Monday, January 25, 2021

Stylistics in Second Language Contexts

 Why use stylistics in second language contexts?

Stylistics in Second Language Contexts  : In second and foreign language contexts, use of literary texts is often advocated as a means to enhance proficiency in reading, vocabulary growth and cultural knowledge, if not indeed, in more traditional systems, as the culminating final aim of foreign language education, appreciation of the literary classics as the highest achievement of that language and civilization. The actual language of texts is self-evidently especially important and of interest for second language readers, for whom, in management speak, it can be seen to represent both an opportunity and a threat. Processing of literary text is often seen as difficult, but also worth the effort as a potentially rich and engaging source of relevant language data from which to learn.

Where some advocate extensive or authentic reading almost for its own sake, as a result of which the language will be absorbed, the advocate of stylistics as a means to develop language proficiency is committed to the value of conscious attention to details of linguistic features ‘foregrounded’ in a text, whether through ‘deviance’ of some kind, or simply as the consequence of repetitions, parallelism or other such salient patternings seen to contribute significantly to meaning. The metalinguistic reflection and discussion promoted by stylistic approaches in the second language classroom are held to contribute to deeper processing, understanding, memorability and development of the additional language in use.

Again, however, some would question whether awareness raising stylistic activities – even if taking the form of practical transformation exercises as an increasingly advocated practical way to investigate choice in classroom contexts – can be shown to translate into enhanced ability for learners to use the language for their own purposes. Acquisition is argued to follow on from ‘form focused instruction’ (Ellis, 2001; Doughty and Williams, 1998), but evidence to date from such writers has been for rather limited acquisition of a few structures over relatively short spans of time and in relatively controlled environments. Admittedly this is by definition a difficult area to research, and the lack of an adequate methodology may be under-representing the real benefits to be gained from such approaches. Little of such research, however, could be called directly ‘stylistic’.

What is context in stylistics?

Stylistics in Second Language Contexts where Context is the background, environment, setting, framework, or surroundings of events or occurrences. Simply, context means circumstances forming a background of an event, idea or statement, in such a way as to enable readers to understand the narrative or a literary piece.

Stylistics, a branch of applied linguistics, is the study and interpretation of texts of all types and/or spoken language in regard to their linguistic and tonal style, where style is the particular variety of language used by different individuals and/or in different situations or settings.

Who is the father of stylistics?


Spitzer (1887-1960), began to analyze literary works from a stylistic point of view, and therefore, Spitzer is often considered as the “father of literary stylistics”. From the beginning of the 1930s to the end of the 1950s stylistics was developing slowly and was only confined to the European continent.



Stylistic Approaches Promote Language Learning

Stylistics in Second Language Contexts and it In a well-known article on the use of literature in language teaching, Edmondson (1997) claims that the field is generally characterized by speculation, assertion and counter-assertion. Others, even where more favourable in principle, have agreed that there is more advocacy than evidence to be found in this field. Thus, for example, Hanauer (2001):

There is very little actual empirical data relating to the reading and comprehension of literature within the language classroom Stylistics in Second Language Contexts

• Much stylistic research involves the analysis of literary texts, not how real readers, let alone non-native readers, understand these texts…

• Current arguments both for and against the use of literature in the classroom are only loosely based on empirical evidence…

• None of the theories of language learning directly state a role for literary reading within the language learning process

The problem with the kind of benefits claimed in the preceding section, however attractive and appropriate they may sound, is that there is indeed little empirical evidence that they result from stylistic approaches. Intuitively, it would seem self-evident that language learners can learn a lot from paying close attention to the language of linguistically rich texts, though many teachers would point to the need for focused ‘interactive’ activity, rather than disinterested intellectual contemplation. Much of this kind of pedagogical endeavour, however, is based on wish-fulfilment and teacher preference, or at best theoretical thinking, as much as evidence from educational research. Where such research has been published, it often deals more with the first language situation in English-speaking countries and is then assumed to apply by default to second language situations. But in such situations, at the least, the language variable will be radically different, as will the kind of knowledges, experience, expectations and understandings the students bring to the second language text. We know, for example, that there are strong correlations between extensive reading and vocabulary development for L1 readers (Nagy and Herman 1987). Generally, too, it seems that those who read more (unsurprisingly perhaps) are those likely to be more educationally successful. But this is the kind of level of rather unremarkable generality at which much of even this first language research remains reliable. Readers of literature in particular are argued to develop greater expertise in modes of reading which seek connections and meanings beyond the obvious and literal – ‘point driven reading’ in the terms of Hunt and Vipond (1985).

