Converging the Curriculum Designer’s Intentions into a Foreign Language Classroom


  • Nobue Tanaka-Ellis Tokai University



Actor-Network Theory, Curriculum Design, Japanese Undergraduate Students, Learning Environment


In any educational institutions, designing curricula would be one of the most important processes for educating students with coherence and efficiency. They are also tools for institutions to make their teaching philosophy visible to their students and teachers. This research analyses how a foreign language class was constructed from two different perspectives: 1) how the curriculum shaped the class under study (macro-level analysis); and 2) how the environment formed the class (micro-level analysis). This study can be considered as a sequel to my previous study that looked at differences in on-task behaviour in two compulsory English classes for Japanese undergraduate students, taught in different environments: a regular classroom and a computer room. The result showed that the environmental differences altered their learning behaviour. Leading on from the previous study, this study investigated why there were differences in learning behaviour and how these differences emerged by looking at the teachers and their students’ interpretations of the curriculum. The study used a new analytical tool in the field of language education, Actor-Network Theory, for analysing the influence that the human and nonhuman (i.e., computers, syllabus) actors had in between. These actors were mapped to visualise the actions caused by the influence to capture how the course was designed and executed. The maps revealed that the curriculum was altered by the teacher and the students, mainly due to the environment they were in. The paper concludes with some suggestions to improve the relationship between the curriculum and its stakeholders.

Author Biography

  • Nobue Tanaka-Ellis, Tokai University
    Lecturer International Education Center English Language Section Tokai University


Barab, S., Hay, K. E., & Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2001). Constructing networks of action-relevant episodes: An in situ research methodology. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(1& 2), 63-112.

Bygate, M., Norris, J. and van den Branden, K. 2015. Task-Based Language Teaching. The Encyclopaedia of Applied Linguistics. 1–8.

Callon, M. (1986). Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of Saint Brieuc Bay. In J. Law (Ed.) Power, Action and Belief: a new Sociology of Knowledge? Sociological Review Monograph (pp. 196-233). London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Dupuy, B. C. (2000). Content-based instruction: Can it help ease the transition from beginning to advanced foreign language classes? Foreign Language Annals, 33(2), 205-223.

Edwards, R. (2012). Translation the prescribed into the enacted curriculum in college and school. In T. Fenwick & R. Edwards (Eds.) Researching Education through Actor-Network Theory (pp. 23-39). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ellis, N. T. (2012). Actor-network theory as an analytical tool for capturing student activities in two different class environments. In C. Conlan (Ed.) Proceedings of Applied Linguistics Association of Australia Annual Conference 2012 (pp. 181-205). Perth, Australia

Ellis, R. (2000). Task-based research and language pedagogy. Language Teaching Research, 4(3), 193-220.

Ellis, R. (2003). Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fenwick, T. & Edward, R. (2010). Actor-Network Theory in Education. Routledge: London.

Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R. (2012). Researching Education through Actor-Network Theory. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hulstijn, J. H. (2012). Incidental Learning in Second Language Acquisition. The Encyclopaedia of Applied Linguistics.

Kramsch, C. (2003). Language Acquisition and Language Socialization: Ecological Perspectives. London: Continuum.

Latour, B. (1993). We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Latour, Bruno (1996). Aramis, or the love of technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Latour, B. (2004). Politics of Nature, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Laufer, B. & Rozovski-Roitblat, B. (2011). Incidental vocabulary acquisition: The effects of task type, word occurrence and their combination. Language Teaching Research, 15(4), 341-411.

Law, J. (1991). A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination. London: Routledge.

Leather, J. & van Dam, J. (2003). Ecology of Language Acquisition. Dorhrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Lyster, R. & Ballinger, S. (2011). Content-based language teaching: Convergent concerns across divergent contexts. Language Teaching Research, 15(3), 279-288.

Marsh, D. & Martin, M. J. F. (2013). Content and language integrated learning. The Encyclopaedia of Applied Linguistics. 1–8.

McLean, C. & Hassard, J. (2004) Symmetrical Absence / Symmetrical Absurdity: Critical Notes on the Production of Actor-Network Accounts, Journal of Management Studies, 41(3), 493-519.

Meskill, C. (2005). Triadic scaffolds: Tools for teaching English language learners with computers. Language Learning and Technology, 9(1), 46-59.

Pessoa, S., Hendry, H., Donato, R., Tucker, G. R., & Lee, H. (2007). Content-based instruction in the foreign language classroom: A discourse perspective. Foreign Language Annals, 40(1), 102-121.

Roth, W.-M. (1996). Knowledge diffusion in a grade 4-5 classroom during a unit on civil engineering: an analysis of a classroom community in terms of its changing resources and practices. Cognition and Instruction, 14(2), 179-220.

Shintani, N. & Ellis, R. (2014). Tracking ‘learning behaviours’ in the incidental acquisition of two dimensional adjectives by Japanese beginner learners of L2 English. Language Teaching Research, 18(4), 521-542.

Skehan, P. (1996). A Framework for the implementation of task-based instruction. Applied Linguistics, 17(1), 38-62.

van Lier, L. (2003). An ecological-semiotic perspective on language and linguistics. In C. Kramsch (Ed.) Language Acquisition and Language Socialization: Ecological Perspectives. London: Continuum.

van Lier, L. (2004). The Ecology and Semiotics of Language Learning: A Sociocultural Perspective. Dorhrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.







Similar Articles

1-10 of 414

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.