Sunday, September 25, 2011

J. Williams & G. Colomb (2010) Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

[This article is for the students of my writing class (14:35-16:05, Fridays from October 7, 2011 - February 10, 2012, at K102. Note: A special class will be held on Tuesday January 10, 2012 (14:35-16:05, K102). There will be no class on December 23 or January 13.]

By way of greeting, allow me to explain the cost of college education.


Before you obtain the textbook, you're advised to read my Japanese essays on writing.

George Gopen & Judith Swan
The Science of Scientific Writing

― 「は」の文法的・機能的転移を中心に ―

Read the following essay as well. It explains why I chose the textbook we'll use in this class.

Teaching grammar in close relation to logic and rhetoric

There are a number of good books on writing available in Japanese.

You may want to refer to the page below occasionally as you struggle to write academically.


You may also remind yourself of the importance of English proficiency on the web.
英語教師のためのコンピュータ入門 (2011年度)


Williams and Colomb are two of the authors of The Craft of Research, the textbook I always recommend to my students. Read their interview.


p. X

Task (T): Read out first paragraph of the section of "PRINCIPLES, NOT PRESCRIPTIONS".

Question (Q): Why is slow writing important?

Q: Are you to write slowly when you draft as well?

Lesson 1
Understanding Style

Note: Because Chapter 1 is an introduction, you don't have much writing tasks. Patience please for those of you who may want to complain about this as the class is a writing class; you'll have plenty of writing tasks in the following tasks.

p. 1

Q: What do the authors want to show by the first example sentence?

p. 2

Q: What are bureaucratese, legalese, academese? What do the authors think about these language use?

T: Read out the two example paragraphs.

Q: What is the self-contradiction that George Orwell made?

p. 3

T: Read out the third example paragraph (from the New York Times).

Q: How does the writer for the New York Times convey the tone of sarcasm?

T: Read out the last two example paragraphs. Compare the two and discuss the difference. (Please remember that you often find it difficult to study not from the lack of intelligence on your side but from the lack of editing skills on the side of the writer).

p. 4

Q: What does Michael Crichton say? Do you agree with him?

Q: Do you share the sense of inhibition of the second paragraph of the section?

Q: What is the meaning of the next quotation?

Our own writing always seems clearer to us than to our readers, because we read into it what we want them to get out of it..And so instead of revising our writing to meet our readers' needs, we send it off the moment it meets ours. (p. 4)

Note: "read into"

(tr, preposition) to discern in or infer from a statement (meanings not intended by the speaker or writer)

p. 5

Q: Why is it important to put your thoughts on the page? (Please remember the importance when you write a thesis in the near future.)

Q: How are writing (for the first time) and rewriting different?

p. 6

T: Elaborate the next quotation.

So use what you find here not as rules to impose on every sentence as you draft it, but as principles to help you identify sentences that might give our readers a problem, and then to revise them.


A principle internally motivates you to do the things that seem good and right. People develop principles by living with people with principles and seeing the real benefits of such a life.

A rule externally compels you, through force, threat or punishment, to do the things someone else has deemed good or right. People follow or break rules.

Because this class is about principles not about rules, I never mean to be too prescriptive. You are ALWAYS encouraged to ask questions or raise objections.

Q: Would you agree with the authors when they say "no one learns to write well by rule, especially those who cannot see or feel or think." (p.6)?

p. 7

Q: What is the meaning of the next quotation? Elaborate the idea.

Essentially style resembles good manners. It comes of endeavouring to understand others, of thinking for them rather yourself -- or thinking, that is, with the heart as well as the head.
-- Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Note: "On Style" by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch is available:

Lesson 2

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 8

Q: What are the differences between 1a and 1b? State specifically.

p. 9

T: Explain "the most general principle for clear sentences" by using 2a.

p. 10

Q: What is the common characteristic of verbs used in 2a?

p. 11

T: Read out 3a and 3b and feel the difference.

The video below is for fun (There's a 10 second advertisement first.)

Q: After you felt something, compare 3a and 3b to discuss the differences.

T: Compare the length of subjects in 3a and 3b and discuss its implications.

T: Compare 4a and 4b and state the difference.

p. 13

Q: What is nominalization?

p. 14

T: Explain the procedure of Diagnose-Analyze-Rewrite with your own words.

p. 15

Q: What is the "empty verb"?

pp. 15-16

T: Explain the five common patterns with your own words.

p. 16

Q: What is the common feature among the first three common patterns?

pp. 17-18

T: Explain the four happy consequences with your own words.

pp. 18-19

T: Explain the four cases of useful nominalizations with your own words.

p. 19

Q: Why is nominalization of the verb not recommended in "She impressed me when she admitted her guilt."

T: Discuss the implications of Hamlet's remark: "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." (Hamlet, 3.2)

Lesson 3

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 20

Q: Why do most readers find 1a easier to read than to read 1b?

p. 21

Q: What is the difference between subject and character?
You may want to refer to this account:

Q: Why is 1c difficult to read?

Q: Why is the sentence "There was fear that there would be a recommendation for a budget reduction" not a good sentence?

p. 22

T: Explain the procedures 1 to 3 in your own words.

p. 23

T: Compare the two sentences about theology carefully and specify the changes made in the second sentence.

Q: Think of possible interpretations of the ambiguous sentence: "A decision was made in favor of doing a study of disagreements."

p. 24

T: What are the problems of the choice of pronouns in the second example?

T: Compare the first and the third examples. Which is easier for you to read, and why?

p. 25

Q: Why is the nominalization "studies" in the first example considered OK?
Q: What are, then, the problems of the nominalizations in the second example?

T: Compare the second and the third examples carefully and discuss the differences (and the effects they make).

p. 26

T: Summarize the argument of the first paragraph.

Q: What are "virtual characters" in the box?

Q: What does the box say about the cases where "the hidden characters are 'people in general'"?

Q: Do you often worry about the choice of subject when you write in Japanese?

pp. 26 - 27

T: Explain the difference between Active and Passive in your own words.

Q: What is the authors' unique definition of a passive sentence? [Note: Since their definition is rather idiosyncratic, you don't have to worry too much about this. But you have to understand what they mean.]

p. 28

T: Elaborate Point 1 in your own words.

pp. 28-29

T: Carefully compare the first example on p. 28 and the second one on p. 29 and explain Point 2 in your own words.

p. 29

T: Compare the three examples and explain Point 3 in your own words.

