With Anthony Liddicoat’s book Language-in-education Policies out this week we asked him to tell us a bit about how he came to write it.
This book grew out of a concern that I have had for some time that, while language-in-education policies often talk about using languages to develop intercultural understanding, they often don’t seem to focus much on how they are going to achieve that. To try to understand more about why this is the case, I started to look more at how policies talked about intercultural understanding and how these ideas related to other ways of talking about language and culture. This book, by focusing on ideas like ‘intercultural relationships’, is one way of trying to get at this problem within language policy.
The book is organised around a series of case studies of different polities. There are different ways these case studies could be divided up but I decide to focus on policy contexts rather than only polities as I found that quite different things happen depending on the groups for whom planning is being done. The book has chapters on policies for foreign language learning, for language education of immigrants, for language education of indigenous people and for external language spread. This allowed me to write about the ways there are similarities and differences between the ways different societies have addressed the issue. Each chapter has three case studies from different polities for each policy context.
Although I found focusing on policy contexts the best way to work with the issues I was dealing with, I didn’t want to lose the possibility of joining together policy contexts in a single society. For this reason I decided that I would choose two countries that would be included in case studies across more than one context. These countries were Australia and Japan. I chose Australia, not only because it is the place I am most familiar with but also because it is a society that represents itself as multicultural. Japan on the other hand has a very monocultural view of itself. So these two case studies are like opposite points on a continuum, with the other case studies falling somewhere between. It is possible to read across these case studies to get a sense of how Australia and Japan deal with policy across contexts and see some similarities and differences between contexts in one society.
Writing the book was like a journey across contexts and across countries and I hope that reading it brings the same experience.
If you liked this book you might also like:
Uniformity and Diversity in Language Policy edited by Catrin Norrby and John Hajek