic awareness. The literature on social cognition appears to support this hypothesis. For instance, Bodenhausen, Todd and Richeson (2009) review the literature on the activation of prejudice and stereotyping, and conclude that a subject's exposure to disavowal of stereotyping behavior does not always result in successful control of that subject's conscious prejudiced behavior towards others. Whether such anti-prejudice effects occur is a function of a variety of individual, contextual and societal factors, and it is not clear whether these conditions will be sufficiently present in the classroom, even in the presence of the best-intended of critical instructors. After all, students and instructors are social beings. They live surrounded by stimuli and messages that are infinitely more prevalent than the amount of information that can be shared in the context of one college-level semester.
In this respect, it is important to consider the interface between language ideologies and other hegemonic ideological constructs. For instance, one of the questions in the relational section of our survey (Question #16) asks students about their view on the role of schools in promoting language assimilation to English. When answering this question, the student is taking a given stance vis-a-vis more than one set of ideological discourses simultaneously: on the one hand, the student will have to make an assessment about the relative value of different language proficiency alternatives (monolingualism, subtractive bilingualism, more balanced bilingualism, etc.), but also about the role of schools as the institution responsible for the spread of literacy, as well as overarching discourses on the relationship between language use, citizenship and nation. A student sitting in one of our introductory linguistics courses may have been encouraged to develop a positive view of the value of multilingualism for individuals and society as a whole, but may have a hard time reconciling this new attitude with other, potentially more engrained beliefs about what society should look like in other respects. Because ideological constructions are often shaped by discourses at a variety of levels (economic, social, cultural, linguistic, gender, etc.), they should not be expected to occupy isolated places in an individual's ideological make-up. Social cognitive research has in fact explored the concomitancy relationships occurring between areas of experience that are in principle separate (as when, for instance, perception of physical attractiveness correlates with perception of personality traits; see HALO EFFECTS, Greenwald & Banaji 1995:9). Therefore, the degree to which linguistic ideological triggers can be made explicit and deactivated will be dependent upon the individual's capacity to be aware and critical at other levels of ideological contingency as well. Since relational linguistic awareness involves the simultaneous handling of the consequences that linguistic ideologies may have for individuals at different levels of their social experience, it may be expected to be particularly sensitive to the effects of hegemonic discourses beyond the strictly linguistic ones. We believe that this inter-relatedness is an important reason to understand why the development of awareness about linguistic and sociolinguistic facts does not necessarily imply an analogous enhancement at the relational level.
Given the partial disconnect between the effects found at these two levels of ECLA development, it is legitimate to wonder whether introductory linguistics pedagogy can be an effective tool to increase our student's critical awareness about language, power and inequality. We should not, however, underestimate the potential of instruction that addresses explicit modes of awareness to effect change in the way our students react to the world around them. For instance, Greenwald & Banaji (1995) review social psychology literature that finds that increasing a subject's attention to the source of a stimulus decreases that subject's implicit response to it, and that this effect is stronger when the link between a stimulus and an unconscious reaction to it is made apparent to the subject. They conclude that '[r]esearch on the role of attention in weakening the effects of implicit cognition [...] supports consciousness raising as a strategy for avoiding unintended discrimination. When a decision maker is aware of the source and nature of a bias in judgement, that bias may effectively be anticipated and avoided' (1995:19). Similarly, Bodenhausen and Todd comment on the automaticity of stereotypes and observe that 'first-pass impressions generally arise rapidly and automatically and can be fine-tuned and elaborated when more extensive evidence is available and when more DELIBERATIVE kinds of cognitive processing are engaged' (2010:167, our emphasis). The small increase in the relational ECLA levels found in the survey may be indicative of an enhanced level of skepticism about prevalent ideas on the value of language diversity in society, and this enhancement may in turn trigger a continued development of ECLA well after students have completed their introductory linguistics coursework. In this respect, introductory linguistics coursework can 'plant the seed' of subsequent development of our students as critical individuals. Further research is needed to study whether our students' levels of language awareness continues to develop long-term after completing linguistics coursework.