Regarding Points 2 and 3, read the following short Japanese article:

p. 30

Q: What do the two examples at the bottom of the page demonstrate?

p. 31

Q: With what type of verb do academic authors use the first person? Why is that?

Q: What is "metadiscourse"?

Cf. What is "discourse," in the first place?

Or "meta"?

Q: What is the point of using metadiscourse?

Q: With what type of verb do academic authors NOT use the first person? Why is that?

p. 32

Q: What are the implied subject and the explicit subject of the sentence: "To determine the effect, preparations of the devices were added."

Q: The following sentences are examples of dangling modifiers. Explain what they are.

Turning the corner, a handsome school building appeared.

Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.

Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.

To improve his results, the experiment was done again.

IMPORTANT: The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University is one of the best online resources available for writing in English. Bookmark the site on your browsers.

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University

p. 33

Q: Summarize the description of the box.

Q: What are problems of a long compound noun phrase such as "childhood thought disorder misdiagnosis"?

Q: What is the authors' opinion of the claim by some grammarians that we should never modify one noun with another?

p. 34

Q: Why is "thought disorders" lumped together in the first example.

Q: What do you think of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's remark.

Whatever if translatable in other and simpler words of the same language, without loss of sense or dignity, is bad.

Lesson 4
Cohesion and Coherence

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

pp. 35-36

T: The authors say that while 1a seems "choppy" 1b "hang together better." Compare 1a and 1b carefully and pick up expressions that support their contention.

Q: What is cohesion according to the author?

Q: What is coherence according to the author?

Cf. Cohesion is usually defined in linguistics as follows:

Cohesion is the grammatical and lexical relationship within a text or sentence. Cohesion can be defined as the links that hold a text together and give it meaning. It is related to the broader concept of coherence

There are two main types of cohesion: grammatical, referring to the structural content, and lexical, referring to the language content of the piece. A cohesive text is created in many different ways. In Cohesion in English, M.A.K. Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan identify five general categories of cohesive devices that create coherence in texts: reference, ellipsis, substitution, lexical cohesion, and conjunction.

Despite the difference between the definition by the author and the above one, it remains the same that coherence is a broader notion than cohesion.

Later, the authors define cohesion as "the sense of flow" (p. 36) and coherence as "the sense of the whole" (p. 40). These may be better definitions (or at least, simpler ones).

p. 37

T: Compare 1a and 1b in terms of the "sense of flow."

p. 38

T: Explain what the box says.

T: Explain Point 1.

p. 39

Q: Although the insertion of "Astronomers have reported" seems to contradict Point 1, the authors say that it is perfectly OK. Why?

T: Explain Point 2. (This is a very important point in writing, which is very often neglected by EFL learners!)

T: Explain what the paragraph above the box say. (Remember the saying, "The problem of a writer is that she knows about the subject too much.")

Q: What does the box say?

p. 40

T: Read the first paragraph and the following two indented parts and explain how coherence is different from cohesion.

Q: What does the example (that begins with "Sayner, Wisconsin...") demonstrate? (As a teacher, I often read a passage like this one. Such a passage is perfectly OK if it is spoken at a party, but does not make an academic paper.)

p. 41

Q: What is wrong with the first definition of subject?

Q: What is wrong with the second definition? Explain by using the four examples that follow.

p. 42

Q: Read the first example and why it feels "choppy."

T: Explain the procedures of Diagnose-Analyze-Rewrite.

p. 43

Q: What is throat-clearing?

Q: What is the problem of throat-clearing?

Lesson 5

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 45

T: What do you think is the most important part of the most important sentence of the first paragraph?

pp. 45-46

T: Describe how you feel as you read 1a and 1b respectively.

Q: Which do you like better, 2a or 2b? Why?

Note: Section of "Complex Meaning" (pp. 46-48) is to be omitted in the class because there are too many technical terms for EFL students. Personally, though, I recommend that you read through without using a dictionary.

p. 48

Q: What is the end of a sentence for? Pick up two items from the box.

T: Summarize the argument of the box.

p. 49

Q: What is the psychological subject? How is it from the grammatical subject?

Q: What is the stress here?

T: Compare the two sentences about global warming and describe the difference of the effects that they produce.

p. 50

T: Compare 1a and 1b and state which you think is the passage that blames the American president.

T: Elaborate this principle: Just as we look to the first few words for point of view, we look to the last few words for special emphasis.

p. 51

T: Explain the three tactical revisions.

T: Explain the six syntactic devices to emphasize the right words.

p. 52

Q: Isn't the expression "There are" rather empty? What function does it serve?

Q: Do you feel any difference between the two examples of Point 3 (What shift)?

p. 53

Q: Point 6 is really a "fine" point. Do you get the point?

p. 54

Q: Why do we think that 1b focuses more on two topics than 1a (on the previous page)?

T: Elaborate this principle: Put key words in the stress position of the first sentence of a passage to emphasize the ideas that organize the rest of it.

p. 55

T: Compare 1c and 1b and specify the differences.

p. 56

Q: Again, what is the difference between characters and themes?

T: Explain the meaning of the old German proverb "Begenning and end shake hands with one another" by relating it to the box.

Lesson 6

Download the writing tasks from here.
(password is necessary)

p. 57

Q: Why does the first example sound redundant? Explain specifically.

Q: The second example is concise. But are there not any points in the use of the expressions taken away from the first example?

pp. 58-63

T: Explain the six principles.

Q: Do you know anyone that uses those listed verbs that are used "as uncousciously as we clear throats"?

Q: What are the doubled words?

p. 60

T: The last four lines of this page expresses what a principle (as opposed to a rule) is about. Explain.

p. 61


Please do not overgeneralize that those expressions on this page and others are always redundant and bad. There are some cases when a writer deliberately uses these expressions to make a special effect.

If you're sure that something is written by an experienced writer, you should assume that any expressions she used must have some purpose. This assumption is to be abondoned, though, when you are reading what is written by an unskilled.

Relevance Theory formalizes the principle of communication:

The core of the theory is the “communicative principle of relevance”, which states that by the act of making an utterance the speaker is conveying that what they have said is worth listening to, i.e. it will provide "cognitive effects" worthy of the processing effort required to find the meaning. In this way, every ostensive act of communication (that is the lexical "clues" that are explicitly conveyed when we speak/write) will look something like this:

1. The speaker purposefully gives a clue to the hearer, ("ostensifies"), as to what she wishes to communicate - that is a clue to her intention.

