Claire Kramsch

Claire Kramsch

University of California Berkeley
kramsch 01

Claire Kramsch is Emerita Professor of German and Affilate Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught courses in German and in Applied Linguistics, and where she was the founding director of the Berkeley Language Center. Her areas of interest are applied linguistics, language learning and teaching, language and culture, and bi- and multilingualism. Her many publications include Interaction et discours dans la classe de langue (Hatier, 1984), Context and Culture in Language Teaching (OUP, 1993), Language and Culture (OUP, 1998), The multilingual subject (OUP, 2009), The multilingual instructor (OUP, 2018 with Lihua Zhang), and Language as symbolic power (CUP, 2021). She is the past president of the American and the International Association of Applied Linguistics and the past editor of the international journal Applied Linguistics. She is currently the coeditor of two book series with Routledge and Cambridge University Press, and the editor of the L2 Journal.

Talk Information:

Decolonizing Foreign Language Education
August 13, 2022 | 12:00 PM

Linguists and applied linguists tend to think that the history of foreign language education underwent changes after WWII because of changes in communication technologies (language labs, then media labs, communication and information processing technologies), as well as the need to communicate with people orally in the small c culture of everyday life, not with the written texts of big C culture (Kramsch, 2014, 2019). They understand that in the switch from the grammar translation to the communicative approach to teaching foreign languages, there were economic interests at stake (“Speak English, buy British” went a motto of the British Council) and that the needs of non-English speakers in the workplace were of concern to the multinational corporations that sprung up after WWII. But they don’t pay as much attention to the foreign policy aspects of FL education in those post-war years and to the colonial legacies of such foreign policy. The global spread of English was supposed to do away with this legacy, but today applied linguists realize that translation into global English itself poses an epistemological problem for intercultural understanding in educational research and practice. (Santos 2014, Cusicanqui 2019, Maranhao & Streck 2003, Macedo 2019, Castaneda et al. forthcoming). This paper conceptualizes and discusses these complex educational issues.

For further reading:

Kramsch, C. (2019). Between globalization and decolonization: Foreign languages in the cross-fire. In D. Macedo (Ed.) Decolonizing Foreign Language Education: The Misteaching of English and other Colonial Languages (pp. 50-72). Routledge.

Play Video