Sociolinguistics in Berlin

3 September 2012

Multilingual Matters stand at SS19

Tommi and I have just returned from the Sociolinguistics Symposium 19 in Berlin. It was a very successful conference and has grown to over 1000 delegates this year. However, despite being larger than ever before it is still a very friendly conference with a lot of familiar faces and it’s always nice to meet up with our authors and editors. This year we had so many titles on display that we could barely fit them all in despite having 3 tables!

The organisers from the Freie Universität Berlin were incredibly helpful and friendly and made it a very enjoyable conference. We took a lot of pleasure in sampling the local cuisine in Berlin and we particularly enjoyed tucking into the delicious German cakes in the coffee breaks at the conference.

The AquaDom in our hotel complete with scuba diver

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin which is situated right on the river Spree and we ate our breakfast every morning with a beautiful view of the Berliner Dom across the river. The other main attraction of our hotel was the incredible AquaDom which is the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium and contains one million litres of saltwater. The aquarium is 25 metres tall and rises up from the foyer of the hotel to the sixth floor. We spent a lot of time gazing at the fish and watching people in scuba gear cleaning the inside of the aquarium!

Tommi celebrated his birthday while we were in Berlin and after the conference had finished for the day we headed to the Tiergarten for food and drinks in a beer garden with our fellow publishers from Mouton DeGruyter and John Benjamins. Unfortunately as soon as we sat down with our pizza and beer it started to pour with rain so we had to run under cover to stay dry! However, we then headed to a cocktail bar to keep dry so it wasn’t a complete disaster!

Our view of the Berliner Dom at breakfast time

We were lucky to have the opportunity to have dinner with two of our authors while we were in Berlin too. On Thursday evening we went out for dinner with Nancy Hornberger and Terri McCarty. It is really nice to socialise with authors away from the conference when we are not distracted by selling books and can have a proper conversation. We went to a restaurant called Dressler on Unter den Linden and had a lovely evening sitting outside eating, drinking and chatting.

In 2014 the Sociolinguistics Symposium will take place in Jyväskylä, Finland and we are already looking forward to it and planning our trip!

The Ton Vallen Award

9 March 2012

We are honoured to announce our support for the Ton Vallen award set up by Tilburg University. This award will be given to the author of an article on sociolinguistic and educational issues in multicultural societies which was published in a journal in 2011. Authors must have obtained their PhD within the last 5 years and must submit their article by 1 July 2012, with the winner to be announced in September 2012. The winner will receive Multilingual Matters books as a prize.

The award was set up in memory of Ton Vallen who was Professor of Multilingualism and Education at Tilburg University. Vallen, who sadly died in 2011, was dedicated to the study of the complex issues of language in education in a society increasingly characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity and this award aims to honour his life and scholarship.

This award intends to advance research in this field and to encourage young postdoctoral researchers who often struggle to gain recognition and career opportunities. The award committee is made up of Jan Blommaert (chair), Guus ExtraSjaak KroonAd BackusJeanne KurversNancy Hornberger and Jens-Normann Jörgensen.

For further details please see the website:

An Interview with Nancy Hornberger

14 March 2011

I know all about what Nancy Hornberger has been up to on behalf on Multilingual Matters recently. The series she co-edits with Colin Baker has 6 books coming out this year, including a new edition of Foundations and a brand new book edited by Anwei Feng on English language education in China. We also published Nancy’s co-edited book with Sandra Lee McKay, Sociolinguistics and Language Education, last year.  But what does Nancy get up to when she’s not working hard for us?

How did you first become interested in multilingualism?

I can trace it to growing up in northern California with lots of Spanish-speaking heritage all around, and in a family that was always welcoming of international visitors.  I had a fantastic fifth grade teacher who voluntarily and innovatively taught Spanish before-school to a small group of us fifth-graders.  There were lots more steps along the way, including studying three languages in high school, hosting and being an exchange student with a family in Rio de Janeiro I’m still close to, passage of the Bilingual Education Act while I was in college and my ensuing pursuit of a master’s specializing in bilingual education, studying Quechua and living and working with Steve in Peru for most of the 1970s before beginning my PhD studies in 1980.

Were there any books or scholars that particularly inspired you when you were starting out?

Definitely – Hymes and Fishman were – and still are – extremely inspiring authors for me.  There are many more, too numerous to mention here, but at least some of them will be included in the set of readers on Critical Concepts in Educational Linguistics I’m working on for Routledge.

Are there any recent books that you’ve found especially interesting?

I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend Blackledge & Creese’s Multilingualism (2010) and Blommaert’s Sociolinguistics of Globalization (2010).  Both are theoretically and empirically rich, and solidly grounded in multi-year ethnographic research.

What are you working on at the moment?

Editing Anthropology and Education Quarterly keeps me pretty busy. I’m also finishing up the Critical Concepts in Educational Linguistics readers.  And trying to write up some of my recent comparative work on multilingual language policies, including several weeks last summer consulting with colleagues at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on implementing South Africa’s multilingual language policy in higher education.  Then again, my responsibilities at Penn in Educational Linguistics and the Ethnography in Education Research Forum keep me busiest of all.