2. The hearer infers the intention from the clue and the context-mediated information. The hearer must interpret the clue, taking into account the context, and surmise what the speaker intended to communicate.

Q: Why is the affirmative more direct than the negative?

p. 62

T: Compare the next two sentences: "Do not translate a negative into an affirmative if you want to emphasize the negative" and "Keep a negative sentence if you want to emphasize the negative." Which is more emphatic?

p. 63

T: Learn the skill of deleting from the example. It'll be useful when you tweet.

Q: Again, what is metadiscourse?

p. 64

Q: Why do you think are the authors negative about metadiscourse that attributes your ideas to a source?

p. 65

Q: Do the authors suggest that we eliminate metadiscourse that announces your topic entirely?

Q: What is the hedge?

p. 66

Q: What does the first example ("There seems to be some ...) demonstrate?

Q: What does the second example ("This evidence proves ...) demonstrate?

Q: What is the function of a verb like suggest or indicate in an academic writing?

Q: The last example was written by Watson and Crick. What do you think about their expression? (You may compare their paragraph with the revised one on the next page.)

p. 67

Q: What is the intensifier?

Q: What is "the most common intensifier" according to the authors?

Q: What are the effects of the intensifiers used in the last example?

p. 68

Q: What is the opinion of the authors about the last example (with many uses of intensifiers) on the last page? Would you agree? (Please remamber that this book is not about rules but about principles.)

T: Summarize what the box says.

Q: What is the message of John Wesley?

I write for those who judge of books, not by the quantity, but by the quality of them: who ask not how long, but how good they are. I spare both my reader's time and my own, by couching my sense in as few words as I can.

Lesson 7

pp. 69-70

Q: How do you compare the original on p. 69 and the two revisions on p. 70?

p.  70

Q: Why does the second revision feel 'choppy'?

T:  Explain the humor of the last paragraph on p. 70.

p. 71

Q:  What are the three sources of 'a sense of shapeless length'?

T:  Elaborate the two rules of thumb: (1) Get to the subject of the main clause quickly; (2) Get to the verb and object quickly.

Q:  Of the four part from [ 1 ] to [ 4 ], which can be relatively long, and which cannot be long?

[ 1 ]  Subject  [ 2 ] Verb [ 3 ] Object [ 4 ] .

p. 73

Q:  How do you compare the last three example texts on p. 73?

p. 74

Q: Ask yourself: Do you have the two problems on p. 74?  I, as a writer in a language which is not perfectly of one's own, do, particularly when trying to condense a lot of thought into one sentence, which is meant to impress readers (though it doesn't), have, as you've already abundantly noticed, them.  :)

p. 75

T: Explain the exception at the top of p. 75.  (You'll use this exception rather often).

p. 76

T: Explain what the authors mean when they say "we can best manage complexity when we begin with something short and direct that frames the more complex information that follows."

p. 78

Four ways of reshaping sprawl are explained from this page: Cut; Turn subordinate clauses into independent sentences; Change clauses to modifyng phrases; and Coordinate.

Q: Which part of the sentence is to be cut?

You can change clauses to three types of modifying phrases: Resumptive modifiers; Summative modifiers; and Free modifiers.

p. 79

Q: What is the resumptive modifier?  (Note that a resumptive modifier can begin with a noun, adjective, verb or "one that.")

p. 80

Q: What is the summative modifier?  How is it different from the resumptive modifier?

Free modifier is generally known as 「分詞構文」 by Japanese learners of English.

p. 81

T: Coordination is often referred to as "parallelism."  In my opinion, this is one of the most useful principles for clear writing.  Explain by pointing to examples.

p. 83

Q: What is the principle you should keep when you find what you want to coordinate (or parallel) differ in length?

p. 84

Q: What are the four unifying principles: Subject-verb; Old-new; Point-explanation; and Short-long?  (You should learn to use these principles together when you can.)

Long sentences often contain faulty grammatical coordination, faulty rhetorical coordination, unclear connections, ambiguous modifiers, or dangling modifiers.

Q: What is the faulty grammatical coordination?

p. 85

Q: Is the nonparallel coordination to be avoided at any time?

p. 86

Q: What is the faulty rhetorical coordination?

p. 87

Q: What strategy can you use when you find it difficult to shorten the first half of the coordination?

T: Explain the ambiguity of "overtaxing oneself in physical activity too frequiently results in injury."

p. 89

T: Explain the meaning of a saying by John Stuart Mill: The structure of every sentence is a lesson in logic.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

B. Norton & C. McKinney (2011) An Identity Approach to Second Language Acquisiton

[This is one of the articles compiled for a class for my graduate students in the autumn/winter semester in 2011/2012.]

Bonny Norton & Carolyn McKinney (2011) An Identity Approach to Second Language Acquisition in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback,Kindle Edition ] (pp. 73-94)

Note: This article has much to share with Chapter 6 of Pennycook (2001) Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction. Routledge. [Paperback, Kindle Edition]

You may want to read my note for Chapter 6

It may be better, though, to read the following page to understand keywords including Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, Poststructrualism, and Foucault.

See the index page as well.

p. 73

Q: Summarize the first paragraph.

Q: What do the authors mean when they say "In this view, every time learners speak, they are negotiating and renegotiating a sense of self in relation to the larger social world, and reorganizing that relationship in multiple dimensions of their lives (p. 73)"?

p. 74

Q: Can you paraphrase Norton's three characteristics of identity: the multiple, non-unitary nature of identity; identity as a site of struggle; and identity as changing over time. Compare these characteristics with those that you associate with the concept of identity.

Q: What is psychometircs?

Q: What are instrumental motivation and integrative motivation (Gardner and Lambert)?

Q: What do you think of the following observations by Ushioda (Ushioda 2011)?

Simplifying somewhat, it is probably true to say that the study of language motivation over the past 40 years or so has been shaped by two successive though overlapping research traditions ? North American social psychology, and cognitive motivational psychology. Both traditions share a common root in psychometric approaches to the measurement of individual traits or differences. This means that they deploy measurement techniques and statistical procedures that make certain assumptions about the normal distribution of particular traits in a given population.

