This month we published Immersion Education by Pádraig Ó Duibhir, which examines the success of young immersion learners of Irish in becoming competent speakers of the minority language. In this post the author explains why further efforts need to be made to promote the wider use of Irish outside Irish-medium education.
We devote a great deal of time and effort in second language teaching to ensure that learners reach the highest level of competence possible in the second language. Sometimes, however, competence is not enough, as in the case of Irish, a minority language in contact with English – one of the world’s major languages.
I have spent most of my career either teaching or researching Irish-medium education. In general, students who graduate from Irish-medium schools have developed excellent oral communication skills in Irish despite some grammatical inaccuracies. One might expect these young adults to contribute to the wider use of Irish in society. Unfortunately, this is not always the case despite government policy in this area. While some do use more Irish than their counterparts who went to English-medium schools, the level of use is disappointing.
As a parent who raised three children, now in their late 20s, through the medium of Irish, I can attest to the lack of opportunities to use the language outside the home and school contexts. None of my adult children work in a job that brings them into contact with Irish and apart from their communication with me, they have very few opportunities to speak Irish. When the children were younger, they attended Irish-medium schools. When their friends from school visited our house, however, I was always struck by the fact that their conversation was in English. If I engaged them in conversation they would happily speak Irish to me but return to conversing in English once I had left. Speaking Irish to me appeared to be normal, perhaps because they saw me as an authority figure or knew that Irish was the language of our home. But speaking Irish among themselves outside of school was not normal.
So much of the Irish government’s efforts to promote the wider use of Irish are invested in the education system. We know from experience, however, that transferring minority language learning from school to society is extremely difficult. How then might we create safe spaces where it is normal to speak Irish? Could we build Irish-speaking networks around Irish-medium schools? What can we learn from other minority language contexts? The advent of pop-up Gaeltachtaí or Irish-speaking social events is a very positive development. How might we capitalise on and expand this concept where participants have a clear desire to speak Irish? In the absence of greater opportunities and a desire to speak Irish, competence alone is not enough.
For more information about this book please see our website.
Most of our bookshop sales are via specialist stores and campus bookshops, where an interested reader is most likely to be browsing. We have always managed these accounts in-house, by sending out catalogues, information sheets and book information to the relevant buyers, and they have mostly ticked along without a great deal of internal involvement. High street book sales are rare as very few of our titles would be picked off the shelves by a casual shopper.
This summer we are publishing Speaking Up by Allyson Jule which is a book about language and gender that has mainstream audience unlike most of our publications which are aimed solely at academic researchers. To reach this audience, we need to ensure that the book gets visibility outside of the academic book trade. It is clear that we would not realise the book’s full market potential if we followed our standard marketing and sales procedures for our academic titles. So, from a marketing perspective, we have enlisted the services of an external PR consultant whose experience will get coverage for the book that might not have been possible by our own efforts alone. From a sales perspective, it is obvious that bookshop presence will be key.
This sparked a discussion about whether it would be sensible for us to take on the services of an external sales force, not just for this title but for all our books. This is something that we do in territories abroad, but we have always managed local relationships ourselves. Making the decision about whether to start such a partnership was not an easy one. Obviously, there are costs involved and the work of the reps needs to bring in enough extra sales to cover the expense of working with them. We had to assess whether there was enough of a market out there that we aren’t able to reach ourselves and if we are better outsourcing efforts to target this market rather than trying to reach the readers ourselves.
On balance we felt that there is more scope for bookshop sales for our books in the UK, especially for books such as those we publish on bilingualism for parents and teachers, and that the benefits had the potential to far outweigh the arguments against. As such, we are excited to now be working with Compass Academic and to make the most of their expertise and experience in the book trade.
Compass Academic is a team of book reps who call on bookshops, library suppliers, wholesalers and internet booksellers, and maintain relationships with all the key bookselling chains. They will now be taking information about our books to their meetings and will be actively promoting them to both existing and new customers on our behalf. The team will be covering a far broader range of booksellers than we could ever manage ourselves and have longstanding relationships with many of their contacts.
Just as importantly as presenting information about our books to booksellers, Compass will also give us regular market feedback on what is happening in the UK trade market in general and news from specific booksellers. This valuable information will help us better plan our publishing program and respond to developments in the industry.
The publication of Speaking Up was certainly the spark that made us take the leap but we are hopeful that the new partnership will benefit all our publications, across both our imprints.
