Meet the Speakers: Scott Thornbury (Plenary 1)

29/12/2018 - 13:36

Room 313


Plenary 1

Is 'language' a countable noun?

Scott Thornbury

We take it for granted that there is language (the human capacity for verbal communication) and that there are languages (specific forms of this capacity tied to a particular locality, social group or race, such as Japanese, Swahili, Latin etc). But how do you separate (uncountable) language into (countable) languages? Where do you draw the lines? Who decides? These questions may seem academic, but in fact they have an important bearing on the way we define, describe and prescribe English – among other languages. In this talk I will problematize the notion of language, and argue that many of the decisions that we take for granted (e.g. what to teach, what to correct, what language to use in the classroom) have strong ideological underpinnings.

Scott Thornbury’s Bio

Plenary Speaker


Scott is a teacher and teacher educator, with over 30 years’ experience in English language teaching, and an MA from the University of Reading. His previous experience includes teaching and teacher training in Egypt, UK, Spain (where he lives), and in his native New Zealand. His writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology, as well as authoring a number of papers and book chapters on language and language teaching. He is the series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Teachers (CUP). He was also the co-founder of the dogmeELT group.

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