ArticlesVol. 15, No. 1 (2015)

Intentional Dynamics in TESOL: An Ecological Perspective

Juup Stelma1,

Zeynep Onat-Stelma1,

Woojoo Lee2,

Achilleas Kostoulas1

1 Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester,
2 Department of English, Dongyang University


This paper presents an ecological perspective on meaning-making, conceptualised as developing intentionality and exemplified with reference to three international TESOL settings. The paper draws on philosophical and folk-psychological perspectives on intentionality, including Searle’s (1983) distinction between intrinsic (individual) and derived (social) forms of intentionality and Young, DePalma and Garrett’s (2002) modelling of intentional dynamics in educational settings. The paper illustrates the analytical affordances of the perspective through sample analyses of intentional dynamics found in three international TESOL settings. This includes: (i) young learners’ interpretations of love and marriage in a joint writing task in a Norwegian primary L2 classroom, (ii) a Turkish teacher’s first experience of teaching English to young learners, and (iii) the impact of the English as the global language phenomenon on the teaching of English to young learners in South Korea. The paper concludes that explorations of intentional dynamics on different levels of language education activities can enhance our ecological understanding of the cognitive, social and political dimensions of TESOL.