Defining Applied Linguistics and its scope
Applied linguistics it seems to be a not very easy concept to define, because many people would think different things when it comes to applied linguistics. Indeed, for many years those who carry out applied linguistics seem do not agree upon a universal definition. However, what it is true for all of them is the fact that there is a gap that needs to be filled in terms of defining applied linguistics. The definition of the problem is probably due to the lack of agreement on what is to be applied? There are people who claim for a dictionary definition which say that applied linguistics has a core, and they do not accept supposed definitions. For example, Widdowson claims that applied linguistics has a core and he rejects the claim that says that applied linguistics is a mixture of many disciplines. On the other hand Widdowson and Cook believed that "the task of applied linguistics is to mediate between linguistics and language use". Another definition of applied linguistics by Guy Cook is "the academic discipline concerned with the relation of knowledge about language to decision making in that real world". However, the scope of applied linguistics is still not very clear.
It is important to mention that the definitions of Applied Linguistics have been closely related with its scope, and most of the initial definitions were closely related with an educational branch, particularly because its scope was the researched pedagogy of language teaching. During the 1950s, the focus was on structural and functional linguistics, which could be applied to language teaching and literacy in first and second language. Years later, more and more focus where added, as language assessment, language policies and second language acquisition, all these, focused on learning rather than teaching. Real world problems rather than theoretical explorations where also included, language assessment, second acquisition, literacy,...
References: • Bygate, Martin. (2005). Applied Linguistics: A Pragmatic Discipline, a Generic Discipline? Oxford University Press, Pp.568-581.
• Cambridge University Press [CUP]. (2009). What is Applied Linguistics?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Cook, Gay. (2003). Applied Linguistics Oxford University. Introductions to Language Study.
• Davies, Alan (2007), "History and Definition" of Applied Linguistics, (ch.1) by An Introduction to Applied Linguistics, Edinburg University Press.
• Grabe, William (2010) "Applied Linguistics: A Twenty – First – Century Discipline" (ch.2) cited in The Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistics, edited by Robert B. Kaplan, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press.
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