Language Teaching and Its Contexts

Document Type : Original Article


University of Durham, UK


The title of this new journal provides opportunity to review the many contexts which need to be taken into account in reflecting upon foreign language teaching. These contexts include the educational, the fact that much language teaching takes place within general educational and often compulsory educational settings and institutions. Learners thus encounter foreign languages alongside other languages – their language of the home, the official language of the country, languages of minorities and others – and this needs to be part of the thinking about learning and teaching. Furthermore, since language is the tool for learning throughout life and especially in educational institutions, where the languages of other subjects are languages in themselves which learners have to learn if they are to be successful in education, teachers of all subjects need to be aware of language as the tool of learning. Yet another issue is the relationship of language teaching with citizenship education and the development of ‘intercultural citizenship’. The title of the journal also refers to ‘research’ and here too there is potential for reflection on the modes and paradigms of research which are relevant to investigating language teaching and learning. Distinctions of quantitative and qualitative research are misleading and need to be reviewed. The higher order distinctions are between research which seeks explanation, that which seeks understanding and that which involves advocacy.