The definition of context and its implications for language teaching
The notion of context has come to the fore in recent years both in the study and teaching of language. Despite the oveniding importance attached to the concept and the number and variety of definitions provided, the lack of a comprehensive and workable definition based on systematic analysis has become increasingly apparent. The present thesis intends to clear up the confusion that surrounds the concept. Its main contribution is a theoretical framework of two distinct perspectives on context, which emerges as a result of the scrutiny of numerous definitions available in language study. The framework is then applied to the investigation and categorisation of interpretations of context offered by various theories in linguistics. The pedagogic implementation of the framework aims to identifY which conception of context has informed a particular language teaching development. Once that has been established, it is examined how the application of one or the other perspective determines the constitution and characteristics of various trends in language pedagogy. It is demonstrated that a clear understanding of the type of context model adopted by different language teaching practices can reveal the incongruent nature of approaches and methods commonly described as communicative. As a corollary, more recent developments attempting to broaden the scope of the communicative movement are also explored.