A Critique of Some Common Assumptions

in German Work on Language And Education

Dr Winifred V Davies,

Dept of European Languages, UWA, Aberystwyth

Ceredigion, SY23 3DY, Wales.

Tel: 01970-622557; Fax:  01970-622553; e-mail: wid@aber.ac.uk

This paper provides a critique of some common assumptions that seem to underlie much writing in the field of language and education (‘Dialektdidaktik’) in Germany.  The issues that will be examined are

·         the discourse of regional non-standard dialect as a ‘problem’;

·         the uncritical assumption that standard German is necessary for supraregional comprehension without questioning the basis of comprehension (linguistic vs extra-linguistic factors);

·         whether the stress on ‘appropriateness’ rather than ‘correctness’ is actually a step towards a more critical approach to the study of linguistic diversity, e.g. to the present domain distribution of standard and non-standard varieties of German.  Are issues of power and domination being ignored?

·         the links between speech and writing (is it really so much easier for non-dialect speakers to produce mistake-free written texts?);

·         what should a truly emancipatory education look like?

The texts to be analysed are articles by academics working in the field of language and education, and school curricula. On the basis of these texts, I shall show that much remains to be done to encourage a truly critical approach to linguistic diversity in the classroom.