1 Language as knowledge, language as educational medium
In a course like this, in which we are concerned with the teaching and learning of a language, we have the difficult task of simultaneously maintaining two conceptions of ‘language’. The first is as the subject matter of teaching and learning: the nature of the language which is being taught, the ways in which this language is defined by the curriculum of schools, and the ways it is used in the world which learners in teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) classes are active in. But a second way we can consider language is as a medium for the interactive process of teaching-and-learning. In any classroom, whatever curriculum subject is being taught, language is the primary means by which relative ‘experts’ (teachers) help relative ‘novices’, or ‘apprentices’, to develop their knowledge and understanding.
We will now give direct attention to analysing the ways in which language is used as a medium for the teaching and learning of English. To make this kind of analysis, we will draw on a research tradition that is mainly a psychological tradition, though it also draws on anthropology, linguistics and educational research, and is usually called socio-cultural psychology. It is centrally concerned with language use, but in a rather different way than might be expected.