Stylistics in Second Language Contexts On the other hand, the most robust finding of second language reading research to date is that everything is read more slowly, and that this lack of ‘automaticity’ appears disabling rather than helpful for most readers (see, for example, Bernhardt 1991). This may, however, be more a point about reading than about the learning that might result from reading. Similarly a growing interest in ‘affect’ in second language acquisition studies suggests that involvement and pleasure of the kind that literary reading can promote can significantly contribute to learning. But again, attitudes research shows clearly across a huge diversity of language learning situations that the majority of language learners do not find the use of literature valuable, or at best remain to be convinced that it will help their developing language proficiency, even where it might be accepted as interesting for its own sake – e.g. Martin and Laurie (1993) and discussion in Hall (2005). Some writers argue for ‘tolerance of ambiguity’ as a common property of the successful language learner and of the successful literature reader, and this may be worth pausing over when we come to consider contemporary interest in language learning as a means of developing intercultural competence. In short, the picture is complicated and contradictory.

There is much more we need to know. Nevertheless, it is clear that an insensitive or ‘inappropriate’ pedagogical stylistic approach can vitiate the ecology of a successful and involving literary reading experience. To know what an ‘insensitive’ or ‘inappropriate’ approach might be, we need to move beyond the level of generality of some of the claims made so far in this chapter to investigations of stylistic interventions in specific classrooms to see what we can learn of likely effectiveness of successful approaches and possible wider lessons for all of us to learn. More longitudinal case studies of learners and classrooms exposed to such approaches are also called for. I return to this last point in final reflections on what it means to know a language and to make progress in one’s use of a second language.


What are the stylistic features of language?

Stylistics in Second Language Contexts Adnomination. Repetition of words with the same root.

  • Allegory. Representation of ideas through a certain form (character, event, etc.).
  • Alliteration
  • Allusion
  • Anaphora
  • Antithesis
  • Apostrophe
  • Assonance


Pedagogical Stylistics

New understandings of literature as discourse argue for an approach to literary text as one among a range of expressive and discursive possibilities, not necessarily valued more highly than adverts or other publicity, journalism and media communication, or less imaginative or fictional texts. Stylistics in Second Language Contexts  If literary texts are to be valued more highly, the argument runs, it should be for their greater inclusiveness or eclecticism, and so utility to the language learner, not their supposed distinctiveness. Literature, in this perspective, is possibly to be defined as the only discourse type capable of incorporating with new inflections any other of the more specialized text types (what Bakhtin called its typical ‘novelization’, or Carter’s ‘re-registration’). A weather report, for example, has specific features, yet can appear or be invoked in turn by a literary text. In such a view, there is no hard and fast line between ‘literature’ and other discourse types – perhaps one means to reduce learners’ resistance to use of such imaginative texts. Literature can only be understood through its complex and variable similarities and differences with other discourse types, and discourse stylistics enables the learner to appreciate these rich data better, as meaningful choices of style, register, genre, culture and identities in varying contexts. Stylistics in Second Language Contexts  Thus, advocacy of discourse stylistics in second language learning situations is based on the idea that promoting critical learner interactions with such rich linguistic and cultural data, asking why these words were used in this way in this context, with an appreciation of other possibilities that could have occurred, will also promote literary, linguistic and cultural learning relevant to learners’ own agendas. Still, we must concede only very limited empirical evidence in favour of such ideas. Pedagogical activities informed by such an approach are increasingly carried out in a changing environment of understandings of second language learning, with the emphasis on variation and the interactions of specific learners in specific classrooms. We can learn much from these more precise classroom investigations, and undoubtedly need to read more of such research. Classrooms are ‘messy’ research spaces, lacking the clean scientific tidiness of the science laboratory where variables can be methodically isolated for investigation. But they are where much learning will be seen to occur (or not). Even where such research is reported, we still read much more about students interacting with teachers, with the focus mainly on the teacher, than on students interacting with each other and with texts.


