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International conference Languages-Cultures-Societies - DILTEC Groupe Tâches et dispositifs
Didactique des langues, des Textes et des Cultures



DILTEC (Didactique des langues, des textes et des cultures) is a research unit now involved in drawing the conclusions of a four-year term. Its members thought that an international conference in Paris on June 20 to 22 would serve the purpose. It would provide the opportunity to share with colleagues working in other research groups and to question the perspectives opening up in applied linguistics.

 In order to deal with the different domains and themes that the members of DILTEC cover, the conference will be organized in four themes. These themes have different orientations and partially common interests which trigger a reflection on the links between didactics and the disciplines it refers to. Understanding its objects leads to working at the intersection of disciplines such as linguistics, sociology, literature, anthropology, psychology, which contribute to clarifying research questions in didactics.

 Two keynote speeches will open and close the conference in order to determine worldwide trends in research in the field on the one hand, and to retrace the major conclusions of the conference. Research carried out by DILTEC members will be summarized in four plenary papers. The conference will be a place where researchers meet and exchange in order to highlight, describe, analyze or even question the complexity of the relationships that connect languages, cultures and societies (or the disciplines that study them) in research in language learning and teaching.

 To clarify our point, each the objectives of the four themes will now be described to help potential contributors.

 Theme 1 – Language and Educational Policies

Educational institutions are the decisive actors of language policies. They are in charge of ensuring the transmission of languages and knowledge and the propagation of official or predominant language norms within a variability framework… They constitute an authority of sociolinguistic legitimisation… In this sense, their aim is not only to enhance, manage and develop learner language and discourse repertories, in order to ensure social cohesion, personal and professional development and equality of chances but also to meet the state's language needs.

 These responsibilities require producing, setting up and evaluating – with respect to the contexts and the learner groups concerned – adequate systems in terms of purposes, objectives, programmes and teaching procedures. All of which call for an indispensable democratic balance which takes multilingual realities into consideration – something that politically it has become too costly to ignore. Papers will be based on the questions raised by the development, setting up and analysis of such systems, as concerns all of the involved languages (concerning schooling abroad, regional use, or minority languages brought in by migrating people, in educational contexts such as pre-elementary, compulsary, secondary level (general and professional) education, university, or continuing education…

 Theme 2 – Epistemology and History

Papers should shed new light on subjects that have been traditionally dealt with in the history and/or epistemology of teaching disciplines: processes of theoretical legitimation, of integration in school curricula and of institutional linguistic and literary knowledge; resorting of language didactics to theories of reference, and more particularly to linguistic theories; the role of contributing disciplines (acquisition theories, cultural anthropology – or, more widely, culture sciences –, sociolinguistics, theory of interactions, psychology and/or cognitive linguistics…), etc. On a larger scale, we shall give priority to proposals devoted to modern and contemporary eras, and those which aim to present a state of the most recent research in epistemology and language didactics. Some papers may refer to works or publications within the DILTEC framework, and more particularly to

‐ the integrating of language didactics within the discipline of language sciences, and more largely humain and social sciences;

‐ the contribution of history (sciences history and history of taught knowledge) to the epistemology of disciplines and to the links cultivated by history and epistemology in the different epistemological paradigms;

‐ the conceptual renewal of research focused on plurilingualism;

‐ the relationship between scientific and personal/ideological perspectives, to the ethical and deontological effect of historico-epistemological reflexion in this domain.

 Whether they are of monographic type or for more general purposes, the talks expected should also be linked to:

- the epistemological stakes represented by the teaching and research systems in language didactics: the organization of language programmes (teaching programmes, teacher recruitment policies and modes…) and research (conferences, scientific journals, learned societies, laboratories…) in different national or international contexts;

‐ the different forms of propagation and vulgarisation of didactic knowledge and the return effects of the teaching practices or social and political demand regarding the organisation of research in the domain;

‐ the historiographic models available and the questions regarding method in the history of language didactics (periodisations, establishing data, corpus constitution, etc.);

‐ the formation and/or the organisation of traditions or of schools of thought in the area of language didactics;

‐ the conditions and the forms of integration of teaching devoted to the history/epistemology of didactics within the framework of the language didactics in university programmes.