From a practical point of view, the most important implication of this research concerns the ultimate goal of introductory linguistics coursework as part of the wider mission of higher education. If, besides the general objective to contribute to our students' academic and professional development, we do believe that they should develop the ability to critically analyze their own behavior and that of others and to consider the ethical consequences of their actions, it becomes necessary for linguistics instructors to pay attention to what happens in the classroom beyond the presentation of facts of linguistic structure and language use. Since many of our students may not have another chance in their subsequent academic careers to be exposed to an explicit questioning of hegemonic language ideologies, it would not be wise to assume that other courses will take care of this aspect of their education as critically engaged citizens. Note that students in Group 3 were enrolled in linguistics courses that had Introduction to Linguistics as a prerequisite, but those students did not show significant increases of ECLA in comparison to their Group 2 peers, neither at the linguistic nor at the relational awareness levels. Martinez justifies a critical approach to language instruction for heritage language courses, observing that these students 'generally do not come to realize the nature of language variation until they have taken upper division language courses' (2003:4). As seen here, there is more than one level at which this realization might take place, and even if those upper-level linguistics courses do indeed contribute to the enhancement of truly critical language thinking skills as Martinez hopes, it is only a small minority of college students that will complete such coursework. We believe that a critical awareness about language is an unavoidable part of a well-rounded critical awareness about society, and that the introduction to linguistics course is an opportunity to engage our students, even if only temporarily, in a meaningful exploration of the many links between language ideology and power distribution in their local, regional and global communities.
Finally, an important issue (perhaps THE most important issue for critical educators!) concerns how to make our teaching in linguistics more critical. For obvious reasons, we cannot hope to discuss every methodological implication of our findings here. From what has been said above, however, it is clear that the presentation of linguistic facts and the repetition of the standard statements about the equality among language varieties do not suffice on their own to engage our students in questioning the connection between language ideologies and social inequality. Rather, this connection must be incorporated EXPLICITLY in the classroom. In order to do so, several strategies may be followed by instructors, including: (a) increased integration of non-standard varieties among the data sets to analyze throughout the semester and presentation of alternatives to the standard in order to underscore the arbitrariness of ideas on correctness; (b) illustration of commonly-held ideologies about language as portrayed in current debates about the use of language varieties in the media, education, and other environments, (c) open debates about the consequences of commonly held language ideologies on communities under pressure to assimilate linguistically on the basis of statistical data (for instance, educational achievement gaps, linguistic profiling, etc.), etc. Although more research is needed to assess the efficiency of each of these and other similar tools, the pedagogical importance of introducing an explicit discussion about the many ways in which commonly held views of language work to perpetuate social inequality cannot be underestimated.
This research has a series of strengths. First, although the survey is designed to collect verbal responses and verbal self-reports are often weak measures of social and cultural perceptions and behavior, the questions are concrete rather than abstract (e.g. 'what is your reaction to this statement', 'what would you do if...'). As reported in the literature, the more abstract the verbal report, the less predictive of actual behavior (Cohen 1997: 125-6). Similarly, although it may be argued that it is not clear how changes in explicit awareness relate to actual attitudes and behavior, it should be remembered that ECLA corresponds to elements of awareness that are verbalized, and that, as explained above, this research is not aimed at measuring whether and how ECLA relates to implicit cognition. An additional strength of this research lies in the fact that the very variable of ECLA includes a very large range of spheres of social cognition and behavior, from beliefs on language structure and dialect variation, linguistic rights, multilingualism or language policy, to expectations of individual social behavior in contact with speakers of other languages and dialects. Finally, this study adds to the still small body of literature on critical language pedagogy in introductory linguistics courses by taking a quantitative approach (vis-a-vis qualitative studies like Curzan 2002, 2013) and by encompassing essentially critical elements of language awareness (i.e. relational awareness) in addition to awareness about language structure and variation (e.g. Bowie 2013).
