How Has Language Education Changed Over Time?

This month we published Language Education in a Changing World by Rod Bolitho and Richard Rossner. In this post the authors explain what inspired them to write the book and why they think it is needed.

We’re pleased: after a long period of gestation and writing we’ve just received copies of our new book Language Education in a Changing World.

So what inspired us to write the book, and why do we think it is needed? Combined, our experience in language education spans 100 years. We have become increasingly aware that the time-honoured segmentations of foreign language education, teaching and learning of the language of schooling, language sensitive subject teaching and so on are no longer meaningful, if they ever were.

We have tried to take stock of how language and communication permeate and impact on all education at all ages, and in the book we review some of the thought-provoking work done by the Council of Europe and specialists in the fields of educational applied linguistics, multilingualism and pluralistic approaches. How have these perspectives impacted on learning in the classroom over the last 40 years? What is being done around the world – or at least in the parts of the world where we have been able to glean information – to incorporate holistic views of language and students’ language repertoires in education, and in teacher education? What could be done to foster dynamic collaboration among teachers and teacher educators across the curriculum? These are some of the questions we have addressed. It was quite a learning experience for us!

In the book we take a fairly close look at four or five areas in particular. We start with an exploration of the role of language and languages in learning and teaching, before going on to look at the recent history and current state of foreign language education and the somewhat controversial impact of English in education. In the second part of the book, we examine teacher education, both pre-service education and continuing professional development for teachers of languages, as well as the extent to which language and communication issues are addressed in the education of teachers of other subjects. The third part of the book focuses on policy around language in education and the roles various stakeholders play in influencing and implementing – or resisting – change. Then we end with our own wish list of future developments in policy around language in education and teacher education.

As potential readers, we had in mind education professionals of all kinds who are interested in exploring the role of language in the teaching of all subjects across the curriculum, including teachers of language, other teachers as well as teacher educators. We hope policymakers, textbook writers, curriculum developers and researchers will also find the book useful. Whatever their role and specific interests, we would welcome readers’ reactions to the contents of our book, and the policy recommendations we have made.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like The Action-oriented Approach by Enrica Piccardo and Brian North.

Tips for Working From Home

Following the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus, we are now all working from home. A few members of the team regularly work from home and are veterans of the practice, but for the rest of us it’s taking some getting used to! For anyone else who’s adjusting, we thought we’d put together some top tips for a successful day working at home.

  • Treat it like a normal working day as far as possible. Get up at the same time as usual and shower, get dressed etc. Don’t get your laptop out or scan through emails until your ‘start time’ in the morning, and when you finish for the day, put your laptop away.
  • If possible try to get some natural light and fresh air before you start work, even if it’s just leaning out of the window to drink your tea.
  • Have a designated working space, ideally a desk, but definitely not your sofa or bed!
  • Get up and move around once an hour.
  • Try to get outside for a stroll at lunchtime and, if possible, repeat after work too.
  • Make sure your lighting is good to work by, ideally natural light near a window.
  • Drink plenty of water and have snacks on hand.
  • Depending on how efficient your heating/insulation is, it might be chillier at home than in the office. Make sure to layer up and invest in some good slippers!
  • Try to keep up communication with your colleagues as much as possible. We use an instant messaging platform to keep in touch with each other throughout the day.
  • If you’re missing the hubbub of working in an office, the radio can be a good substitute. You could also do a collaborative playlist with your colleagues that you all listen to at the same time, as we’re planning!
    Laura in her new home office set-up

    Take care everyone!

Digital Conferences and a Virtual Book Fair

Having posted on the blog earlier in the year about our busy upcoming conference season, unfortunately the outbreak of coronavirus worldwide has forced many of these events to be postponed or cancelled. We always look forward to catching up with our authors and other contacts and it’s a real shame that these important gatherings won’t be going ahead, but given the circumstances, it’s a wise decision for the organisers to have made.

