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Classrooms and "real" worlds: Boundaries, roadblocks, and connections

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Title:Classrooms and "real" worlds: Boundaries, roadblocks, and connections
Authors:Van Lier, Leo
Date Issued:01 Jan 2010
Publisher:Heinle Cengage Learning
Citation:Van Lier, L. (2010). Classrooms and "real" worlds: Boundaries, roadblocks, and connections. The American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of Foreign Languages Programs (AAUSC), 32-42.
Abstract:In this chapter, I examine the language classroom and its relations to the rest of the world.
I take an ecological approach; that is, I focus on the relationships among the various places
and situations that members of language classrooms find themselves in and how these relationships
are affected by a variety of constraining and enabling factors. In particular, I look
at three sets of issues, two of them (named boundaries and roadblocks) constraining and
the third (named connections) enabling. The chapter discusses ways in which the various
issues raised have been and can be researched and reviews key theories and approaches,
including the tension between micro- and macroperspectives and emic and etic perspectives.
Questions addressed include the following: How do classrooms turn out the way that
they do, and in what ways are they shaped by society or by their inhabitants? What are the
factors that promote or limit connections between social ecosystems such as the family, the
peer group, and the social/institutional ecosystem of the classroom? The sketch provided
here is a very partial one, but in the last part of the chapter, some suggestions are offered
that can make the classroom into a learning space that may forge connections between
learning and the rest of the students’ lives.

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