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BY AYSHA MOHD SHARIF

What are the matters of concern/issues in Applied Linguistics? How are


these related in the teaching of English for Specific purposes?
Crystal (2001: 23) defines applied linguistics as a branch of linguistics where the primary
concern is the application of linguistic theories, methods and findings to the elucidation of
language problems which have arisen in other areas of experience. The well-developed
branch of applied linguistics is the teaching and learning of foreign languages. As Crystal
highlights that the primary concern is to the elucidation of language problems , it shows that
the interpretation of applied linguistics has been done in several ways by different researchers
who interpret different understanding of the field. Researchers like Brumfit, Widdowson, and
Crystal have different interpretations of applied linguistics. Due to different interpretations,
the pedagogical preoccupation of applied linguistics gradually gave way to a more extensive
focus by including more aspects of the academic study of language. Due to this, different
researcher focused on different academic study which included vocabulary, grammar, forensic
studies, and discourse studies and so on. Therefore, Tudor (2005) highlighted that the
identification of applied linguistics with language teaching methodology is very loose. The
main difference seems to be in the degree of involvement of applied linguistics in the subject
matter of language teaching. With different subject matter of language teaching, spoken and
written discourses are mainly utilized in the study of applied linguistics. The written or
spoken discourses can be related to any issue which may be related to language policies,
gender issues, and sociolinguistic aspects. Some applied linguists are concerned with helping
planners and policy-makers develop and implement a language policy, or develop
programmes for immigrants coming to the United States or other countries. Therefore one the
main issue in applied linguistics is that it tends to be concerned only with some aspects of
language teaching and learning, namely those which are related to language itself. Strictly

speaking, foreign or second language methodology covers a much more extended area than
that of linguistics application. As highlighted by Tudor (2005), applied linguistics has also
been utilized in the study of special learning needs of specific populations. The special
learning needs of specific populations can be seen as the idea of English for specific
purposes where applied linguistics is also applied in teaching. Applied linguistics is defined
as an interdisciplinary field of linguistics that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to
language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics
are education, psychology, computer science, communication research, anthropology, and
sociology. As generally perceived that applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of
research for the study of all aspects of language use. Being a non-language-specific field, it
primarily deals with mother, foreign and second language acquisition but also examines the
relationship between language and such areas as the media, law, or communication which
also highlights the element of ESP where there is a relationship between language and other
areas. Another main issue is that when teaching applied linguistics, mostly there is a
confusion whether the branches of applied linguistics are been taught on their own like
discourse analysis or the practical language learning and teaching problems are included in
them while teaching as applied linguistics is more related to the real world problems than the
theoretical explorations. But interestingly the emergence of this issue of being related to
applied linguistics relates it well with ESP teaching which also to an extent deals with the
problems of the learners with the needs of the real world. ESP, a field of English language
teaching targets in fulfilling the needs of the learners to meet the real world needs. The
language used in ESP is a loaded weapon giving speakers power to effect changes in their
immediate environment but, at the same time, this weapon can backfire if mishandled. It is
vital that ESP students realize this power dimension and be trained to be careful and
calculating in its handling. The connections in ESP between the real world and the language
are context-governed.

As Applied linguistics is a vast field of different techniques which incorporates language


elements like grammar, vocabulary, pragmatics in language learning and teaching, it has a
dual functional characteristic where on one side it is dealing with the primary issues of
fields like second and foreign language acquisition and pedagogy, sociolinguistics, discourse
analysis where it majorly focuses on the theories of language acquisition, processes involved
in acquisition, practical issues of language pedagogy whereas on the other hand it is more of
interdisciplinary and academic biased in nature where it focuses on second language
acquisition, language for specific purposes, language teaching, curriculum and focus on the
research methods of applied linguistics which shows both the characteristics of being
interdisciplinary and academic which is again related to ESP which is also interdisciplinary
and academic in nature where different disciplines meet with language and are taught
academically in different the contexts and the needs of the real world. The second functional
characteristic of applied linguistics influences ESP teaching as ESP teaching is not about
restricted language theories and rules but focus more on communicative aspects of language
use. Different disciplines are connected with language which makes ESP significant as the
language used in a particular discipline is taught in an ESP class. ESP teaching is very
different from other fields of language teaching as it also does not focus on primary ideas and
theories of language acquisition as applied linguistics primary function but focuses on the
acquisition of language for communicating in a particular situation. It is taught academically
and non-academically also to learners of different disciplines where the learners may be
second language acquirers or a foreign language acquirers. But while teaching the application
of teaching vocabulary, grammar for that particular situation is done with the principles of
applied linguistics.

Therefore according to (Kramsch, 2000) mainly concern is with the level of performance and
refers to the systematic application of validated principles to practical contexts. Although it

draws on theory, it is generally reserved for practitioners in language classrooms. This level
of performance also predetermines the issues of its focus, such as language resources and
skills, classroom tasks and activities, management of learning, ways of motivating students,
lesson planning, curriculum and syllabus design, error correction, textbook/materials design,
selection and evaluation (Tudor, 2005).

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