It’s clear from Educational Linguistics in Practice that your students are very important to you. What advice would you (do you!) give to someone embarking on a phd in 2011?

Courage and fortitude!  It’s a rewarding and exciting line of work and a noble calling to pursue free intellectual inquiry in an increasingly constrained higher education environment.  One huge source of inspiration for me all along the way has been the amazing generosity of scholars in this field, and I hope that future generations will be able to experience the same from those of us who go before.

You’ve travelled all over the world in the course of your research: is there anywhere you’d like to work that you haven’t got round to yet?

Lots of places! I’ve never visited Korea, though I’ve taught many a Korean student.   Indonesia, Czech Republic, Finland are other places I’d love to visit and work in, but there are plenty more I’ve probably never even thought of.

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?

Hanging out with my wonderful family, including two little granddaughters (and we hope more on the way).  Also singing and being out-of-doors.

What do you think you might have done if you hadn’t pursued a career in academia?

Bilingual teacher?  Missionary?  Singer?  As I look back, I am most of all grateful that I stumbled onto this career path – unlike some, I did not set out purposefully to get a Ph.D. and become a professor, but I’m very glad things turned out that way.

Celebrating Nancy Hornberger

9 March 2011

All of our authors and editors are special to us, but those that we work with over a long period of time become ‘part of the family’. One of these people is Nancy Hornberger, who has been co-editing our Bilingual Education and Bilingualism series since 1996. She has also published several books with us herself, including Sociolinguistics and Language Education, which was published last year. We were delighted when Francis Hult and Kendall King approached us with the idea of publishing a book to mark Nancy’s 60th birthday, as not only do we like Nancy a lot, but we’ve also published several of her former students who appear as contributors in the book. We’ll be celebrating Nancy’s work as part of the opening reception at AAAL, so do come along and say ‘hi’ if you’re there.

Francis and Kendall’s book is published this week, and so I asked them to tell me a bit about what Nancy has contributed to the study of language and education, as well as her influence on the lives and careers of her students…

‘We are delighted to be a part of celebrating Nancy Hornberger’s 60th birthday. To mark the occasion we  have collaborated with Multilingual Matters and Nancy’s colleagues and former students to publish Educational Linguistics in Practice: Applying the Local Globally and the Global Locally. For more than twenty-five years, Nancy has been a leader in educational linguistics, setting the pace while inspiring others to engage in research and practice that promotes linguistic diversity in education. The book is dedicated to her, and to her scholarship.
Nancy Hornberger joined the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (PennGSE) in 1985 as an assistant professor. Her scholarship, mentoring, teaching and consulting since then have been characterized by ‘working the local globally and the global locally,’ as she herself put it in a 2006 pro-seminar at Penn in which she discussed her work in Bolivia, Paraguay, Singapore, and South Africa.  This perspective is the inspiration for the present volume honoring Nancy Hornberger’s contributions to educational linguistics. Beginning with her linguistic and educational work in Peru, where she studied relationships between Indigenous language education practices and bilingual education policy, Hornberger set the tone for educational linguistics research that is global in its perspective yet locally grounded in both educational practice and the close analysis of language use.
This constant is evident in her consulting and research, which has taken her around the world to Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Singapore, and South Africa, among other locales, but also around the corner to schools and communities in the city of Philadelphia. For example, she has brought new insights to teacher training at institutions such as the Department of Linguistics at the University of Natal in South Africa; the Instituto de Estudos de Linguagem at the Universidad Estadual de Campinas in Brazil; the Andean Linguistics Program at the Colegio Andino in Peru; the Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Bolivia; and the National Institute of Education in Singapore as well as the School District of Philadelphia.  Always wary of the expert’s mantle, Hornberger rarely seeks to offer her own solutions to local issues, but rather strives to help educators develop the ‘means to solve their own problems,’ as she explained in her 2006 pro-seminar.
Hornberger has inspired a long of line scholars to follow her example, not least her many doctoral students.  In her 25 years at Penn, she has supervised over forty-five dissertations and served as a committee member on numerous others.  Her students continue the tradition of problem-oriented language research with a global perspective, working in countries such as Botswana, Britain, Ecuador, Eritrea, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden, and Turkey as well as with many linguistic minority communities in the United States. This volume illustrates the impact that Hornberger’s work has had on the field of educational linguistics as the authors – all of whom are her former students or close colleagues – strive to work ‘the local globally and the global locally’ in their research ‘on (the role of) language (in) learning and teaching’ (Hornberger, 2001: 19).
We feel very lucky to have been part of this group, as we have both benefitted tremendously in our own academic careers from Nancy Hornberger’s careful guidance. We continue to be inspired by her dedication as we mentor our own students and develop our own lines of research.  Working together on this volume in tribute to Hornberger has very much been, for both of us, a productive and enriching experience.
Since she first took the stage as a junior scholar, Hornberger has continued to be a strong voice in the field, as a soloist and as a member of the choir.  It is our hope that this volume will serve both as a tribute to Hornberger’s legacy and as a point of departure for the lyrics yet to be written about the topical, theoretical, and methodological issues that continue to resonate in educational linguistics across the globe.  Long may the songs of equity, access and multilingual education be heard!’

Francis Hult and Kendall King


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