Kramsch (2000) reports a short-story reading and discussion in class by 26 students from Asian and Latin American countries in two intermediate ESL writing classes at the University of California, Berkeley. The students in one class were born in the US of migrant parents. A second class included more recent migrants. The story, ‘Crickets’ by R.O. Butler (1992), is told by a Vietnamese American called Thieu in Vietnam, now ‘Ted’ in the US. Ted tries to interest his son Bill in a game he knows from Vietnam (involving crickets) but fails. The students are asked to summarize the story individually and then to present their summaries aloud, with changes and revisions being discussed by the whole class. (Revisions are indicated by ‘strike through’ annotation.) Summaries of course always involve interpretation, and these interpretations seem to tell us about the students’ own interests and feelings as much as about the plot.

Kramsch argues that the story and the classroom discussion of the summaries offered these students some relevant and meaningful language through which they could explore or reconstruct in the classroom their own identities and feelings through English. They were ‘appropriating’ the language, in Bakhtin’s terms, ‘struggling’ with it, even in their own terms, as much as passively ‘learning’ it, constructing new meanings. The story offered what ecological approaches to second language teaching have called ‘affordances’, opportunities in the language learning environment, language not to be taken over uncritically, but appropriated and exploited by individual learners for their own purposes. Stylistics in Second Language Contexts , Stylistically, the concern with naming and labelling, as well as, for example, parallelisms and repetitions which Kramsch shows the students developing in order to express their own ideas better, or the creative recasting of cultural clichés on lifestyles and immigration, could be seen as stylistic interests. Elsewhere in the volume from which Kramsch’s study comes, there is much evidence of punning and other word play as central activities in many classrooms, not for their own sake, but again as a means through which students think about the new language and culture, and their place relative to it as well as their own changing identities. Again readers are urged to check for themselves, for example, Sullivan (2000), or Cook (2000) on the role of play in language learning. ‘Learning a new language is not an innocent relabelling of the familiar furniture of the universe’ (Kramsch 2000: 138), as traditional acquisition studies seemed to assume. Rather it is to figure out a new role in an ever-evolving environment.

‘Connections’ such as storytelling in response to a literary text, frequently mentioned in this and other studies of second language literature use, can be thought of as appropriations of text for new purposes by such new language-and-culture participators. The language of the source text originally studied comes to be borrowed, but also extended and modified, ‘transformed’ as stylistic understandings of linguistic creativity would have it. Quotation or other such echoing of the actual language of the text is a commonly reported classroom response to literature. On the more psycholinguistic level this is focus on form obviously, but the argument here is that it is also part of taking over the language for the learner’s own purposes, since a repetition of a piece of language is already a new instance of it. Finally Kim (2004) refers back to Boyd and Maloof, endorsing and extending those findings for her own context. Kim studied a group of nine advanced students, aged between 18 and 30, who met for two hours per day over seven weeks in a US higher education English programme (six male and three female, five Koreans, one each from Qatar, Mongolia, Venezuela and Indonesia). They read and discussed a short story and a novel, chapter by chapter, preparing for class by using a personal reading log, and responding initially in class discussions to teacher-prepared questions.


For the Conclusion Writers like Pennycook (2000) urge the inseparability of language classrooms and real life, that our learners are real people with agendas, desires, histories, antipathies and prejudices just like the rest of us, and that all these characteristics affect what is learned and how, and what the learner wants to learn. Stylistics in Second Language Contexts  One size fits all approaches cannot meet the case. Cook (2002) similarly reminds us to see the L2 user not as an inferior or failed native speaker but, again, as someone who has other aims and abilities. Stylistics in Second Language Contexts,  He feels, like Buttjes and Byram (1990), that the need in an increasingly globalized and complicated world is for intermediaries with ‘intercultural competence’ who can mediate between more limited or at least different other groups, such as the English-speaking monolingual (who arguably is a disadvantaged being, though not irremediably) or those with other linguistic and cultural competences than their own. Such intercultural workers need the kind of stylistic work examined in the classrooms instanced in my last section to be able to consider the relative meanings and uses of different languages and cultures for themselves and for others, and – in a critical perspective – how this language might be developed to better meet their own interests.

In this blog you have studied about the Stylistics in Second Language Contexts which need to be understand clearly along with Stylistics in Second Language Contexts we need to undertint what Stylists is about and how it’s important for second language context.


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