Ushioda (2011) "A Person-in-Context Relational View of Emergent Motivation, Self and Identity" in Dornyei, Zoltan; Ushioda, Ema (2011). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (Kindle Locations 4717-4721). Channel View Publications. Kindle Edition.

Let us consider, first of all, the role of context in models of motivation developed in the Gardnerian social-psychological tradition. In this connection, it is worth noting that, although we call it ‘social’ psychology, the focus in social psychology is on the individual (as social being), rather than on the social or cultural collective (as in sociology). As Dornyei (1999) points out, Gardner and Lambert’s (1972) original social-psychological model of L2 learning is essentially a theory of individual, rather than socially or culturally motivation; and social and cultural factors are reflected only through the individual’s attitudes, measured through self-report instruments. Although the influence of the socio-cultural environment is implicit in this and later versions of the model, in the form of ‘cultural beliefs’ in the social milieu which are assumed to shape an individual’s attitudes (Gardner, 1985: 146-147), the model sustains the basic Cartesian dualism between the mental and material worlds, between the inner life of the individual and the surrounding culture and society.

Ushioda (2011) "A Person-in-Context Relational View of Emergent Motivation, Self and Identity" in Dornyei, Zoltan; Ushioda, Ema (2011). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (Second Language Acquisition) (Kindle Locations 4741-4749). Channel View Publications. Kindle Edition.

p. 75

Q: What is investment (Norton Peirce, 1995)?

Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning
Author: Peirce, Bonny Norton
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 1, Spring 1995 , pp. 9-31(23)
Publisher: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)

The author argues that second language acquisition (SLA) theorists have struggled to conceptualize the relationship between the language learner and the social world because they have not developed a comprehensive theory of social identity which integrates the language learner and the language learning context. She also maintains that SLA theorists have not adequately addressed how relations of power affect interaction between language learners and target language speakers. Using data collected in Canada from January to December 1991 from diaries, questionnaires, individual and group interviews, and home visits, the author illustrates how and under what conditions the immigrant women in her study created, responded to, and sometimes resisted opportunities to speak English. Drawing on her data analysis as well as her reading in social theory, the author argues that current conceptions of the individual in SLA theory need to be reconceptualized, and she draws on the poststructuralist conception of social identity as multiple, a site of struggle, and subject to change to explain the findings from her study. Further, she argues for a conception of investment rather than motivation to capture the complex relationship of language learners to the target language and their sometimes ambivalent desire to speak it. The notion of investment conceives of the language learner, not as ahistorical and unidimensional, but as having a complex social history and multiple desires. The article includes a discussion of the implications of the study for classroom teaching and current theories of communicative competence.
(Download the paper (password will be requested))

Q: What is cultural capital? How is it different from economic, social and symbolic capitals?

Q: What did "silence" mean in Duff (2002)?

Q: How is investment different from instrumental motivation?

p. 76

Q: What could happen if a learner is "a highly motivated language learner, but may nevertheless have little investment in the language practice" (p. 76)? Do you think you've observed such cases?

Q: What are the imagined communities?

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New Edition)

Q: The authors argue: "These imagined communities are no less real than the ones in which learners have daily engagement and might even have a stronger impact on their identities and investments." (p. 76). Would you agree? Recall different types of persons you know and see if this observation applies to each one of them.

p. 77

Q: How the poststructuralist view of language different from structuralist view of language?

You can find some information on poststructulalism here
and on structuralism here

Q: Summarize the last paragraph on Bakhtin.

p. 78

Q: What did Bourdieu mean when he said "speech always owes a major part of its value to the value of the person who utters it" (1977, p. 652)? Would modern linguists agree with him?

Q: What are the implications of Bakhtin and Bourdiew on SLA theories?

p. 79

Q: What is the Foucauldian notion of subjectivity?

Foucault analyzes the discursive and practical conditions for the existence of truth and discursive meaning. To show the principles of production of truth and discursive meaning in various discursive formations, he details how truth claims emerge during various epochs on the basis of what was actually said and written during these periods. He particularly describes the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, and the 20th century. He strives to avoid all interpretation and to depart from the goals of hermeneutics. This does not mean that Foucault denounces truth and discursive meaning, but just that truth and discursive meaning depend on the historical discursive and practical means of truth and meaning production. For instance, although they were radically different during Enlightenment as opposed to Modernity, there were indeed discursive meaning, truth and correct treatment of madness during both epochs (Madness and Civilization). This posture allows Foucault to denounce a priori concepts of the nature of the human subject and focus on the role of discursive practices in constituting subjectivity.

Below are my blog articles on Foucault and other related topics.


Q: What is to "de-essentialize and deconstruct identity categories such as race and gender"?

Q: What are Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) and situated learning?

p. 81

Q: Elaborate the last paragraph.

p. 82

Q: What is the first assumption that the identity approach shares with such studies as qualitative approach, critical ethnography, feminist psotstructuralist theory, sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology? Explain.

Q: What is the second assumption?

Q: What is the third assumption?

Q: What does Pennycook (2007, p. 39) mean?

p. 83

Q: Would you agree with Pavlenko (2001b, p. 167)?

p. 87

Q: What is the difference between the identity approach different and the sociocognitive approach?

Q: What is the difference between the identity approach and the sociocultural theory (SCT) approach?

Q: What is the difference between the identity approach and the conversational analysis (CA)? (What is an emic understanding?)

Q: Q: What is the difference between the identity approach and the language socialization approach?

p. 88

Q: Do you think our identities are affected by the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT)?

p. 89

Q: Elaborate the last paragraph.

Q: Finally, what is your sense of identity? How would you describe your identity (or identities)?

You may want to read other works by Bonny Norton.