So that our authors and customers don’t miss out from a book-buying perspective, we are holding a ‘virtual book fair’ this conference season (originally the brainchild of publisher Trevor Ketner who started the hashtag #AWPVirtualBookfair on Twitter after many presses were forced to pull out of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference). If you were hoping to grab a bargain at a forthcoming conference and now won’t be able to, you can use our code SPECIAL40 at the checkout on our website to get 40% off your order.

CAUTHE 2020, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Aotearoa/New Zealand

In February Sarah made her annual trip to the other side of the world for CAUTHE, held this year at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In this post she fills us in on her best CAUTHE experience ever!

Tihei mauri ora, tihei mauri ora
Ngā iwi o te motu e
Tü ake, karangatia
Tü ake, manaakitia
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā

I haven’t been able to stop singing the conference Māori welcome song since I’ve been back! It was beautifully performed on the first morning by the AUT staff, led by Valance Smith, and all delegates were encouraged to join in each day of the conference. That was only one of the highlights of the conference’s opening morning! Delegates were invited to take part in a musical activity (Boom Time) which was a lot of fun even if you are rhythmically-challenged 😃

Alison Phipps then provided the opening keynote. We are proud to call Alison a friend of our company as well as a series editor and author. Her keynote on inhospitable hospitality and the treatment of refugees was in equal parts stunning, disturbing, breathtaking, uncomfortable and moving. It generated a lot of discussion during the following days and was an amazing start to a brilliant conference.

Alison's keynote
Alison’s keynote

The first day finished with the welcome reception and another moving performance, this time from the AUT student choir who performed Māori songs and finished with a haka.

The rest of the conference didn’t disappoint, with impressive paper presentations and other great keynotes from John Barrett, the founder of Kapiti Island Tours, on valuing people and community over profit, and from Iis Tussyadiah on AI and smart technologies.

Workshop
Our book workshop!

On the second day I co-hosted a workshop on the role of the book with two more of our series editors and authors, Ian Yeoman and Una McMahon-Beattie. It was a fun experience and I hope the attendees found it helpful!

Huge credit and many thanks go to the conference organisers, Tracy Harkison,  David Williamson, Glen Bailey (and many others!) for putting on the best CAUTHE I’ve attended!

Post-conference, I visited Wellington and Christchurch where I enjoyed the hospitality of Ian Yeoman and his wife (and dogs!) and Michael Hall and his family (thanks again for the chocolate!), and on my return to Auckland took a day trip to Tauranga.

Already looking forward to next year’s conference in Fremantle!

Sarah

World Book Day 2020: Our Favourite Childhood Stories

Today is World Book Day! Inspired by this year’s theme, Share A Million Stories, in this post we talk about our favourite stories from childhood.

Laura

One of my favourite stories as a child was There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon. It’s a story about a little boy called Billy who wakes up to find a dragon in his bedroom, but when he tells his mum, she doesn’t believe him. The dragon, who is a rather rebellious character, gets bigger and bigger and harder and harder to ignore, yet the mum still tells Billy that the dragon doesn’t exist. It’s a funny story and a great reminder that sometimes children are right and adults are wrong. Plus, it has some really tasty looking pancakes in it, which I was always desperate for my mum to make for breakfast (she never did!).

Tommi

One of my favourite childhood stories was a book read to me in Finnish when I was laid up in bed with pneumonia. It was called Kuinka Kum-Maa on Kaikkialla and tells of a little boy called Pau who is bored and ill in bed. All of a sudden a shape in the flowery wallpaper comes to life, and princess Lilaloo takes little Pau to ‘Kum-Maa’ (a play on the Finnish word kummaa meaning strange) where all of the inhabitants are two dimensional like pictures and so eat only two dimensional foods like gingerbread and pancake. Princess Lilaloo and Pau have a number of adventures in ‘Kum-Maa’, and I vividly remember staring at the wallpaper and the various paintings at my grandparent’s house imagining my own exciting adventures. After all, as the Finnish title promises, “Kum-Maa”  is everywhere…

Alice

I was considering writing about something a little less obvious, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the Harry Potter books were hands down my favourites as a child. I distinctly remember the release of new books and the pain at these times of being the youngest in my family – this meant having to wait for every other family member to read it before I could. When it was finally mine, I would read it cover to cover without much stopping, before turning back to the beginning and starting again. So exciting!

