Felix dubitatio!

Uncertainty and complexity in didactics of languages and cultures

Felix dubitatio! Uncertainty and complexity in didactics of languages and cultures
English translation of "Felix dubitatio ! Incertitude et complexité en didactique des langues-cultures". EDL. Études en Didactique des Langues, n° 37 "L'incertitude / Uncertainty"), MAY 2021, pp. 51-68.
Document Adobe Acrobat 307.3 KB



The complexity of the objects and processes that are constitutive of the didactics of languages and cultures, as well as the diversity and heterogeneity of learners, structurally confront the teachers with complexity, and therefore with uncertainty. This is the reason why most teachers have always implemented an empirical eclecticism in their classrooms, instead of the necessarily simplifying coherence of all the constituted methodologies that their institutions often want to impose upon them. It is for the same reason that the discipline, when it finally took this complexity into account, had to add to its first “methodological” perspective, first the “didactic” (or meta-methodological) perspective in the early 1970s, and then the “didactological” (or meta-didactic) perspective, from the early 1980s. This historical evolution of the discipline came up against, and continues to come up against, three forms of reductionism: theoretical, technological and practical applicationism; the second, reactivated by the emergence of digital technologies, has recently been reinforced by the intensive use of these technologies to ensure the so-called “pedagogical continuity”. This article proposes what the author calls, alluding to the current pandemic, “some off-patent components of the anti-certainty vaccine”: teacher training in the epistemology of the discipline, “learner-centeredness” and the “project approach”. The author concludes with the idea that since the language classroom is a place and a time for collective learning in a complex environment, it can function as an “incubator” for the skills now required in a professional world that is also confronted with complexity and uncertainty.


Keywords: didactics of languages and cultures; uncertainty; complexity; epistemology; history; eclecticism; applicationism.