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The Problem of False Language Awareness

By Agneta Marie-Louise Svalberg


This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Language Awareness, 10 (2-3), pp. 200-212, 2001 © Taylor & Francis, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09658410108667035.The boldness of the Language Awareness undertaking is encapsulated in the word 'awareness', implying knowledge of 'the truth', as evidenced in the collocation 'to be aware of with 'the fact that'. Thus a Language Awareness approach tries to guide learners towards discovery and understanding of truths about language. This paper tries to show that sometimes, on the contrary, learners are lead to acquire a false awareness. That is to say, instruction may create or reinforce misconceptions about the language. Explanations, choice of context and visual illustrations can all be misleading. It has been found, for example, that would is more strongly associated with unreality among Malay-speaking learners that among native speakers of English (Svalberg, 1998 and forthcoming). The classroom focus on conditional contexts encourages this particular association above other equally valid ones. It will also be shown that instruction may encourage learners to construe alternative, non-English tense systems. The overall purpose of the paper is to raise the question of whether the descriptive models teachers work with are adequate for the aims of a Language Awareness approach to language teaching.Peer-reviewedPost-prin

Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1080/09658410108667035
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/1061

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