This research also has a series of limitations. First, besides the independent variable (introduction to linguistics status), each group of students featured high with-in-group variability: each group included wide variation in terms of previous academic work, familiarity with disciplines where other forms of critical pedagogy may be practiced, or personal attitudes towards social and cultural diversity. In this respect, each group was far from homogeneous, and it is not possible from this research to assess whether these variables had an effect on student responses to the survey. Additionally, the survey only offered three valid responses, which may not capture some of the more nuanced ways in which individuals react to their social environment.
This study does not exhaust the topic of critical awareness and pedagogy in higher-education linguistics coursework. Future studies should also consider a variety of areas, including the following: the relationship between specific elements of linguistic and sociolinguistic knowledge, on the one hand, and specific elements of relational awareness, on the other; the relationship between critical instructions in introductory linguistics coursework and in other more advanced linguistics courses (could the development of critical awareness about language structure and use among our students be furthered by subsequent critical approaches in other linguistics courses?); the relationship between critical instruction in linguistics courses and in other areas outside linguistics (could the development of critical awareness about language structure and use among our students benefit from critical instruction in courses not strictly within the traditional limits of linguistics as a discipline?); and, ultimately, the degree to which critical instruction in linguistics contributes to changes in real-life attitudes and behavior in connection to language and society.
10. CONCLUSION. In his lucid critique of applied linguistics as a discipline, Pennycook poses the question of what the goal of a critical theory and praxis of linguistics should be. If every approach to linguistics is ideological, as is the very idea of social justice and equality, why should linguists advocate a socially-aware approach to the study of language instead of the approaches that have been prevalent in the past? Would social nihilism be a valid answer to the study of language? Pennycook makes a strong argument that, ultimately, a decision must be made about what the goal of it all should be, and that, for linguists, this decision is not a consequence of any given fact of language structure and use, but a matter of social ethics: a critical approach to linguistics is ultimate concerned with how our social positioning and actions affect others. According to Pennycook (2001:137, our emphasis):
No longer can [...] linguistics at this point continue to believe arrogantly in its methods, canon of knowledge, or research. At this point we have to deal with the raw edge of basic ethical decisions. And in this postmodern framework, there are no moral assurances to fall back on: This is not a normative morality, a fixed body of codes to follow; there are no religious or objective morals to speak of, only confrontation with the real ethics of hard decisions. AND THESE ETHICAL DECISIONS DO NOT OCCUR OUTSIDE RELATIONS OF POWER.
In this study, we have advocated for the need to build issues of power and social justice into the way we teach introductory linguistics. We have done so by proposing Explicit Critical Linguistic Awareness as a variable and measuring the scores of the two main components of this variable in students completing introductory linguistics coursework, and comparing those scores to those students who have not completed such coursework, and to those of students who completed the course in the previous semester. Our findings suggest that introductory linguistics coursework may be effective at triggering enhanced levels of awareness at the linguistic/sociolinguistic level, and that relational awareness is harder to influence. These findings do not necessarily imply that introductory linguistics instruction is ineffective for the development of relational awareness. However, for instructors who care about the effect their teaching will have in their students' development of a socially and culturally ethical consciousness about the many links between language and power, our findings do suggest that talking to our students about language structure and use may be insufficient to invite them to reassess their own beliefs on how language works in society. Overall, a quantitative approach to the development of critical thinking modes can contribute a great deal to understanding how our students make sense of knowledge that challenges pre-formulated assumptions. It can shed light on the different effects that our instruction has on various levels of their explicit awareness about the world, which in turn will help us achieve a better understanding of what it is that our students are really learning in our courses.
Please read before completing:
You are being asked to participate in a study on attitudes towards language in society among undergraduate students. Your responses to this questionnaire will be kept anonymous. Please read each question carefully and circle the answer that best matches your personal reaction to the question. The questionnaire will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your participation is greatly appreciated.
