Learning 2.0

December 5, 2007: Doing not being a foreign language learner: Working in English as a ‘lingua franca’ (Dr. Alan Firth)

invited lecture by Dr Alan FIRTH

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Communication & Language Sciences,Newcastle University (UK)

Wednesday, December 5th,

Campus Walferdange, 17.30 h – room Vygotsky


In his invited lecture Alan Firth will introduce, exemplify and discuss the notion that L2 competence may be profitably understood as a ‘public’ or ‘private’ phenomenon. Through data analyses of L2 learning and L2 use in instructional, quasi-instructional and non-instructional settings, he will show how L2 users differentially orient to and construct the public, quasi-public and private status of learning and using an L2. Firth argues that this ‘public-private’ conception of L2 competence has important implications for the way L2 is learned and used in context. We see that L2 users orient to and make relevant this public-private distinction – in the artful and complex ways the L2 as an object, along with its associated competences, are either brought to the surface of the interaction (as is typical in L2 classrooms) or, in other contexts (e.g. the workplace), are concealed and thus rendered ‘private’. In examining these various manifestations of the openness of L2 competence, we see how L2 users construct diverse identity categories – both for themselves and their interlocutors. In all cases, however, we can observe that ‘learning’ is taking place; but taking place in ways that are in accordance with the ‘public’ and ‘private’ status of L2 competence.

The presentation ends with a discussion of the implications of this public/private view of competence for SLA and L2 studies more generally.


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