- Mapping Applied Linguistics: A guide for students and practitionersby Christopher J. Hall, Patrick H. Smith and Rachel Wicaksono
Writing a textbook on applied linguistics is a challenging task due to the broad range of language-related phenomena discussed in the field, such as language learning, literacy, language planning and policy, language rights, bilingual education, language pathology, language variation, discourse analysis, lexicography and forensic linguistics.
The textbook by Hall et al. (2017) successfully addresses this challenge by inviting the intended reader (e.g., an undergraduate student in applied linguistics or a practitioner of such) to view it as a guide or a map that sketches the diverse terrain of applied linguistics. With the exception of Chapter 1 “Introduction”, the reader can start from any chapter, and the discussion of each topic is supported by further suggested readings and end-of-chapter activities.
Despite the broad range of topics discussed in the book, the reader will not be lost in her journey, as the discussion of language-related problems is shaped by the philosophy adopted by the authors. This philosophy, which makes this textbook stand out among other textbooks on applied linguistics, emphasizes (i) that linguistic diversity encompasses all natural languages and their varieties, including unstandardizedones; (ii) the multidisciplinary nature of the field and the fact that it views language as a cognitive as well as a sociocultural phenomenon; (iii) a strong connection between research and the local, bottom-up practices of language users, and (iv) critical approaches to applied linguistics with the objective of making the world a better, more equitable and socially just place.
The discussion of language-related problems starts with Chapter 1, which provides a definition of the term applied linguisticsand discusses ‘folk’ theories of language. Folk notions of languages cannot be simply ignored, the authors claim, as they [End Page 129]have profound effects on language users. An example of this is “the myth of Monolithic English” (Hall, 2005: 252, Pennycook, 2007: 27), which can be summarized in the following two folk maxims:
▪ ‘the’ English language is a monolithic social entity, characterized by the ‘standard variety’ spoken by educated native speakers;
▪ English learners learn, and English teachers teach, ‘the’ English language, analogous to the way ‘proper’ table manners may be learned, taught and prescribed.
The existence of such notions or theories is explained by the lack of general awareness of the dual biological and social nature of language. The three parts of the book (A, B, and C) challenge folk theories by highlighting the most important theoretical and empirical findings in the field.
The objective of Part A “Language in Everyday Use”, which includes chapters on language variation, key populations, discourse analysis, and language policy and planning, is to fight ‘a common sense’ view of language as a monolithic system operated by a set of prescribed rules. By discussing language variation (e.g., accents, dialectal variation, registers, contact varieties, and global Englishes), the authors invite the readers to think about languages as sandy beaches, rain clouds and galaxies, rather than rocks. The discussion of different approaches to discourse analysis includes linguistic (e.g., corpus linguistics) approaches, and social (e.g., critical discourse analysis) approaches. The modern approach to text as a multimodal discourse, where meaning is constructed through everyday objects, sculptures, still or moving images, and sounds, is also examined in Part A. While discussing the literature on language planning and policy, the authors introduce the concept of critical language planningas a way to investigate social causes of language policies (e.g., poverty and marginalization) and translanguaging, as a way to account for multiple linguistic resources available to multilingual speakers residing in major metropolitan areas. The authors define translanguagingas “multilingualism from below” (p. 119).
Part B “Language, Learning and Education” includes chapters on literacy, the teaching and learning of additional languages, and biand multilingual education. In their discussion of literacy and educational practices, the authors criticize the deficit modelof education, which is used to describe the gap...