This new book of mine deals with an issue that has been a concern of mine for many years – namely, learning the niceties of pragmatics from native and nonnative teachers of the language. Pragmatic subtleties include knowing just when to use specific greetings in the target language, knowing how to recognize sarcasm when it is directed at you and how to be appropriately sarcastic yourself, knowing how to curse when it is called for, knowing how to make requests in a way that it is well received, and many more things.
At the age of 74, I am currently working on my 13th language, Mandarin, and over the years I have had an opportunity to experience the benefits of learning the language both from teachers who have grown up natively with the language and its pragmatics as well as those who have come to it later on as learners themselves. Clearly, both sets of teachers could have special advantages in terms of what they know about the target language and what they can provide learners. In the book, I invite readers to explore with me this issue, basing many of my insights on an international survey I conducted using Survey Monkey.
Aside from reporting the findings from an international survey about how teachers handle pragmatics, the book also includes sections on:
defining target language pragmatics,
suggestions for how to teach pragmatics,
motivating learners to want to learn about pragmatics,
the role of technology,
learners’ strategizing about pragmatics,
ways to research pragmatics.
By studying many languages and living in different cultures around the world, I have become acutely aware of just how easy it is to experience pragmatic failure while engaged in efforts to communicate with others. Below is a picture of me as a Peace Corps volunteer on the High Plains of Bolivia where I had modest success at learning the local language, Aymara, and at practicing rural community development in the mid-1960s. As you can see, I am wearing a local poncho and gorro. This two-year experience kick-started my interest in applied linguistics and provided me an upfront and personal experience attempting to contribute to an indigenous group who mostly wondered why a young American college graduate would do such a thing.
Andrew D. Cohen, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, USA email@example.com
In February this year Callum joined the Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters team as our new publishing intern. In this post we find out a bit more about him and his work in the world of books and publishing.
What were you doing before you joined us?
I was working as a bookseller for Foyles and as assistant editor for The Cardiff Review, both of which I’m still doing.
Have you always wanted to work in the world of books?
I suppose so, though as a younger teenager I didn’t really read. When I was very young I had visions of being an author which was, I think, just because I didn’t like doing anything much that involved going outside, and to me an author’s life was probably spent indoors, at home, doodling or something similarly inactive. Between the ages of 10 and maybe 16/17 I wasn’t interested in reading at all and only began to come back to books in sixth form and at university (which is lucky, because I was studying English Literature). Since then I figured I may as well play to my strengths, which seem to be in books. So that led to bookselling more than once, working with The Cardiff Review, and now working with Channel View.
What attracted you to the internship initially?
A paid internship is (unfortunately) a rather rare thing. An internship in publishing based outside London is even rarer. I had been looking for experience in publishing for a little while but, like many people, it’s not always the easiest path to follow, short of uprooting your life to relocate and take a hit on your savings. So finding the position at Channel View was a stroke of luck. Also, I think it’s a credit to Channel View that they do run paid internships, when many much larger publishers who I won’t name do not pay their interns. I also liked the idea of working for a small independent business, because it tends to be a more friendly and flexible environment – which has turned out to be the case. Plus I’ll take any excuse to stay in Bristol.
Is publishing what you expected? Are there any surprises?
It actually is pretty much what I expected. Though ideas I had of publishing were usually based on my familiarity with trade publishing, which is obviously a whole different can of worms. Seeing things from the other side of the supply chain in some ways felt like peering behind the curtain. But most of the surprises came from the differences between trade and academic. For example, I had a decent knowledge of the way proofs and advanced reading copies work (from asking publishers for them many times…) but it hadn’t occurred to me that inspection copies would be such a large part of promoting academic books, though it seems obvious now.
Print books or ebooks? What are you reading at the moment?
Print books, obviously. I have nothing against ebooks but I am a bit of a materialist at heart. Print books are just nice objects and if nothing else a good kind of furnishing for a flat. Even when I was studying in Canada I ended up just throwing away clothes so that I could bring books back on the flight. Naomi Klein’s door-stop of a book This Changes Everything singlehandedly put my bag several pounds over the limit, so that sat on my lap throughout the flight. Though I do wish I had an e-reader specifically for magazines and journals because I don’t really feel the same way about them as objects to collect and they build up rather quickly.
Right now I’m reading a book called My Documents by the Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra. It’s a short story collection published by Fitzcarraldo, who are an amazing publisher that I have a lot of admiration for. I have been putting off reading this one for a while after being recommended it but since I picked it up two days ago I haven’t been able to stop reading it. I’m also reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, but that’s going a little more slowly, as it’s quite big and rather dense – but I’m enjoying it. And I also read a couple of monthly comics such as Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
Do you have a favourite book?
