Affordances theory in multilingualism studies

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Larissa Aronin
David Singleton

Abstract

The concept of affordances originating in Gibson’s work (Gibson, 1977) is gaining ground in multilingualism studies (cf. Aronin and Singleton, 2010; Singleton and Aronin, 2007; Dewaele, 2010). Nevertheless, studies investigating affordances in respect of teaching, learning or using languages are still somewhat rare and tend to treat isolated aspects of multilingualism. This is despite the fact that the theory of affordances can actually provide a valuable, supplementary, up-to-date framework within which a clearer, sharper description and explication of the intriguing range of attributes of multilingual communities, educational institutions and individuals, as well as teaching practices, become feasible. It is important that not only researchers and practitioners (teachers, educators, parents, community and political actors) but also language users and learners themselves should be aware of how to identify or, if necessary, design new affordances for language acquisition and learning. The aim of this article is to adapt the concept of affordances to multilingualism studies and additional language teaching, and in so doing advance theoretical understanding in this context. To this end the article contains a brief summary of the findings so far available. The article also goes further into defining the ways of how affordances work in relation to multilingualism and second language teaching and puts forward an integrated model of affordances.

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Author Biographies

Larissa Aronin, Oranim Academic College of Education, Tivon, Israel Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

larisa@research.haifa.ac.ilLarissa Aronin is Professor at the Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel and is a research associate at Trinity College, Dublin. She has published on a wide array of topics connected with multilingualism in a range of international journals such as International Journal of the Sociology of Language, International Journal of Multilingualism, and Language Teaching. She contributed to The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) and coedited The Exploration of Multilingualism: Development of Research on L3, Multilingualism and Multiple Language Acquisition (John Benjamins, 2009) and Multilingualism (John Benjamins, 2012). She serves as a secretary of the International Association of Multilingualism, and is an Editorial Board member of International Journal of Multilingualism (Taylor and Francis) and Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching (Adam Mickiewicz University), and an Advisory Board member of Language Teaching (Cambridge University Press).

David Singleton, Trinity College, Dublin

singleton.centicepts@gmail.com

David Singleton took his BA at Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland, and his PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK. He is a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, where he is Professor of Applied Linguistics, and where he has spent a considerable amount of time on the University Council and the College Board. He also holds the title of Research Professor at the University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary. He has served as President of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, as Secretary General of the International Association of Applied Linguistics and as President of the European Second Language Association. His publications number close to 200, his books and articles ranging across a wide spectrum of topics, including syllabus design and pedagogical grammar, but focusing mainly on cross-linguistic influence, the second language lexicon, the age factor in language acquisition and multilingualism.

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