Anna

I had a lot of favourite books when I was a child (I still do!) but what really stands out for me is the Malory Towers books by Enid Blyton. Sharing them now with my daughters (who love them as much as I did), I’m surprised at how modern they are in some ways – the girls are expected and encouraged to do great things, and to be clever and brave as well as kind. I suspect when I was a child it was the midnight feasts and the absence of parents that I enjoyed most though.

 

Flo

Like Anna, it’s really difficult for me to choose, but one that stands out is Dick King Smith’s Sophie Stories. I loved (and still do!) the character of Sophie – ‘small but very determined’ and no-nonsense, she loves animals and her greatest ambition is to be a ‘lady farmer’. At the beginning of the books her parents think she’s too young to have a pet, so in preparation for her future career she keeps ‘flocks and herds’ of woodlice, earwigs and snails in the garden shed, which she conscientiously tends to. As the series goes on and she grows older, she accumulates a cat (Tomboy), a rabbit (Beano), a puppy (Puddle) and eventually a pony (Lucky). My sister and I were big animal lovers and our ultimate wish was to have a pony (spoiler – it never happened), so the idea of all those pets was very appealing (less so to our parents, who had agreed to a cat and nothing more).

Sarah

One of my favourite bedtime stories (and one that has always stuck with me!) when I was young was from Enid Blyton’s Goodnight Stories. It is called Polly’s Ps and Qs. It was about an ill-mannered girl who always forgot to say please and thank you. Her mother decided that she would pin a big ‘P’ or ‘Q’ to her dress every time she forgot. I lived in horror of my parents starting this trend if I didn’t remember my manners! 😃

NABE 2020 in Las Vegas!

Laura receiving the NABE 2020 Exhibitor of the Year Award

I have just got back to the office from the 49th annual National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) conference, which this year was held in glittering Las Vegas! The conference certainly got off to a sparkling start for Multilingual Matters as we were awarded the NABE Exhibitor of the Year award, which I was very excited to accept on behalf of the company at the ribbon-cutting opening ceremony. The ceremony had a bit of an Oscars/Grammys awards feel to it, as Elvis made an appearance! Fortunately, I kept my speech shorter than many heard at the Oscars! We are delighted to have been honoured with this award, having a long history of exhibiting at NABE and very much support the association’s mission of ‘advocating for educational equity and excellence for bilingual/multilingual students in a global society’.

View from Laura’s hotel at sunrise

The conference itself was a busy one and I was especially pleased at how many delegates seemed to find just the book they were looking for, to help them with their teaching, research or other work, at our stand. We are rare at the NABE conference in being an exhibitor presenting academic research to the delegates and it was nice that so many appreciated what we bring to the conference. Among the popular titles were Deborah K. Palmer’s book Teacher Leadership for Social Change in Bilingual and Bicultural Education, the 2nd edition of What Teachers Need to Know About Language by Carolyn Temple Adger, Catherine E. Snow and Donna Christian and our enduringly popular textbook Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism by Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright. We’re hoping to get the 7th edition of this textbook out in time for NABE 2021, as it’s sure to be a big hit there. Next year’s conference is to be held in Houston, Texas and will be the 50th edition so with both our new textbook and NABE’s anniversary to celebrate, it’s sure to be a good one! We’re looking forward to it already!

Laura

Does a Language Teacher’s Identity Matter?

Next month we are publishing Language Teacher Recognition by Alison Stewart. In this post the author explains how the book came about and what readers will learn from it. 

Does a language teacher’s identity matter? What about the case of Filipino teachers of English working in Japan?

Filipinos used to be denied access to jobs as English teachers in Japan because they weren’t regarded as “native speakers”, and hence not the right kind of people to teach English. Nowadays, they are being hired in large numbers to work across the range of public and private schools, particularly in elementary and preschool education. What has changed? And how has this affected the lives of Filipinos living in Japan?

