The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Learning German: a Foucauldian Analysis of the Objectivizing of the Subject Through Language

Stephen Hare, Madeline Symonds Middle School (Halifax Regional Centre for Education) (Canada)


This paper will look at second language acquisition through the philosophical prism of the learner as a subject undergoing conceptualization. I will base this primarily on Foucault’s paper “The Subject and the Power” [1]. The two modes of Foucauldian investigation will be the objectification of the subject through Linguistics, as well as the “dividing practices” where the subject becomes divided within. The examples I give will be based on my intensive immersion experience of learning German the past year. How has my narrative consciousness changed through the absorption of the German syntax? What were the forms of resistance that my English and French syntax posed to the power of immersion within Munich?  As a teacher of French as a second language, the conclusions I draw will be informed from my own experience as a teacher, and now as a student once again. This paper will be of interest to teachers of foreign languages as well as any educator or academic looking to see how Foucauldian analysis can be of use in seeing their own practice from the student’s perspective.

Keywords conceptualizing, Foucault, German, language-learning, subject

References [1]Foucault, Michel. “The Subject and Power.” Critical Inquiry 8, no. 4 (1982): 777–95.

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