As I approach age 63 and the final part of my career, I feel as if part of my unfinished business is to read, or reread, the most salient research out in the SLA and Applied Linguistics worlds and then figure out how it applies to our learners at FrenchRev. I am now in the middle of Bonnie Norton’s and Kelleen Toohey’s 2011 article titled “Identity, language learning, and social change” in the journal Language Learning (CUP). Many may be a little surprised from the title that there are researchers in language learning who actually put a primacy on social change within a sphere of work that has traditionally been devoid of such concerns.

I cannot very well give full critiques of the research I’ll be reading. A blog is perhaps not the place for that, especially this one. But I hope to bring forth some of the highlights from these articles with the goal to give us all some additional tools to understand what the concept of healthy practices could look like when it comes to language learning. 

I say this, then, with the fullest implication that sometimes language learning is not healthy, and this is a point that Norton and Toohey also imply in their work. Sometimes language learning might even carry with it an ugly underbelly that needs reform. So first article up, with a big nod of respect to BLM, will be Norton and Toohey’s “Identity, language learning, and social change.”