Ensayo de los instintos

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TESOL at Forty: What Are the Issues?
Baruch College and Graduate Center, City University of New York New York, New York, United States

This overview delineates the direction of pedagogical developments since the 25th anniversary issue of TESOL Quarterly. Three tendencies characterize our professional practice: (a) a continuation along the earlier lines of progression (i.e., in opening up the classroom to learning opportunities, integrating skills, and teaching for specific purposes); (b) a radical reorientation along new paradigms (i.e., in understanding motivation and acquisition in terms of social participation and identity construction; in developing methods from the ground up, based on generative heuristics;
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For the state of the art serves to define what is legitimate knowledge in the field. That is to say, the description will become the new orthodoxy. Therefore,
TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 40, No. 1, March 2006



the histories we narrate not only reflect but shape history. Such awareness makes writing the state of the art a controversial and contested activity. If histories are actually stories (from specific locations and locutors), let us acknowledge up front that there are multiple stories of TESOL. I will tell the TESOL story differently if I am narrating it from my postcolonial setting in rural Jaffna, Sri Lanka, where I learned ESL and taught for a while, or if I narrate it from my current setting in the postmodern metropolis of New York City, where I teach transnational multilingual students. The plural stories of TESOL are already colliding in the publications in our field. For example, compare Howatt’s (2004) self-assured History of English Language Teaching, which traces the progress in constructing efficient methods and materials as ELT marched on from medieval England to become an autonomous discipline, with Spack’s (2002) painful America’s Second Tongue, which narrates the imposition of English on Native American children—both insightfully reviewed from another location (Oaxaca, Mexico) by Angeles Clemente (2005) in the pages of this

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