I don’t really like to choose but I adore Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin, and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. The best book I’ve read so far this year is probably The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
Somehow days off always turn into work days anyway, which is maybe how I like it, since I keep doing it. I end up working through things for The Cardiff Review or trying to work on other projects or practise with the band I play in. If I’ve got nothing on then reading in the morning and spending the afternoon cooking something or other – nothing exciting. I also spend a lot of time at gigs, but you don’t need a day off to do that. Usually days off involve a lot of coffee.
One of the intriguing things I keep hearing from people who are active on social media is that they use an alias there, because the use of their real name would prevent them from ‘being myself’. This always triggers a critical question from me: isn’t your real name part of your core identity? And how can you really be yourself when you avoid using that absolute and primary identity label of yours – your real name?
While the point might seem trivial to some, it is quite a challenge to widespread perceptions of what it is to be ‘real’. In his classic Seeing Like a State, James Scott explained at great length how important the use of fixed and structured personal names was for the emerging nation-states of Modernity. The names we got (often somewhere in the 18th-19th century) became the alpha and omega of the bureaucratic system of governance: when a name could be conclusively stuck on an individual, that individual was ‘known’ and could be treated as a subject with rights, entitlements, duties and obligations derived from bureaucratically administered laws and rules. We carry our names, consequently, on a range of identity documents: passport, social security or health insurance card, driver’s licence, staff card, library card, and so forth; we write and read our names on the top of thousands of official documents that regulate our everyday lives. Why? Because our names identify us as real, as really existing persons that can be identified, held responsible, involved or excluded from social and political processes. In view of that, avoiding using your real name, hiding it from others or giving a false name when asked for it, is strongly associated with deviance, abnormality, transgression and crime.
On social media, however, the practice is widespread. Very large numbers of otherwise decent and upstanding citizens operate ‘undercover’, if you wish, hiding behind the mask of a bogus name and arguing that it is this mask that enables them to be ‘real’ in interactions with others on social media. It shows us how different the rules and codes of social media interaction are, and how these technologies have shaped a different area of social action operating alongside those of the ‘real’ world of nation-state bureaucratic and social life.
The people I know and had the occasion to talk to about this practice argued that an alias grants them a modicum of freedom of speech on social media. In that sense, it offered them some degree of freedom to speak freely, without the obstacles and restrictions generated by offline life. Their real names, as said above, connect them to the rights and entitlements, but also the restrictions of offline existence, and such restrictions might be compelling. Their employers, for instance, might not be amused by some of the Tweets posted by known employees; such expressions of individual opinion and subjectivity could get them into trouble with political patrons, relatives or other members of the offline communities in which they function. The structures of their ‘real’ offline social existence, in short, prevent them from speaking freely in the public sphere generated by social media.
The use of an alias, thus, is usually an effect of conscious and calibrated decisions in which the opportunities of the online public culture are weighed against the conventional restrictions of offline public culture. Different sets of norms and codes of conduct are measured against each other, and the conclusion for these people is that you can only be uniquely and really yourself on social media when you delete or mask your real name – when you become someone else or remain an anonymous voice, in other words.
I see this as part of ‘the care of the selfie’. We are familiar with the argument developed by a range of scholars, from Foucault to Goffman, that our social existence in Modernity is dependent on large and infinitely detailed sets of norms and regulations for impression management, aimed at appearing as a ‘normal’ subject in the eyes of others. These norms and regulations are socially sanctioned, and all of us are invited to internalize and incorporate them through self-regulation and self-censorship – the things Foucault called ‘the care of the self’. What the use of aliases on social media demonstrates, I think, is how this offline care of the self is now complemented by similar sets of norms and regulations governing our online social lives. The use of aliases, along with a range of other practices, is part of a constructed ‘selfie’, an identity designed solely for online presence.
When meticulously constructed, maintained and applied, this selfie offers us the pleasures of aspects of social life not attainable elsewhere. Or, if you wish, it offers us membership into a community culture that runs in conjunction with the cultures of offline communities but can no longer be detached from it. Which is why we can be truly ourselves there in very different ways from those we practice elsewhere.
You can read more about the themes of the conference in this post on our blog.
This month we are publishing the third edition of Sport Tourism Developmentby James Higham and Tom Hinch. In this post, James reflects on one point of inspiration for the book, and his own experiences of sport tourism.
