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.

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! 😃

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.

Why Choose Duoethnography as a Research Method?

This month we published Duoethnography in English Language Teaching edited by Robert J. Lowe and Luke Lawrence. In this post the editors explain what duoethnography is and why you might choose it as a method for research.

Duoethnography as a best-fit method for research

Duoethnography is an emerging qualitative research method that involves two researchers working together to harness the power of dialogue and the researchers’ own lived experiences to uncover new insights and challenge grand narratives. Here we talk about how we came to duoethnography, lay out the main characteristics of the method and offer it up as a method of best-fit, especially for new researchers.

Finding a research method

Finding an appropriate research method, especially for new and emerging scholars, can be one of the most challenging aspects of carrying out any research. You might have read up on all the literature, found an area in your field that you are passionate about, and come up with a great idea for a project – but then the problems start! One problem is simply finding the confidence that you have the skills to carry out the research, and another is that the research methods available don’t seem to fit what you want to do. For us, although there were a number of alternative qualitative research methods out there, the problem we found was that our own voices and experiences – the very people whose knowledge and experience had inspired the research projects in the first place – were shut out at every turn.

How we came to duoethnography

We both came to duoethnography when we found that our own personal experiences didn’t quite chime with what we were reading in the literature. However, there didn’t seem to be an academic frame within which to explore these experiences. As well as not seeing our own experiences reflected in what we were reading about and studying, we also realised that our individual experiences were just that: individual experiences. Although valuable and valid in their own right, they would benefit by being juxtaposed with the experiences of others, preferably someone coming from a different background or perspective.

Key points of duoethnography

Duoethnography is designed to be simple enough for beginner researchers to try out, but also sophisticated enough to handle the complexity of the modern ELT and applied linguistics field. Although it is flexible to individual needs and style, some key points of carrying out a duoethnography are:

  • The self as research site – in duoethnography the researchers and their personal histories are the site of the research, but not the topic
  • Dialogic – conversation and dialogue are used to explore topics. These dialogues are then reconstructed into readable and accessible scripts
  • Requires trust – due to the often intimate and personal nature of duoethnography, trust between researchers is very important
  • Disrupts grand narratives – duoethnograhy uses personal stories to question taken-for-granted ideas

At first glance duoethnography may seem like an unorthodox method of research, but we believe that as researchers, rather than bending to outdated methods that are ill-fitting for what we want to do, it is best to find the research method that best fits our own needs. Duoethnography is a flexible, accessible method of research that any researcher, whether just starting out or a veteran in the field, can make use of to find their their own voice and forge their own path in ELT.

Robert J. Lowe and Luke Lawrence

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Critical Reflections on Research Methods edited by Doris S. Warriner and Martha Bigelow.

What Do Staff Think and Feel when Creating Service Encounters in Tourism, Events and Hospitality?

We recently published Service Encounters in Tourism, Events and Hospitality by Miriam Firth. In this post the author tells us what to expect from the book.

Satisfying customers and management is not enough. What do the staff think and feel when creating service encounters in tourism, events and hospitality?

The industries of tourism, events and hospitality require service encounters to offer customers intangible products. The service encounters form customer opinion on the business and are often referred to when evaluating service quality and customer satisfaction. But what are the staff perspectives on completing these? Where is the TripAdvisor for staff who want to complain about customers who do not behave appropriately? How does the front/back of house culture affect the service? What culture shocks does an Asian staff member have when serving a European customer in a UK business? These are some of the questions students can consider when using this book. Staff voices are presented in storied incidents from graduates working as staff in businesses associated with these industries to enable understanding and reflection on staff positions when creating service encounters.

In the book I present an examination of existing key terms often taught in programmes management in further and higher education: service quality, soft skills, intercultural communication/sensitivity, emotional/aesthetic/sexualised labour, co-production/-creation, humour use, and legal frameworks are all discussed and aligned to graduate/staff storied incidents for students to consider the staff perspective. When using these stories in my own classes students naturally open up further discussion of their own stories, or opinions on the stories. I have found that these stories enable easier access to theory by considering how and where these manifest in ‘real life’ situations and support critical examination in a more approachable frame. Rather than showcasing a case study of industry, this book offers insights from the staff creating the industry.

Within the discussion presented I question the validity of consistent focus on ‘management’ and ‘customer,’ or how management can support staff to do more, or how staff can listen and work with customers to offer more. I also expand current models on service encounters to include colleagues, management and suppliers and question the large cultural positions taken in contexts of transnational flows of people (including the staff themselves).

As a former worker and manager from these industries I often think of my own stories and incidents when serving customers. The people are what make these industries a fantastic and enjoyable location to pursue a career within, but these experiences are mostly created by the staff, not the customers nor management. This book praises the work completed by staff delivering service encounters and outlines the armoury of skills and knowledge utilised when delivering an intangible product. It also shows ways in which individuals and small cultures form the experiences and how the staff not only create, but educate management and customers within these contexts.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Tourism and Humour by Philip L. Pearce and Anja Pabel.