Identity and Language Learning

Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning

Researcher Identity, Narrative Inquiry, and Language Teaching Research
Authors: Norton, Bonny; Early, Margaret
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Volume 45, Number 3, September 2011 , pp. 415-439(25)
Publisher: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)

Whereas there has been much research on language and identity with respect to learners, teachers, and teacher educators, there has been little focus on the identity of the researcher, an important stakeholder in language education. Our research therefore addresses the following question: To what extent can narrative inquiry illuminate the ways in which researcher identity is negotiated in language teaching research? To address this question, we draw on a digital literacy study in multilingual Uganda to narrate how we engaged in our own storytelling, and the process by which we invited teachers to share their experiences of teaching through the medium of English as an additional language in a poorly resourced rural school. Central themes were our attempts to reduce power differentials between researchers and teachers, and our desire to increase teacher investment (Norton, 2000) in our collaborative research project. Drawing on numerous small stories (Bamberg, 2004; Georgakopoulou, 2006), we argue that several researcher identities were realized, including international guest, collaborative team member, teacher, and teacher educator. Our article supports the case that small stories enrich traditional narrative inquiry, both theoretically and methodologically, and make visible the complex ways in which researcher identity impacts research, not only in language teaching, but in education more broadly.
(Download (password will be required))


If you're interested, please read my essays as well.

"Where is Self, and what is it?" No, it's rather "How is Self?": Luhmann's theory of autopoiesis.

A summary of Damasio’s “Self Comes to Mind”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hayao Miyazaki's video for "On Your Mark" by Chage and Aska

A life is born. Whether biological or imaginary. And you cherish the life. That's, I guess, what this video is about.

On Your Mark 投稿者 _Nessim_

The video depicts three versions of reality of an angel girl seen by protagonists, two policemen in the anti-terrorist squad. The squad breaks into the tower occupied by cultists. They exchange fires and the squad controls the situation. As the two men searches in the area together with other members of the squad, one of them checks a dead body of a young women and sees her face.

After that, the two find a winged girl, who only looks like an angel, lying on the floor chained and unconscious. The scene suddenly changes and the two are with the angel girl, driving an open car in the open field. As they drive, they encourage the girl to fly, who opens her wings and begins to fly in the sky where she probably belongs -- or so goes the first version of reality.

The scene of the video suddenly goes back to the scene where the angel girl is found. The two hold her carefully and offer something to drink. As she sips, they feel deep delight. But she is soon taken away, shielded completely, by the authorities wearing radiation suits.

The next scene depicts the two drinking in a bar. There is a sudden flashback of the image of the angel girl, and they decide to risk their career to rescue her. After preparation, they intrude into the laboratory where the angel girl is captured and take her away to escape in an armored vehicle. They are soon chased by police hovercrafts. The highway road is destroyed, and the vehicle falls. As they fall, one of the man tries to release his hands from the hands of the angel girl to let her fly alone and survive, but she refuses and the three fall down further, probably to the ground, completely dead -- or so goes the second version of reality.

The scene goes back to the vehicle on the highway. The vehicle falls as the highway is destroyed. But this time, the vehicle hovers with jet engines and they somehow escape. They take an open car, go through a long tunnel, ignoring warning signs that say "Survival Not Guaranteed" or "Extreme Danger, and finally find themselves in the open field, the forbidden area presumably because of radiation emitted before this episode. They enjoy driving for a while and the angel girl is ready to fly. One of the men winks at her and the other kisses the hand of the girl. She hovers, begins to fly, and goes up into the blue sky, higher and higher -- or so goes the third version of reality.

The video stops there, and the audience are not exactly sure what really happened. Probably the third version must be the reality, for it is the last one we saw. But it's not a good reason. The second version, the falling to the ground, may be the reality, and the third version could be a fantasy that one of the two men (or both two) had as they fall, wishing the reality as he wanted.

But this second version could be a daydream that one of the two had as they drank in the bar. The two may have just let her go to an institution.

Or did they really meet the angel girl? The first version of reality, finding the angel girl and releasing her immediately in the blue sky, could be an entire delusion. The fact could only be that one of them just saw the face of a dead woman lying on the floor. He may just have had the delusion to deny the brutal fact of mass slaughter that he just witnessed. There may not have been any angle girl. She may not have been there at all.

Who knows? The audience are clueless.

But who cares? (Or do you?)

We see the reality as we see it. That's how we live. The angel girl may have been a real life, or just an illusion. But does it matter? The two protagonists saw the girl, touched her, helped her and saw her smile -- or they imagined that way. That's what they needed. They needed a life, another life, biological or otherwise, to care for. If only you have one life besides your own that you care about so much, your life is blessed. If we meet such a life, if only for a short time, you may call your life a happy one.

Or so goes my interpretation -- my reality -- of the video Hayao Miyazaki provides.

Long live the angel.

Wikipedia: Studio Ghibli Presents the Great Collection - 18 Movies From Hayao Miyazaki ジブリがいっぱいSPECIALショートショート

Thursday, September 15, 2011

D. Larsen-Freeman (2011) A Complexity Approach to Second Language Development / Acquisition

[This is one of the articles compiled for a class for my graduate students in the autumn/winter semester in 2011/2012.]

D. Larsen-Freeman (2011) A Complexity Approach to Second Language Development / Acquisition in Dwight Atkinson (ed) Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (Routledge) [Paperback,Kindle Edition ] (pp. 48-72)

Note: As my theoretical background in complexity theory is Niklas Luhmann's systems theory, I'll occasionally use his framework to examine this article by Larsen-Freeman. I also have to add that my description below is selective, for I cannot cover varieties of papers she quoted.

pp. 48-49

Q: Larsen-Freeman is extremely critical about experimental designs.

Experimental designs attempted to control for all factors except the one hypothesized as causal. Not only was such research of suspect ecological validity, it also rested on the questionable assumption that a single factor caused some effect. To me this denied the commonsense understanding that SLA processes were complex, situated, and likely multivariate. Then, too, aggregating findings across studies seemed impossible, given differences in how and where data were collected. (pp. 48-49)

Do you think this criticism is a valid one against epidemiology?

Q: Larsen-Freeman talks about "different levels of ecological scale":

In sum, I conclude that language, its use, and its acquisition are mutually constitutive, simply occurring at different levels of ecological scale -- individual through speech community -- and timescale. (p. 49)

Do you think we should distinguish different levels when we examine language acquisition and language use, as Luhmann, for example, distinguishes a psychic system (an individual mind) and a social system (an interaction, organization or society that is constituted by communication)?

Here's a definition of system in a Luhmannean way.

system (System). Luhmann is particularly interested in autopoietic and operationally-closed systems (see entry above). Such systems can be biological (cells, the immune system), psychic (the mind), or social (the economy, politics). As a social theorist, Luhmann focuses largely on social systems. Social systems consist of communication, not of people (see entry for “society” above). Within the social system as a whole there are numerous “subsystems” such as the mass media, the economy, and politics. These subsystems are function systems because they all have their specific function within society. The concept of the system is relative to the concept of an environment (see entry above). A system

Moeller, Hans-Georg (2011-04-15). Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems (Ideas Explained) (p. 226). Open Court. Kindle Edition.