Sarah’s recent blog post, Tales from a Sport Tourist, provides some interesting insights into tourist experiences of sport. It has long been recognised that sports and particularly mega-sports events offer much potential to generate recurrent flows of tourists, and to unlock the considerable social and economic development potential of sport and tourism. When Tom and I first starting thinking about the links between sport and tourism, it initially occurred to us that beyond event tourism, little dedicated attention had been paid to aspects of sport-related tourism that lie beyond sports fans like Sarah, and the spectator flows generated by big sports events. Indeed, as we were researching and writing the third edition over the course of the last year or so, it occurred to us that one important aspect of sport-related tourism that has grown and diversified incredibly in recent years, is engagement in non-elite competitive sports and, indeed, the development of sports events that cater not only for elite/professional athletes, but for all levels of competitive, social and recreational engagements in sports. Big city marathons (London, New York and Boston among others) are great examples, where world record holders and Olympic champions compete alongside recreational runners, who may be running in fancy dress costumes, while engaged in deeply personal charity awareness and fund-raising campaigns.
The image on the cover of our third edition is taken from the Hawea Epic, an event held in April each year that is branded ‘New Zealand’s ultimate mountain bike challenge’. The ‘Epic’ starts and finishes at the Hawea Pub, with the not insignificant challenge or riding the 125km around the lake in between. The 2018 Epic was on 14th April. For the last two years the ‘Epic’ took place on glorious days of still, mild autumn weather, but the weather in the New Zealand at the same time this year was freezing cold with snow falling to 300m. This made it tougher than usual in the wet and cold conditions. However, participants came to the event from far and wide.
Some of those participants came to Hawea with competitive goals and ambitions, but many others had deeply personal and emotional reasons to participate. I competed in the Epic for the seventh time this year but the physical and mental challenge was only one reason for my participation. In 2013 I competed in the Epic in wintery conditions similar to the weather in Otago this year. I completed the race in 7 hours and 48 minutes and at the end of the race, utterly exhausted, I found out via a text message that a close family member had passed away while I was racing. In the weeks and months following, I vowed to go back to Hawea each year in April to race in their memory, and that is what I did earlier this month.
This year, I have added another layer of personal meaning to my sport tourism experience. Following a chance meeting with a complete stranger on a mountain bike trail in Wanaka in January I have signed up to a charity NGO called So They Can that supports educational opportunities for children in Africa. So this year I travelled to Hawea to raise funds for Bridgit, a five year old girl who lives in New Canaan Village in Kenya. All funds raised will go to ensure Bridgit can start school this year. She will get two meals a day, access to clean water and medical care and school stationery and books. I am aiming to raise $NZ800 to meet these costs for the first year of her schooling. You can make a small donation at this website if you are inclined: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/bridgit-is-epic. Like Sarah’s accounts of her sport spectator experiences, these personal accounts offer unique insights into important aspects of the sport tourist experience.
For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Tourism and Cricket edited by Tom Baum and Richard Butler.
Last month I headed off to Chicago with Anna and Tommi for my first international trip with MM – a week of back to back conferences, starting with AAAL and ending with TESOL. After a nice, relaxing flight over, I arrived in Chicago ready to dive straight into the first day of AAAL the following morning.
On the walk to the conference hotel on the first morning, I truly understood how Chicago got its “Windy City” nickname. It was absolutely freezing! No matter which way you turned, hoping the next block would offer some shelter, the gusts coming off the lake seemed to find you. It was a relief to arrive and hunker down in basement where the exhibit hall was located.
After a fairly relaxed start, it was quite the baptism of fire when the first coffee break brought a flurry of people downstairs to the exhibit hall, and every subsequent break continued in the same vein, with all three of us scrabbling for pens, order forms and books at once. Still, it was great to see so much enthusiasm for our books and it was a really successful conference in terms of sales, with Jan Blommaert’s new book, Dialogues with Ethnography, and Translanguaging in Higher Education edited by Catherine M. Mazak and Kevin S. Carroll proving particularly popular.
It was also a really good opportunity for me to finally meet so many of the people I’ve been emailing back and forth with over the past three and a half years, and put faces to names. We were even able to spend time with a couple of our authors after the conference over dinner and had lovely meals out with Wayne Wright, and Maggie Hawkins and her son, Sam. I particularly enjoyed sampling the culinary delights Chicago has to offer, including deep dish pizza, steak and the best Brussels sprouts I have ever encountered in my life!