Your initials: _ _
Last three digits of your Student ID#: _ _ _
1. Consider the following statement: "Some languages are more complex than others." What is your reaction to this statement?
a. It is true
b. It depends
c. It is false
2. Consider the following statement: "All dialects of any language follow rules of their own." What is your reaction to this statement?
a. It is false
b. It depends on the dialect or the language
c. It is true
3. Consider the following statement: "They did not know nothing about the money." This statement...
a. Does not communicate a full idea
b. Does communicate a full idea, but it might lead to misinterpretation
c. Communicates a full idea
4. The fact that some people my faucet and other people say spigot to refer to the same object is...
a. Problematic, we should all use the same words to refer to the same objects
b. Unproblematic as long as it does not lead to confusion
c. Not problematic at all
5. Today's teenagers speak English in ways that are distinctively different from that of their parents. The fact that language changes generationally is:
a. Problematic, language should not change
b. Unproblematic as long as language does not change too fast
6. The contraction ain't (as in That ain't true) is
a. Not a word
b. Less of a word than isn't
c. A common contraction in English
7. Sign languages (for instance, ASL = American Sign Language) are commonly used as communication systems in deaf communities all over the world. Sign languages...
a. Are not real languages
b. Are real languages but with some expressive limitations vs. spoken languages
c. Are real languages
8. Consider the following statement: "Some people do not have an accent when they speak." What is your reaction to the statement?
a. It is true
b. It depends
c. It is false
9. Consider the following statement: "You should aks for help if you need it." Which option matches your reaction to the verb form aks most closely?
a. It is an incorrect pronunciation
b. It is an equivalent for correct ask that should only be used in some contexts
c. It is an equivalent for ask that conveys the same meaning
10. Consider the following statement: "Speaking English in ways that clearly violate the rules of the standard language indicates an inability to process complex ideas." What is your reaction to the statement?
a. It is true
b. It depends
c. It is false
11. Consider the following statement: "At work, it is always reasonable to require people who speak with an accent that is not standard to make an effort to sound more standard." What is your reaction to the statement?
a. I agree
b. I partially agree
c. I disagree
12. Consider the following statement: "People who do not follow the rules of standard language when they speak often do so out of carelessness." What is your reaction to the statement?
a. I agree
b. I partially agree
c. I disagree
13. Consider the following statement: "People who live in one country should all speak the same language". What is your reaction to this statement?
a. I agree
b. It depends
c. I disagree
14. Consider the following statement: "A large percentage of non-English speaking immigrants to the US consciously refuse to learn English." What is your reaction to this statement?
a. It is probably true
b. It might be true of some immigrants, but probably not many
c. It is probably untrue
15. Consider this statement: "Public agencies should make translations of forms available for people with limited English skills." What is your reaction to this statement?
a. I disagree
b. I agree as long as it does not cost any money
c. I agree
16. In many communities in the United States, school administrators and educators work with children whose primary language is not English. The role of schools as far as these children are concerned should be...
a. Make sure that these children develop English skills as fast as possible
b. Progressively develop these children's English skills, but not rejecting their home language for a while, in order to give them time to adapt
c. Develop skills in English and their home language, so that they grow up bilingual
17. Should public schools in the US expose students to languages other than English (French, German, Mandarin, etc.)?
a. Only if the students declare an interest in learning them
b. Yes, they are an important skill in one's future professional development
c. Yes, they are an important tool to understand the world's cultural diversity
18. What attitude should school administrators show towards teacher candidates who speak English fluently but with a non-native accent (for instance, an American citizen of Indian origin who speaks English fluently with a non-native accent)?
a. They should consider these candidates only if they make an effort to minimize their non-native accent
b. Consider them for the job alongside other candidates but being clear about a native accent being a preference for the job
c. Consider them for the job alongside other candidates
19. Many children in the United States and other parts of the world grow up exposed to more than one language at home. This is...
a. A potential source of problems
b. Positive, as long as they learn to use these languages the way the larger society expects them to
20. Imagine you are an employee at a computer store and a customer comes in who has limited English proficiency, and whose native language you cannot speak. As a result, communication is challenging. What degree of responsibility do you personally have to make sure that some degree of communication is achieved in this situation?
a. No responsibility--it's the customer's responsibility to communicate with me in English
b. Some responsibility, as long as it does not take too much of my time to help that customer
c. Make every effort to communicate with the customer
21. It is estimated that a large percentage of the languages that are currently spoken in the world will disappear by the end of this century as many communities shift to more widely spoken languages. What is your reaction to this development?