Take a look at how Luhmann conceives different systems.

p. 50

Q: How is organized complexity different from disorganized complexity?

"what is different from problems of disorganized complexity, to which statistical methods hold the key, is that problems of organized complexity deal simultaneously with sizeable numbers of factors interrelated into an organic whole.  "

Cybernetics and systems theory are often synonymous.

The term cybernetics derives from a Greek word which meant steersman, and which is the origin of English words such as "govern". Cybernetics is the study of feedback and derived concepts such as communication and control in living organisms, machines and organisations. Its focus is how anything (digital, mechanical or biological) processes information, reacts to information, and changes or can be changed to better accomplish the first two tasks.
The terms "systems theory" and "cybernetics" have been widely used as synonyms. Some authors use the term cybernetic systems to denote a proper subset of the class of general systems, namely those systems that include feedback loops.

Q: How are a complex system and a complex adaptive system different? Read the following definitions.

A complex system is a system composed of interconnected parts that as a whole exhibit one or more properties (behavior among the possible properties) not obvious from the properties of the individual parts.

A system’s complexity may be of one of two forms: disorganized complexity and organized complexity. In essence, disorganized complexity is a matter of a very large number of parts, and organized complexity is a matter of the subject system (quite possibly with only a limited number of parts) exhibiting emergent properties.

Examples of complex systems for which complexity models have been developed include ant colonies, human economies and social structures, climate, nervous systems, cells and living things, including human beings, as well as modern energy or telecommunication infrastructures. Indeed, many systems of interest to humans are complex systems.

Complex systems are studied by many areas of natural science, mathematics, and social science. Fields that specialize in the interdisciplinary study of complex systems include systems theory, complexity theory, systems ecology, and cybernetics.

John H. Holland "Cas [complex adaptive systems] are systems that have a large numbers of components, often called agents, that interact and adapt or learn."

Holland, John H.; (2006). "Studying Complex Adaptive Systems." Journal of Systems Science and Complexity 19 (1): 1-8.

p. 51

Self-organization and autopoiesis are often treated as synonyms.

Self-organization is the process where a structure or pattern appears in a system without a central authority or external element imposing it through planning. This globally coherent pattern appears from the local interaction of the elements that make up the system, thus the organization is achieved in a way that is parallel (all the elements act at the same time) and distributed (no element is a central coordinator).

Autopoiesis was originally presented as a system description that was said to define and explain the nature of living systems. A canonical example of an autopoietic system is the biological cell. The eukaryotic cell, for example, is made of various biochemical components such as nucleic acids and proteins, and is organized into bounded structures such as the cell nucleus, various organelles, a cell membrane and cytoskeleton. These structures, based on an external flow of molecules and energy, produce the components which, in turn, continue to maintain the organized bounded structure that gives rise to these components.

An autopoietic system is to be contrasted with an allopoietic system, such as a car factory, which uses raw materials (components) to generate a car (an organized structure) which is something other than itself (the factory).

Though others have often used the term as a synonym for self-organization, Maturana himself stated he would "never use the notion of self-organization, because it cannot be the case... it is impossible. That is, if the organization of a thing changes, the thing changes."[3] Moreover, an autopoietic system is autonomous and operationally closed, in the sense that there are sufficient processes within it to maintain the whole. Autopoietic systems are "structurally coupled" with their medium, embedded in a dynamic of changes that can be recalled as sensory-motor coupling. This continuous dynamic is considered as a rudimentary form of knowledge or cognition and can be observed throughout life-forms.

An application of the concept to sociology can be found in Niklas Luhmann's Systems Theory, which was subsequently adapted by Bob Jessop in his studies of the capitalist state system. Marjatta Maula adapted the concept of autopoiesis in a business context.

[3]Maturana, H. (1987). Everything is said by an observer. In Gaia, a Way of Knowing, edited by W. Thompson, Lindisfarne Press, Great Barrington, MA, pp. 65-82, p. 71.

Q: Luhmann says that "autopoietic systems are operationally closed."  What is operational closure ?

operation (Operation). Operations are what systems consist of; operating is what systems do. Different types of systems consist of different types of operations. Psychic systems, for instance, think and feel, whereas living systems consist of biological operations, and social systems communicate. Your mind consists of the thoughts you think and the emotions you feel. Legal communication consists of what is said in the courtroom and what is written in legal documents. Autopoietic systems are operationally closed. No other system can interfere in their operations. They can only continue their operations by themselves. No one, for instance, can think or feel for you; there is no immediate external interference possible. The same is true, according to Luhmann, for social systems. You can only continue economic communication by further economic communication. You can only buy something by spending money, not by watching a commercial on TV or by making a political speech. Operational closure goes along with cognitive openness. By being operationally closed and differentiated from its environment, a system can have cognition of its environment. Once a system has reached operational closure, it can observe the environment in its own terms. Once the legal system has closed itself operationally, it can observe everything as being either legal or illegal.

Moeller, Hans-Georg (2011-04-15). Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems (Ideas Explained) (p. 223). Open Court. Kindle Edition.

Here's a brief explanation of isolated systems, closed systems and open systems.
Isolated systems are completely isolated from their environment. They do not exchange heat, work or matter with their environment. The only truly isolated system there could be is the universe, but even that is up for debate if the Big Bang is considered. Closed systems are able to exchange energy (heat and work) but not matter with their environment. A greenhouse is an example of a closed system exchanging heat but not work with its environment. Whether a system exchanges heat, work or both is usually thought of as a property of its boundary. Open systems may exchange any form of energy as well as matter with their environment. A boundary allowing matter exchange is called permeable. The ocean would be an example of an open system. 

Q: Prigogine is known for the concept of a dissipative system. How is the system related to self-organization?

A dissipative system is a thermodynamically open system which is operating out of, and often far from, thermodynamic equilibrium in an environment with which it exchanges energy and matter.

A dissipative structure is a dissipative system that has a dynamical regime that is in some sense in a reproducible steady state. This reproducible steady state may be reached by natural evolution of the system, by artifice, or by a combination of these two.

p. 52

Q: What is a chaotic system? What does the chaos theory say about determinism?

Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, an effect which is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

Chaotic behavior can be observed in many natural systems, such as the weather. Explanation of such behavior may be sought through analysis of a chaotic mathematical model, or through analytical techniques such as recurrence plots and Poincare maps. 

Q: What is a nonlinear system? How is this related to a chaotic system?

In mathematics, a nonlinear system is a system which is not linear, that is, a system which does not satisfy the superposition principle, or whose output is not directly proportional to its input. Less technically, a nonlinear system is any problem where the variable(s) to be solved for cannot be written as a linear combination of independent components.

Q: What is emergence?

In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

Q: How is emergence related to spontaneous order or self-organization?

Spontaneous order, also known as "self-organization", is the spontaneous emergence of order out of seeming chaos. It is a process found in physical, biological, and social networks, as well as economics, though the term "self-organization" is more often used for physical and biological processes, while "spontaneous order" is typically used to describe the emergence of various kinds of social orders from a combination of self-interested individuals who are not intentionally trying to create order through planning. The evolution of life on Earth, language, the Internet and a free market economy have all been proposed as examples of systems which evolved through spontaneous order. Naturalists often point to the inherent "watch-like" precision of uncultivated ecosystems and to the universe itself as ultimate examples of this phenomenon.

Spontaneous orders are to be distinguished from organizations. Spontaneous orders are distinguished by being scale-free networks, while organizations are hierarchical networks. Further, organizations can be and often are a part of spontaneous social orders, but the reverse is not true. Further, organizations have someone who created the organization and controls it, more or less, while spontaneous orders are created, controlled, and controllable by none.

Spontaneous order is also used as a synonym for any emergent behavior of which self-interested spontaneous order is just an instance. 

Q: Larsen-Freeman defines complex systems as follows:

In sum, complexity theory seeks to explain complex, dynamic, open, adaptive, self-organizing, nonlinear systems. [Emphasis added by me] (p. 52)

She further says:

Language, its use, its evolution, its development, its learning, and its teaching are arguably complex systems. Thus, complexity theory offers a way to unite all these phenomena. [Emphasis added by me] (p. 52)

Do you think these phenomena are of open systems?

Do you think these phenomena can, or should, be united in explanation? [In my opinion, language and language use are entirely different because the former can be, according to Chomskyan understanding, quite individual, whereas the latter involves language users in plural in a particular context; the evolution of language and the development of language are very different, first,in timescale and, second, in the number of humans involved; learning and teaching are related (the latter is dependent on the former) but categorically different. Given these differences, I wonder whether these are to be united in explanation.]

Q: Would you agree with Larsen-Freeman when she says "No longer must we decontextualize, segregate, idealize, and atemporalize language (Larsen-Freeman, 2008)"? Read the following remark by a generative linguist.

I should state right away, to avoid bitter disappointments in my readers, that we will treat language (and other cognitive capacities of ours, like music, mathematics, vision, etc.) as a natural object, fit for scientific inquiry. We will not focus on all the ways in which we use language (and the rest of our minds) in daily interactions with others. Instead we will focus on our unconscious knowledge of language, that which gives us the ability to form an infinite range of expressions, and at the same time exclude countless other ways of expressing ourselves. This focus of investigation turns out to be the only way to make progress. If you know a little bit about the history of the more established sciences (physics, chemistry, biology), this should not surprise you. The way science progresses is by first acknowledging the complexity of the world, and immediately admitting the futility of attempts to provide a full description of it. Once humbled by this recognition of the vastness of the problem, the best way forward for the scientist is to extract a small corner of the problem, make a few simplifying assumptions, and attempt to gain some understanding of that small part of the world.

Cedric Boeckx (2009) Language in Cognition: Uncovering Mental Structures and the Rules Behind Them (p. xii). Wiley-Blackwell. Kindle Edition.

p. 53

Michael Tomasello has his official homepage, which contains a lot of downloadable papers.

Larsen-Freeman cites Tomasellos's Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition on p. 53.

Below are some excerpts from Chapter 1 of the book. The first is the part where Tomasello expresses that Skinner vs. Chomsky paradigm (Read Chomsky's A Review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior) is to be overcome with two general findings in recent cognitive sciences. Tomasello argues that children can get from 'here' (= the poverty of stimulus) to 'there' (= language acquisition) without the help of universal grammar.

But much has happened in the last two decades in developmental psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science which suggests a re-evaluation of the situation, that is, which suggests that children can get from here to there, and that they can do it without the aid of any hypothesized universal grammar. There are two fundamental points: (1) children have at their disposal much more powerful learning mechanisms than simple association and blind induction; and (2) there exist plausible and rigorous theories of language that characterize adult linguistic competence in much more child-friendly terms than does generative grammar-which makes the endpoint of language acquisition seem much closer.

Michael Tomasello. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition (p. 3). Kindle Edition.

The points (1) and (2) are explained as follows:

The first point is that modern developmental psychologists and cognitive scientists no longer think of children's learning as isolated association-making and induction, but rather they think of it as integrated with other cognitive and social-cognitive skills-in ways that Skinner and the Behaviorists (and Chomskv in his critiques) could never have envisaged. Two sets of such skills are of particular importance for language acquisition. The first set comprises various skills of intention-reading (theory of mind, broadly conceived).

Michael Tomasello. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition (p. 3). Kindle Edition.

The other main set of skills is those involved in various kinds of pattern-finding-categorization, broadly defined.

Michael Tomasello. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition (p. 4). Kindle Edition.

Thus, Tomasello proposes a theory of language acquisition without nativism: usage-based theory.