With AAAL over and Anna on a flight back to the UK, Tommi and I headed straight off to the convention centre where this year’s TESOL was being held. It was a totally different experience for me, having never exhibited in a convention centre before, and I couldn’t believe the sheer scale of the place. After a quiet start, our stand got busier and busier, and by the time Tommi left for home on the penultimate day, I was rushed off my feet! Again, sales were good and it was particularly pleasing to take so many preorders of Shawna Shapiro, Raichle Farrelly and Mary Jane Curry’s forthcoming book, Educating Refugee-background Students, due out in May.
It being my first time in Chicago, I took the opportunity wherever possible to see some of the sights at the end of each day at the conference. I ventured off to Millennium Park to see the famous Bean sculpture there, visited the Art Institute (where the highlight, aside from the collections of famous paintings, were the incredible Thorne Miniature Rooms) and waited in what felt like the world’s longest queue to go up the Willis Tower and try out “The Ledge”, a glass balcony that extends four feet outside the 103rd floor!
Language Learner Autonomy, by David Little, Leni Dam and Lienhard Legenhausen. The latter two authors were at the conference and as active members of the IATEFL LASIG they were busy letting delegates know about their new publication.
Language Teacher Psychology, edited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas. Sarah Mercer had been the plenary speaker at last year’s conference and many delegates were already aware of this exciting new book. I especially enjoyed meeting friends and colleagues of the editors, who were happy to let them know the good news of the book’s popularity, sometimes by taking a photo of the book at the stand to send to them!
Having not been to this conference before, many of the delegates were unknown to me and it was great for us to be able to reach a new audience, especially one that is so teacher focused. I was, however, also pleased to see a few familiar faces in the IATEFL crowd, including Janet Enever, the series editor of our new Early Language Learning in School Contexts series and author Carol Griffiths, whose new book is so new that I had to bring copies straight from the office.
As well as being my first visit to IATEFL, it was also my first trip to Brighton. As someone who loves the sea, I thoroughly enjoyed getting a good dose of sea air on my way to the conference every morning and treating myself to fish and chips on the beach at the end of the busy week. I managed to explore a bit of Brighton on the one dry and sunny evening of the week and loved what I saw…Brighton is definitely a UK city I’d love to return to for a holiday (ideally when the weather is a bit better!)
The marketing process is managed by me as Head of Marketing and I am assisted by Flo who is Marketing and Publishing Coordinator. Together, we make sure that we publicise each book to booksellers, retailers and individuals as well as across our social media channels. We also produce print catalogues and regular email newsletters to promote our books and ensure we inform relevant organisations and groups. We receive all kinds of queries throughout the marketing process so I’ve attempted to answer some of the most common questions here.
When will you start marketing my book?
As soon as a book goes into production we begin the marketing process. This will be approximately 6 months before publication. We create an individual marketing plan for each title and incorporate both the commissioning editor and the author’s suggestions. You can read more about this process in Flo’s blog post.
Can I buy copies of my book at a discount?
Yes, as an author you are entitled to a 50% discount on all our titles, including your own book. We will also provide you with a discount flyer for you to send to all your friends and colleagues and take to any talks you are giving or conferences you’re attending.
The price of my book is incorrect on Amazon / My book isn’t available on Amazon. Can you fix this?
We can’t make changes directly to Amazon’s site but if there are any errors such as prices, publication date, title etc we can request for these to be updated as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we’re unable to prompt Amazon to place an order so sometimes your book may be marked as unavailable due to a delay in them ordering stock.
Will my book be on sale in my local Waterstones?
It’s possible that Waterstones will stock your book if it’s a university branch and the book is a course book at your institution. Otherwise it’s unlikely that your book will be available as they stock very few high level academic titles in their high street stores. However, the main sales of our titles come from other sources so please don’t be concerned if your local bookshop isn’t stocking your book.
Will you be marketing my book on social media?
Yes, definitely! We market all our books through our various social media channels. Campaigns are always more successful when the author is involved so we send our authors a detailed guide to marketing on social media at the start of the marketing process.
Can I post about my book on Facebook?
Yes please do! Although we market all our books through our own channels, it’s always far more effective for authors to utilise their own personal contacts to sell their book.
Can you send a review copy of my book to X journal?
We are happy to send review copies of your book to relevant journals and will be asking for suggestions at the start of the marketing process. Please be aware that some journals don’t have a book review section and therefore will be unable to review the book.
Do I have to fill in an author questionnaire?