I first came across a group of Filipino English teachers a decade ago and have been following the group’s activities and progress since then. The successes of many of the group’s members inspired me to start collecting their stories. Through the narratives of eight women and one man, we can see how the changing social conditions of Japan – from migration patterns to educational reforms to shifts in ideologies about language and identity – are reflected in the career paths and aspirations, the disappointments and the triumphs, of Filipino teachers in Japan.

Seven of the teachers belong to an organization, Filipino English Teacher in Japan (FETJ), which supports and trains would-be English teachers. The different narratives allow us to trace the various, at times conflicting, interests and motivations that have propelled the rapid growth of this organization from informal study group to social activism on behalf of a marginalized minority in Japan to teacher training NPO and conduit to potential employers.

Identity is a hot topic in language education research these days, but this is the first time that it has been explored through the lens of Recognition Theory. In the book I’ve attempted to explain why recognition deserves our attention, how it differs from the poststructuralist approach that currently dominates the field, and how it can underpin a “moral turn” in the field. A focus on mutual recognition in different social domains – between those we care for, in large social groups, and in society at large – places social justice firmly at the center of our research endeavors.

The narratives of the nine Filipino teachers, and my own story as well, are presented in their entirety. This too is a break away from current research practices. Readers will find their own resonances in the stories, but I have used them as stepping-stones into discussions on privilege and marginalization, on language teacher associations, on language teaching as a career, and on the very language that we use to talk about identity in language education research.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Identity, Gender and Teaching English in Japan by Diane Hawley Nagatomo.

Acadeafic: An Academic Platform for Sign Language and Deaf Studies Research

We have recently become a sponsor of Acadeafic, a new academic platform providing blogs and vlogs about sign language and Deaf Studies research. In this post, one of the site’s creators, our author Maartje De Meulder, explains how the idea for the platform came about, what its aims are and what you can expect to find there.

Acadeafic is a deaf-curated multi-author academic platform that allows Deaf Studies and sign language researchers to share their work in a bite-sized format. There is an amazing output of research on Deaf Studies and sign languages (journal articles, books, research projects, dissertations, and more), but as a research community we want to do more to share our work with audiences within and beyond academia, on an open-access basis, and in formats that are easier to digest than full-length academic prose.

All our posts are bilingual, consisting of a blog in English and a vlog in International Sign (or a national signed language). The blogs and vlogs are designed to act as stand-alone pieces and are not necessarily translations from one language to the other. We believe that texts in a written language such as English and in a signed language are often meant for different audiences, and should be produced with this audience design in mind. Therefore, at Acadeafic a written blog can have a slightly different content than a signed video blog, can highlight different issues or examples, and have a different structure or aim. In this way Acadeafic is different from academic peer-reviewed journals such as the Deaf Studies Digital Journal which seeks full-length contributions of original publications in American Sign Language as the primary language of submission, and only accepts English text as a source text to be translated to American Sign Language.

All our submissions go through peer review conducted by a current board of eight reviewers. Since Acadeafic is not an academic journal we do not engage in cutthroat comments from ‘reviewer 2’. Most suggestions are made with the aim of enhancing readability for the blog’s wider audience, although we may also double-check factual accuracy of certain points or ask for links to supporting information. We hold both modalities by the same standards, so vlogs go through review as well. Here, suggestions are made linked to clarity of signing, signing style, specific concepts, etc.

Most of our posts are based on recently published articles or chapters and we also plan to accommodate series of posts based on special issues or edited volumes. We also have posts based on unpublished work such as dissertations, and we are keen to support junior researchers in promoting their work. We offer a space for opinion pieces or blogs related to (doing) Deaf Studies and sign language research, for example working with sign language interpreters, navigating academia as a deaf scholar, research methodology and ethics, organizing writing retreats, and access to academic discourse. Here as well, we are planning a series about and for deaf PhD students, and one about language learning and language biographies.

We are pleased to collaborate with Multilingual Matters on getting this blog out to a wider audience. We are always soliciting contributions so if you want to promote your work, do get in touch!

If you found this interesting, you might like Maartje’s book (co-edited with Joseph J. Murray and Rachel L. McKee) The Legal Recognition of Sign Languages.