But in recent years a new view of language and human linguistic competence has begun to emerge. This view is represented by a group of theories most often called cognitive-functional linguistics but sometimes also called usage-based linguistics to emphasize their central processing tenet that language structure emerges from language use (e.g., Langacker, 1987a, 1991, 2000; Croft, 1991, 2001; Goldberg, 1995; Givon, 1995; Bybee, 1985, 1995, 2002; see Tomasello, 1998a, in press, and Barlow and Kemmer, 2000, for similar approaches). Usage-based theories hold that the essence of language is its symbolic dimension, with grammar being derivative. The ability to communicate with conspecifics symbolically (conventionally, intersubjectively) is a species-specific biological adaptation. But, in contrast to generative grammar and other formal approaches, in usage-based approaches the grammatical dimension of language is a product of a set of historical and ontogenetic processes referred to collectively as grammaticalization. When human beings use symbols to communicate with one another, stringing them together into sequences, patterns of use emerge and become consolidated into grammatical constructions-for example, the English passive construction, noun phrase construction, or -ed past tense construction. As opposed to conceiving linguistic rules as algebraic procedures for combining words and morphemes that do not themselves contribute to meaning, this approach conceives linguistic constructions as themselves meaningful linguistic symbols-since they are nothing other than the patterns in which meaningful linguistic symbols are used in communication (for example, the passive construction is used to communicate about an entity to which something happens).
Michael Tomasello. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition (p. 5). Kindle Edition.

Q: What would be the implications of Tomasello's argument for language teachers? Discuss.

Below is his essay on the New York Times in 2008. You may see his emphasis on social aspects of human cognition.

You might think that human beings at least enjoy the advantage of being more generally intelligent. To test this idea, my colleagues and I recently administered an array of cognitive tests -- the equivalent of nonverbal I.Q. tests -- to adult chimpanzees and orangutans (two of our closest primate relatives) and to 2-year-old human children. As it turned out, the children were not more skillful overall. They performed about the same as the apes on the tests that measured how well they understood the physical world of space, quantities and causality. The children performed better only on tests that measured social skills: social learning, communicating and reading the intentions of others.

But such social gifts make all the difference. Imagine a child born alone on a desert island and somehow magically kept alive. What would this child’s cognitive skills look like as an adult ? with no one to teach her, no one to imitate, no pre-existing tools, no spoken or written language? She would certainly possess basic skills for dealing with the physical world, but they would not be particularly impressive. She would not invent for herself English, or Arabic numerals, or metal knives, or money. These are the products of collective cognition; they were created by human beings, in effect, putting their heads together.
Tomasello, M. (2008). How are humans unique? New York Times Magazine, May 25, 2008

Take a look at his other books as well.

p. 55

Larsen-Freeman mentions Mihail Bakhtin.

Q: Read the following sections of Wikipedia. Explain his concepts such as unfinalizability, others, polyphony, heteroglossia, dialogism.

Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics: polyphony and unfinalizability

The Dialogic Imagination: Chronotope, Heteroglossia

Q: What is fractal? Would you agree with Larsen-Freeman when she says "language is fractal"? (Larsen-Freeman, 1997)? (What is recursion?)

p. 56

Q: What is connectionism?

p. 57

Larsen-Freeman quotes Ema Ushioda in Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self.
Here's the extended quotation from my Kindle version.

Let me summarise then what I mean by a person-in-context relational view of motivation. I mean a focus on real persons, rather than on learners as theoretical abstractions; a focus on the agency of the individual person as a thinking, feeling human being, with an identity, a personality, a unique history and background, a person with goals, motives and intentions; a focus on the interaction between this self-reflective intentional agent, and the fluid and complex system of social relations, activities, experiences and multiple micro- and macro-contexts in which the person is embedded, moves, and is inherently part of. My argument is that we need to take a relational (rather than linear) view of these multiple contextual elements, and view motivation as an organic process that emerges through the complex system of interrelations.

Ushioda (2011) "A Person-in-Context Relational View of Emergent Motivation, Self and Identity" in Dornyei, Zoltan; Ushioda, Ema (2011-09-09). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (Second Language Acquisition) (Kindle Locations 4815-4820) [presumably p.218 in the print version]. Channel View Publications. Kindle Edition.

Ushioda continues to argue about the issue of self-reflectivity (or self-reference)

As they point out (Sealey & Carter, 2004: 205), it is a distinctive characteristic of human beings that we have reflexivity that is, we have the ability, through self-consciousness, to attain a degree of objectivity towards ourselves in the world, and to make decisions among a range of possible choices, rather than simply be determined by the world and our instincts (or, we might add, by our componentised subpersonal parts).

Ushioda (2011) "A Person-in-Context Relational View of Emergent Motivation, Self and Identity" in Dornyei, Zoltan; Ushioda, Ema (2011-09-09). Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self (Second Language Acquisition) (Kindle Locations 4848-4851). Channel View Publications. Kindle Edition.

Q: Do you think Larsen-Freeman's version of Complexity Theory sufficiently deals with self-reflexivity (or self-reference)?

p. 58

Q: Larsen-Freeman introduces criticism against her version of Complexity theory. What do you think of the criticism?

Some have criticized the extension of complexity theory -- a theory originating in the natural sciences -- to human endeavors such as language acquisition. They have pointed out that self-organization may not be inevitable in human processes due to agency and volition, which can override any inevitablity characterristic of naturally occuring complex systems. (p. 58)

Compare the notion of agency and volition above and the notions held by neuroscientists below.

David Eagleman (The Brain on Trial. The Atlantic)

Benjamin Libet (my summary)

(Or read the metaphor of a boy on an elephant.)

Varela, Thompson, and Rosch (1991) The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. I still remember the excitement when I read this book about 20 years ago. There is a Japanese translation as well.

p. 61

Gregory Bateson is a great thinker. I never pretend I undersand him well: This is why I want to read his books again and again.

Q: What is retrodiction?

p. 63

Q: What is contingency?

p. 66

Q: What is your opinion of the quotation from Cilliers (2008, p. 48)? Read the section of radical constructivism in the article of constructivist episitemology and discuss.

p. 67

Larsen-Freeman quotes Kramsch (2009, p. 247):

Complexity theory, which originated in the physical sciences, has been used as a productive metaphor in SLA to stress the relativity of self and other, the need to consider events on more than one timescale and to take into account the fractal nature and unfinalizability of events.

Q: What do you think of the expression "a productive metaphor"?

Larsen-Freeman herself concludes this article as follows.

Above all, complexity theory argues for epistemological modesty. To understand L2 development more completely, we must resist the arrogance of certainty and premature closure (Larsen-Freeman, 2002b). Indeed, complexity theory "should ... be seen not as aiming at a new 'synthetic theory' of complexity of any kind, but a cross-disciplinary field of research and a meeting place for dialogue" (Emmeche, 1997, in Cilliers, 2001, p. 137).

Q: What do you think of this concluding remark?

Here are other works by Larsen-Freeman on complexity.

Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics

Language as a Complex Adaptive System