Yes you do, and your commissioning editor will send it to you at the appropriate time. The information you provide on your author questionnaire is vital for helping us to understand how best to market your book and to reach the appropriate audience. It is also the best way of sharing any of your own existing contacts and any other ideas you have for marketing your book.
Will you be organising a book launch for my book?
We’re not able to organise book launches for every book but if you are organising an event, please let us know so that we can arrange for copies to be sent in good time, and if it’s local or we happen to be in the area, we may even be able to attend. Equally, if there is a conference where a book event is appropriate we would be happy to support you with marketing materials.
Will my book be featured in mainstream media?
Our books do occasionally get picked up in mainstream media but these are exceptions, not the norm. However, if your book relates to a topical or controversial issue that is currently being covered in the media then it’s possible that it can be featured. Any media contacts you have or ideas for publications for us to approach are very helpful.
Can I have a free copy of my book for my mum?
Yes of course! On the author questionnaire you can list people who you would like to receive a copy of your book. We usually suggest that you list influential people in your field who will be interested in your work and may help promote it, but of course you can list your mum as one of your recipients.
Will all the contributors to my book receive a free copy?
What the contributors will receive is stated in the contributor agreements which are signed early in the editorial process. If you have any queries about this, please contact your commissioning editor.
Will my book be on display at X conference?
If you have listed the conference on your author questionnaire we will do our best to get some publicity there. Unfortunately we don’t have an unlimited budget and the costs of some conferences are so prohibitive that we’re unable to attend all those that we would like to.
Why isn’t my book going to be published in paperback?
The decision of whether to publish your book in paperback and hardback or hardback only is made by the commissioning editor and the rest of the team. Your commissioning editor is your best contact for this question.
Will my book be listed in your catalogue?
Yes all our recent books will be included in our main catalogue which is printed each year in September. Go to our website to join our mailing list to ensure you receive a copy.
This month we published a new edition of Understanding Language Use in the Classroom by Susan J. Behrens, which now includes teaching materials for college educators. In this post Susan reveals what we can expect from the new edition.
My latest project with the wonderful team at Multilingual Matters is an updated and expanded edition of my 2014 book Understanding Language Use in the Classroom: A Linguistic Guide for College Educators. The original text was my way of offering teachers in higher education accessible lessons in the ways language works, a kind of Linguistics 101 in question and answer format about all aspects of language, especially academic discourse. I think a lot about the intersection of linguistics and pedagogy because I am a linguist, and I direct the teaching and learning center at Marymount Manhattan College. Long ago I saw how linguistics and pedagogy fit together, and most of my work involves making connections between the two.
Feedback I received from many readers of the original text asked me how they could use the material directly with their students, as lessons and assignments. With this new edition, Understanding Language Use in the Classroom: Including Teaching Materials for College Educators, I take on linguistic stereotypes often found in the media. We are all rather susceptible to the many ubiquitous but unchallenged images about language and language users in the media and popular culture (for a taste of language snarkiness and snobbery, check out “Word Crimes” by Weird Al Yankovic). In 2016, I worked with students to examine how Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites depict accents and dialects. We also found in popular culture plenty of statements that men and women “speak different languages.” My students found numerous examples of young women being criticized for using vocal fry and up talk. We considered what goes into the perception of a “gay voice.” And we tackled the assumptions that our very hometown, New York City, is the center of linguistic rudeness.
Why study stereotypes? Public perception and popular impressions of language – whether or not accurate, and often magnified by media – can set into motion, as well as reinforce, bias against groups of people. Nuances and complexities, not a stereotype’s strengths, are lost when we make grand claims about language use and language users, their grammar, accents, and dialects.
The additional material in this book – which takes it into the digital realm with PowerPoint slides, images, and URL links – offers lesson plans and instructor guidance material. Each lesson is connected to a chapter in the original book and extends that chapter, encouraging more exploration, more hands-on linguistic investigation. The pedagogical material is not just for linguistics classes. I wanted to make it adaptable to various audiences and class schedules, and I have included suggestions for customizing the lessons, including assignments that can be both in-class activities and research projects.
The original material is still there: a discussion of academic discourse and its role in higher education, the “conversations” about all levels of language, as well as sample worksheets, references and other resources. Since my work on linguistics for educators is ongoing, I have also updated the book with discussions about research conducted since 2014.
Every step of the process (for both editions) has been made exciting and smooth thanks to the Multilingual Matters team: Tommi, Anna, Sarah, Laura, Elinor, and Flo. Since the first book came out, I also got to meet some of these folks when they traveled to the US for conferences. Thanks for all the good chats, especially about Moomins.