a. It is positive
b. It depends
c. It is negative
Catalog course description:
Introduction to Linguistics (3 [credits]): Basic concepts of language description, classification, change, reconstruction, dialectology, and sociolinguistics. Prerequisite for all other linguistics courses.
a. Understand the basic properties of language as a human phenomenon.
b. Understand the basic concepts of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, lexicon, language typology, historical linguistics, dialectology, and language acquisition.
c. Be able to use these concepts to describe specific aspects of language structure and use.
d. Be able to establish comparisons between the structure of English and other languages, and to explain these differences on the basis of the concepts seen in class.
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Department of Languages and Cultures
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Department of Psychology
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
ISRAEL SANZ-SANCHEZ AND LAURA VERREKIA
West Chester University
(*) We would like to acknowledge the audience at the 43rd annual meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest (San Diego, CA, Sept. 18-20, 2014), where a preliminary version of this research was presented in the form of the Presidential Address, for their insightful comments and questions. Many thanks as well to our colleague Eirini Panagiotidou (English, West Chester University) for her collaboration with data collection for this study.
(1) For instance, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities website cites 'a historic commitment to underserved student populations' as one of its primary goals (AASCU 2015). Similarly, the California State University system, one of the largest public university systems in the United States, states in its mission statement that it' [r]equires of its bachelor's degree graduates breadth of understanding, depth of knowledge, and the acquisition of such skills as will allow them to be responsible citizens in a democracy.' (California State University, 'The Mission of the California State University' 1985). This stated commitment to democratic and equality values in higher education is not limited to the United States. For instance, University College London (one of the members of the University of London system, the second-largest provider of public higher education in the United Kingdom) includes the following among its guiding principles: 'focus the impact of [our] education and research on improving the lot of people around the world and respect for human rights, and countering ignorance, poverty, ill-health and political tyranny' and 'promote tolerance, and secure positive and open relations through dialogue between different groups on campus in relation to religion, politics, gender, disability, age, ethnicity and sexuality' (University College London Council, 2011-2021 White Paper, 2011), and the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (one of the largest public universities in Chile) asserts its dedication to 'principles and values to educate socially responsible citizens and to contribute to a more fair and sustainable society' (Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Compromiso Pais, 2015, our translation).
(2) In Bourdieu's original definition, 'a system of durable and transposable dispositions which, integrating all past experiences, functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions, and make it possible to accomplish infinitely differentiated tasks, thanks to the analogical transfer of schemata acquired in prior practice' (1977: 261).
(3) It is not a coincidence that the motto of the Linguistic Society of America is '[a]dvancing the scientific study of language' (http://www.linguisticsociety.org/, 7/26/2015).
(4) A short collection of such statements from introductory linguistics textbooks recently published in the United States will suffice to illustrate this well-established trend: 'No language or variety of a language [...] is superior to any other in a linguistic sense' (Fromkin. Rodman & Hyams 2007, 14); 'From a purely linguistic point of view [...], there is absolutely nothing wrong with grammars that permit [non-standard] structures. They work for their speakers, and they deserve to be studied in the same objective fashion as the varieties [...] spoken by the rich and educated' (O'Grady et al. 2005:7); '[n]o linguistic justification exists for claiming [...] that the structure of one language variety is better than that of other' (Finegan 2012:16).
(5) An example of the application of egalitarian rationale to language pedagogy is the appropriacy discourse, whereby linguistic diversity is accepted, as long as it obeys certain rules of code distribution (i.e. using language in ways that are socially appropriate to context, with varieties that are seen far from the standard relegated to the family, the neighborhood and other low social, capital and political capital contexts). As observed by Lippi-Green. however, 'appropriacy arguments rationalize the process by which languages of peripheralized or stigmatized groups are simultaneously acknowledged and rejected' (1997:107).
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|Author:||Sanz-Sanchez, Israel; Verrekia, Laura|
|Publication:||International journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2014|
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