 Thème 3 – Contextualisation of didactic action

The didactic action which is carried out with respect to a group of learners is always embedded within a context, and is situated and diverse in its realities. Likewise, the research perspectives of the person observing and attempting to account for what is observed are also very diverse. The context of the didactic action can be characterised through variables which are quite largely accepted, such as the sociolinguistic context (alloglot or homoglot), the school level (primary, secondary or higher education), the type of education (initial or continuing), the age of the learners, the modality of the situation, the exposure to the language – guided by a teacher, learning by immersion, non guided natural acquisition, formal or informal –, the sociolinguistic status of the teacher (native or non-native of the taught language) or, also, the status that one attributes to the language/languages subject to didactic processing. The teaching systems also imply as many contexts, whether this be within the framework of traditional courses, courses giving way to interaction, or, on the other hand, hybrid courses or distance-learning through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). These variables serve to characterize contexts which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. These contexts bring about intense reflection concerning the language teacher’s actions, his/her/their representations and knowledge as well as the exploration of interaction modalities: teacher training as results from this has undergone fundamental renewal. We invite the participants to present work that is geared to the characterisation of contexts as related to teachers’ actions in their historical, institutional, sociolinguistic and socio-political dimensions, but also locally defined by the actors themselves, and this through empirical research or theoretical investigation in language acquisition, from the following angles:

- class discourse, discourse and enunciation, registers, description according to context;

- teachers’ representations, the learners and civil society of the teaching/learning languages: beliefs, ideologies which depend on the sociocultural environments;

- training profiles and teacher trajectories, teaching cultures and didactic repertories;

- conception, setting up and evaluation of tasks and of language teaching/learning systems;

- acquisition and appropriation of French as a foreign language and experience of bilingual or plurilingual appropriation according to various contexts and according to the didactics objectives in circulation (questioning with respect to the institutional references such as those of the CECR).

 Theme 4 – Cultures and languages under tension

Today’s globalisation succeeds various previous stages and forms of globalisation, which in the past never stopped creating tension between cultures and languages – indeed they created direct opposition within the very societies, the very cultural space, or the junction points (if not fractures) of these spaces.

 Among these tensions, one of the most striking types concerns the relationship between languages, which are necessarily uneven and still unstable – something we are reminded of through the propagation of literature, the economy of translation, foreign language teaching and, more largely, the existence of a « language market ». Beyond the differentiations of social origin, these tensions also affect the relationships established in the same economic or national space by native and non-native subjects. In effect, forced or non-forced travel by humans and the various forms of plurilingualism that they favour constitute one of the characteristics of globalisation, as observed in immigration, chosen expatriation or tourism.

 The communication propositions can be related to the following points of access :

Diversity of languages and cultures: the dialectics of the global and of the local.

The point here will be to determine in what way speaking a language does not necessarily mean belonging to the same culture, as well as to reflect upon the degree to which language diversity is not necessarily incompatible with convergence, if not unity, or unification, or even cultural standardisation. This leads us to take stock of the complexity of the dialectics of the “global” and the “local”. From this perspective the accent can especially be placed on the French language and literature from francophone regions.

 ‐ Plurilingualism and didactics of the teaching of foreign languages and cultures.

Particular attention can be paid to the consequences of the extension of important languages in communication, as would put into question the very idea of the “native speaker”, and which necessarily increases the number of non-native language teachers. From this point of view, didactics lead us back to questioning the legitimacy of foreign languages and culture teachers.

 ‐ The effect of Internet and digitisation on the language and culture economy.

This dimension, essential today in the circulation and the transmission of knowledge, seems to reinforce the writing and circulation of texts and information in languages and graphic systems, which were long undervalued. In parallel, distribution between the oral and written codes (and between languages) has been modified and considerably complexified. Finally, digitisation also leads to sharing of images which, by definition, are necessarily ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Cedric Brudermann & Martine Derivry - 31/03/12