Conference Season 2020

2020 has well and truly begun and we’re looking forward to the arrival of spring, not only for the (hopefully) slightly warmer weather, but also because it marks the beginning of our busy annual conference season.

Sarah at the recent CAUTHE conference with our raffle winner

In fact, Sarah has already been flying the flag for CVP at the CAUTHE conference in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this month, where she was able to have her yearly catch-up with our tourism contacts down under. Laura will be the next to head off, beginning our season of US conference travel with NABE in Las Vegas next week. Next on the schedule is GURT in Washington DC, which Anna will be attending in March. Following hot on her heels Tommi and Laura will be off to the back-to-back AAAL and TESOL conferences held this year in Denver. Then as April rolls around, it will be time for Laura to set off again (although not so far afield this time) for IATEFL in Manchester, our first UK conference of 2020.

As we head into summer, Sarah will be making the trip up north to attend the TEFI conference in York in June. Unfortunately the Sociolinguistics Symposium planned to take place in Hong Kong in June has had to be postponed until 2021, due to the coronavirus outbreak. We’re looking forward to catching up with everyone there next year instead. We then continue our summer travel with EuroSLA in Barcelona, Spain in July, followed by AILA in Groningen, Netherlands the following month.

As well as all these major conferences, we sometimes pop to smaller, more local meets and book launches, and send unattended displays far and wide, so wherever you’re heading this year, look out for our books!

Language Continues to Divide Us, Despite Globalisation

This month we published The Dynamics of Language and Inequality in Education edited by Joel Austin Windle, Dánie de Jesus and Lesley Bartlett. In this post Joel explains the book’s focus and how it came about.

Some of the world’s most enduring and pervasive social divisions are maintained through language practices and ideologies embedded in education. If we scratch beneath the surface of globalization’s connectivity and mobility, we find an underbelly of linguistic inequality, but also, more encouragingly, resistance to oppressive language practices. This is they central premise of The Dynamics of Language and Inequality in Education.

Our focus is on the Global South, where the promises of European modernity are exposed as underpinned by a geopolitics of imperialism that structure linguistic inequalities in sometimes surprising ways. For example, for two centuries the Portuguese crown and Jesuit missionaries relied on an Indigenous language, Língua Geral, to conquer and exploit the peoples of the Amazon, rather than Portuguese. In contemporary African schooling, a complex linguistic market sees old colonial languages displaced by new ones as markers of distinction. English, replete with ideologies of race, class and coloniality, plays a central role in the contemporary scenario. It has gradually displaced Russian as the prestige language of Mongolian higher education, revealed in online practices and lines of exclusion that mirror ancient urban-rural divides. In the Pacific Islands and Latin America, the teaching and policing of English brings practices of shaming and feelings of inadequacy in which race plays a central role. Sensitive ethnographic work by authors from each of these settings, amongst many others, brings out the complexity of boundary formation as not only delimiting, but also structuring linguistic contacts and exchanges around education.

The chapters also highlight the emergence of critical consciousness of the ideological dimensions of language and resistance to linguistic inequalities, along with the wider social divisions they shape. This is evident in feminist pedagogies in language education in Saudi Arabia, queer pedagogies in Brazilian teacher education, and plurilingual literacy pedagogies in South Africa. The book emerged from a shared commitment amongst the editors and authors to these resistant pedagogies and from an emerging research network of critical scholars, most of whom are connected through Brazil.

The initial idea emerged from discussions I had with Dánie de Jesus during a post-graduate course on Bourdieu and literacy which I taught at the Federal University of Mato Grosso. Dánie and I both work as teacher educators in Brazil, while Lesley Bartlett, an anthropologist based in the US, has long-term Brazilian connections through her work on adult literacy in Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco. In contrast to work from the global north that often sees globalization as a unifying, boundary-weakening process, our Brazilian experiences suggested the need to counter this view with perspectives from what Raewyn Connell, in Southern Theory, termed “the pointy end of globalization”.

Joel Windle

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Multilingualism, (Im)mobilities and Spaces of Belonging edited by Kristine Horner and Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain.