Ask the Authors: Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching

We recently held an online event to highlight a couple of books in our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series, in which authors Gary Barkhuizen and Chika Takahashi discussed their research with series editors Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan. In the second half of the event we opened the discussion up for audience questions and we received so many that we decided to answer those we didn’t have time for in a blog post. The recording of the event is available to watch on our YouTube channel.

Questions for Gary Barkhuizen, editor of Language Teachers Studying Abroad

A long time ago, as an undergraduate student, I was a participant in a study to measure L2 French development after study abroad. I remember being asked about romantic relationships in the return interview. At the time I thought it was very personal – is it an element in participants’ experience?

The short answer is ‘yes’. The chapter by Mitchell and Tracy-Ventura, for example, looks at careers after study abroad and gives examples of how participants often return to the host countries to continuing living with (and marrying) people they met while studying abroad. ‘Relationships’ is a very important theme running through all the chapters, and these include not only professional but also romantic relationships.

Is there a system that would allow those going on study abroad programs to meet up with others who have already been? Sharing experience could help acclimatization, perhaps.

This kind of ‘meeting up’ is often arranged by the organizers of study abroad programs, usually within institutions. A number of chapters in the book give examples of this type of connection, and how useful it is for both those going abroad (to learn from those who have already been) and those who have returned (to reflect on their past experience). Sometimes the meeting up takes place online.

Does your book include anything about teachers studying while working abroad?

Actually, it’s more like working while studying abroad. And the work might be internships, short-term placements in schools, doing a practicum, volunteering, etc. I can’t think of examples of studying while working abroad – is that still a kind of study abroad? A good question.

How do you see study abroad driving brain drain, intellectual capital exodus? This is very serious in a range of countries. Students go abroad and later settle abroad, markedly so in the case of Bulgaria, where I am.

It depends on the nature of the study abroad. For example, a semester abroad as part of a degree program requires the participant (a pre-service teacher probably) to return to the home country to complete the teacher education program. Many study abroad programs are a few weeks’ long only, in the form of an exchange for example, and so participants always return. This question may be referring to independent study, of a first degree, or a postgraduate qualification. Here there are easier options for staying abroad after study (and some host countries actually encourage this), but even so there may be immigration visa constraints about staying and often scholarship requirements forcing return.

Questions for Chika Takahashi, author of Motivation to Learn Multiple Languages in Japan

These sound like exceptional learners – did you have certain criteria when selecting participants or did you start out with a larger group?

Yes, I agree that they are rather atypical learners. Indeed, I started out with a larger group: I first interviewed 13 students who responded to the questionnaire in my dissertation, which was administered before the interviews, and who volunteered to be individually interviewed. I noticed that these two learners were contrasting and unique in their own ways even at the very first interviews. Half a year later, I did another round of interviews with five out of the 13, including these two, and they are the two I focused on after this round of interviews and the two who never declined my invitation. I can only thank them for the perseverance.

Was your study informed by a particular motivation model or theory?

Yes, I focused on the L2 motivational self system as well as intrinsic motivation in self-determination theory. At the same time, some themes not covered by these theoretical frameworks emerged from the interview data, and I tried to be particularly careful not to overlook these themes. I believe this is one of the strengths of this type of small-scale, in-depth studies.

I’m very pleased to hear that your languages other than English (LOTE) learners really enjoy language learning itself, not just as an instrument. How were your participants motivated to learn English?

They were of course aware of the aspect of English as a global language and were motivated to learn English to be able to communicate with people around the world. At the same time, particularly one of them considered that in order to understand people of other languages he needed to learn their languages. In this sense, English was not enough and was only “one of the languages” he learned; he never mentioned the aspect of, for example, learning English to gain a competitive edge in the job market.

With online language learning, is the lack of natural human interaction not one of the main reasons for loss of motivation?

That may be the case, as many of us are realizing that doing something online vs face-to-face indeed involve certain differences. At the same time, when you are learning through various media, you may get a sense of “interacting” with those in the programs online, on the radio etc., i.e., with those in the community (whatever that community may be) that one day you hope to be a part of. I think this aspect may be particularly relevant to ideal L2 self, as it involves the aspect of imagination. This aspect may be particularly relevant with the radio, which my interviewees used for their English self-instruction. This is because not having visual information may actually stimulate their imagination.

I work as an English teacher at a Japanese elementary school and I’m struggling with dealing with students who have low engagement during the class, due to lack of concentration. In this situation, how is it possible for me to improve their engagement?

Your question reminds me of my kids! I’ve never taught at elementary school, so my comment is based more on my experience as a mother, but I’d say it’s difficult for them to concentrate, first of all, for a long time (maybe 15 minutes or so? That’s probably one of the reasons why self-instructional radio materials are short), and on a topic they don’t find interesting or relevant. Also, the other day I was trying to teach some basic pronunciation of English to my daughter, who’s a 6th grader, which she found quite boring. So instead of teaching her some random sounds of English, I re-started with the explanations of basic sound systems of a language, sort of like a little linguistics class. This she found interesting and was able to understand. So even within an elementary school what one finds interesting depends on the grade, right? Of course, these are all well-discussed topics related to motivation, I think, but the issues of class organization, interest, relevance, and age all come into play.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event and asked so many interesting questions! For those who missed it live, you can watch the recording below.

Language Teachers Studying Abroad edited by Gary Barkhuizen and Motivation to Learn Multiple Languages in Japan by Chika Takahashi are available on our website.

The Importance of Prioritising Writing in the L2 Chinese Classroom

We recently published Developing Writing Competence in L2 Chinese Classrooms edited by Li Yang and Laura Valentín-Rivera. In this post the editors introduce the book and explain why they chose to focus their research on writing Chinese as a second language.

Introduction to the book

Our edited volume is focused exclusively on writing Chinese as a second language (L2). It provides readers with cutting-edge empirical research and insightful teaching methods and strategies for effectively developing L2 writing competence in L2 Chinese classroom contexts. In particular, each chapter in the volume offers practical, detailed and insightful pedagogical recommendations to (1) assist language teachers, educators,  graduate students and research scholars in making well-informed decisions on how to efficiently provide writing instruction in L2 Chinese and (2) facilitate the implementation of writing-focused activities to promote the construction of meaning, as opposed to reducing writing to the mere practice of specific vocabulary and grammar points.

Focusing on “writing” as the theme

The reasoning of focusing our edited collection on writing was our surprise caused by the fact that writing as a skill is not prioritized when being taught in the L2 classroom, especially considering that writing is a productive skill that should be as prioritized as orality. We consider that this is a pedagogical deficiency that compromises the holistic linguistic growth of L2 learners. Therefore, we aspire that our work provides pedagogical guidance that allows language instructors and academics to further their learners’ abilities as writers, that is, who can independently and collaboratively construct messages that convey complex meanings.

Targeting “Chinese” as the language: 

Originally, we had anticipated focusing on Chinese and Spanish, not only because these two represent our respective languages of research specialty, but also since both languages represent codes that are widely spoken and learned as second languages globally. However, we realized that we could make a greater contribution to the field by dedicating a single collection to one language at a time. Given the limited work available on Chinese settings, we decided to dedicate our time to said language, aspiring to make a greater contribution to the SLA field.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Cross-Linguistic Transfer of Writing Strategies by Karen Forbes.

How Does Study Abroad Impact Alumni’s Career Options?

We recently published The Professional Lives of Language Study Abroad Alumni by Celeste Kinginger and Jingyuan Zhuang. In this post the authors explain why the book is important.

As US higher education grows more expensive, it is critically important to know whether assertions about the long-term career outcomes of education abroad can be verified with empirical data. Study abroad administrators naturally believe that individual students reap great benefits, both personal and professional, from language and cultural immersion programs and exchanges, and that these benefits accrue to the larger society. In this book, they will find empirical evidence to demonstrate the value of language study abroad for the professional lives of alumni.

The book is based on a mixed-method investigation, “The Careers of Language Study Abroad Alumni,” funded by the US Department of Education and supported by the American Councils for International Education and The Forum on Education Abroad. A survey of alumni from the general educated public yielded 4899 complete responses and 2741 volunteers for interviews. A life history typology was developed to select 54 interviewees in a manner to ensure that their experiences were representative of the whole population. In the book, the qualitative and survey findings are woven together by theme. For example, in the chapter on Using Languages at Work readers will find information about the work sectors where alumni are employed, data on perceived influence of study abroad on language skills, and the fact that on average, 65% of participants have used their language skills for professional purposes. They will also find life history narratives illustrating the value of study abroad from alumni in education, business, healthcare, government service, international development, sports management, and the arts.

Other highlights for study abroad professionals include findings on motivation for international education robustly indicating that alumni value access to other cultures, the ability to navigate in a global world, and language learning enjoyment. That is, even if study abroad often has significant career impact, students’ motives are mainly non-utilitarian. Also, the chapter on Exploring Features of Study Abroad examines questions about program duration and residence options from a whole life perspective. Here we find, for example, that homestays are remembered in more vivid detail than other housing arrangements, and that the subsequent influence of a sojourn abroad depends upon the prior socio-economic horizons of the learner: even very short-term programs can vastly expand the imaginations of students who previously had little access to internationalized educational contexts.

We have written this book for two main reasons. It is a contribution to the research on language learning in study abroad, where longer-term effects are infrequently documented. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, an effort to advocate for international education in general and language learning in particular. Readers who are looking for evidence in favor of study abroad will find both abundant descriptive statistics and compelling stories of discovery and identity as college graduates with international experience enter and navigate the working world.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Language Learning in Study Abroad edited by Wenhao Diao and Emma Trentman.

Deaf Awareness Week

It’s Deaf Awareness Week and to mark it we have a post from the author of Making Sense in Sign, Jenny Froude, reflecting on progress made since the book was published. 

Do books “come of age” I wonder? If so, I like to think that mine may have done so since the year in which it was launched was 2003. Now, in Deaf Awareness Week, with a new King about to be crowned, my hope remains that deaf youngsters who may have been, quite unknowingly, influenced by some of its content may be approaching adulthood with confidence and pride in themselves and their deafness. And that parents, carers, teachers, support assistants, interpreters and other professionals might have found Tom’s story of interest and worth recommending over the years.

I recently found myself in a time warp, seated (with Tom’s permission!) in a soundproof room in a London hospital, with a son in his 40s having a longed-for upgrade to his Cochlear UK implant processor. How it took me back, as I caught the faint beeps, to those years with firstly a newly deafened infant on my lap, then a toddler hesitantly putting a little figure into a red wooden Galt boat whenever he “heard” or, realistically, “hoped he had heard” a sound. Then came the years with a mature, signing teenager keen to have a cochlear implant at his own request and prepared to cope with the long process of testing, acceptance, surgery and then listening, mapping and responding to some sound at last.

Jenny Froude’s son Tom signing with his hearing child

In the past such visits formed a source for chapters in my then embryo book, of course, but far more important was a mother’s anxiety to be there in a supportive role on his journey. Now, with a professional interpreter present, I was superfluous but personally fascinated to see Tom’s reactions to a new sound pitch and able to digest the innovative information aspect of his ongoing use, before releasing him back to his Deaf wife and three hearing children!

Since then, still stuck in a time warp, I have re-read the many letters and cards we received after the book was launched during the annual Arts Festival at St. George’s Church, Beckenham, where award winning Deaf actress, Elizabeth Quinn, was our Special Guest. This year poet and author Michael Rosen will be on stage with ‘Speaking of Books, a Family Show’ and, having just read his very moving Getting Better, I have realised that his much-loved son, Eddie, must have been born in the same year as Tom. Both caught meningitis; our baby at 5 months which robbed him of his hearing but Michael’s son, sadly, 18 years later, which cost him his life.

Jenny Froude with her son, Tom, at the launch of her book “Making Sense in Sign”

Writing a book, I discovered, was very like having a baby –  waiting, worrying, sleepless nights, excited anticipation, seeing it for the first time, naming it, checking that it’s alright and, finally, showing it off! Which is why, with my new arrival in my hand and my old “baby” beside me, all 6’2” of him, I was overjoyed to introduce Tom’s biography – Making Sense in Sign: A Lifeline for a Deaf Child – to a packed church twenty years ago.

One much valued retired Teacher of the Deaf wrote last year to say, “I wonder how many families have been influenced by The Book. Your writing doesn’t hector – just tells it like you see it”. And added that a recent photo of Tom signing with his one-year-old Alfie was “worth more than a thousand words”. Many years ago that same person had made his views, born of long experience,  clear by observing that if more people could enjoy their kids, instead of looking at them as specimens for discussion and therapy, there would be more happy deaf people. There is surely food for thought in that.

Thanks to Rose Ayling-Ellis and her Strictly Come Dancing success and those sixteen seconds of silence that shook the viewers, more people have been introduced to Tom’s biography when the subject of signing has come up in conversation with friends who already have copies. A once-local friend with two deaf offspring, a few years younger than Tom, both now enjoying excellent careers, wrote years ago to tell me she would have liked “a book similar to yours when they were young” but it would, of course, have been a very slim edition had I written it in those early days! The learning curve had only just begun…!

What did seem to be consistent as I recently read through the letters I still treasure was the recurring statement about the book – “couldn’t put it down” – to which I replied that no super glue was involved in its production, only blood, sweat and tears! I fear today’s parents are probably all too often familiar with those very words due, in many areas, to the lack of specialist, signing Social Workers, a decline in the numbers of Teachers of the Deaf, long delays and difficulties with SEN statements and the prohibitive cost for parents and families needing/wanting to learn Sign Language when, for them, it should so clearly be provided free. I truly feel for them all and for those deaf youngsters who, all too often, ask for so little but deserve so much and whose often hard-won accomplishments can make our hearts sing!

Jenny Froude

For more information about the book please see our website.

Why Anti-Racism Linguistics?

We recently published The Anti-Racism Linguist edited by Patricia Friedrich. In this post the editor explains why the book is needed and what it means to be an anti-racism linguist.

It is part of a human ritual to believe that we live in an era that presents more challenges than any other era has presented before. Maybe that is one of the things that connect us to people who came before us and those who will come after us (we leave behind our writing about such concerns, so they will know we lived in a time of tribulation).

I do not think we live in an era that presents more challenges than, say, medieval times, with their scarcity, low life expectancy, violence, and other social ills at levels that are unimaginable in the so-called developed world of the 21st century (the great barriers to equity and human dignity in many parts of the world currently notwithstanding).

However, I can say quite confidently that in my lifetime, this is the period that has presented us with the greatest challenges to mutual understanding and productive disagreement. Maybe the magnification of conflict through the infinity of the Internet has brought us to this. Maybe the disruptions of the COVID pandemic have added to the complication. Whatever the reason, the end result is that it has become harder and harder to hear and be heard, to understand and be understood. When we start from an already-decided perspective that cannot be changed no matter the evidence or the argument to the contrary, it becomes very hard to learn from one another. When one’s identity becomes so intertwined with a particular argument, what would it mean to give it up? Would it mean we are giving up a bit of ourselves? What would it take for us to start listening to each other again?

These questions become all the more pressing but also more interesting if language is one’s object of study, as is the case with us linguists. It was in that spirit, of putting ourselves both in the position of observers but also of subjects, that my colleagues and I wrote The Anti-Racism Linguist: A Book of Readings. We did not want it to be a confrontational book: clearly, that confrontation strategy is not working (not does it speak to the great importance I place in preserving human dignity in our writing and in our actions). Instead, it is a book that asks (and I hope answers, at least partially) the question: “if you were in my shoes, as a linguist, a human being, and a user of languages, what would you perceive?” And we were particularly interested in issues of linguistic prejudice, linguistic racism, and linguistic exclusion. Yet, ultimately, what we want to get at is what linguistic inclusion looks like.

Inclusion is at the heart of our pursuits as human beings because even though we are living in the 21st century, we navigate our lives with the same brain connections as members of earlier civilizations did, in their case under conditions that required collaboration to survive, for example, the elements. Going it alone was always hard and still is.

So being an anti-racism linguist is working together, respecting human dignity and upholding the great bond that exists between language and identity, language and belonging, and language and respect. I hope you will join us in traveling through this new line of enquiry and reflection. I hope you will take a minute to appreciate the richness of human experience through language and consider the ways we can help safeguard it together.

Patricia Friedrich

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Antisocial Language Teaching by JPB Gerald.

From Pre-service to Retirement: The Wellbeing of Language Teachers across the Career Span

This month we published Language Teacher Wellbeing across the Career Span by Giulia Sulis, Sarah Mercer, Sonja Babic and Astrid Mairitsch. In this post the authors introduce the book’s themes and explain what inspired them to write it.

What is wellbeing? What characterises the wellbeing of language teachers across the different phases of their career? How can language teacher wellbeing be supported at these different stages of their career? These and many other questions are explored in our new book based on a large-scale funded research project, Language Teacher Wellbeing across the Career Span.

Teaching is one of the most stressful professions. For language teachers, there are potentially unique additional challenges, such as language anxiety, energy-intense methodologies, and the status of languages and language teaching. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, these challenges have been exacerbated. Language educators across the globe are facing increasing levels of stress, ultimately resulting in high rates of attrition and burnout. Our book was inspired by our wish to further understand not only the factors influencing teachers’ wellbeing, but also what can be done in practice to support language educators to thrive and teach to the best of their abilities.

One key premise of our book is that each phase of a language teacher’s career is characterised by distinctive challenges and resources which shape their wellbeing. Across their professional lives, teachers experience different issues that may threaten their wellbeing. For example, the challenges experienced by a novice teacher will differ from those of an experienced teacher who is approaching retirement. However, research tends to typically focus only on understanding the lives of pre-service and early career teachers. In this book, we attempt to paint a picture of the challenges and resources of language teachers at all phases of their career, from pre-service education to late-career.

If you are a language teacher, a teacher educator, or a researcher interested in language teachers’ multifaceted lives, we believe that this book may be for you!

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Teachers of Multiple Languages by Eric K. Ku.

Connecting SLA Research and Instructed Second Language Acquisition

This month we published Psycholinguistic Approaches to Instructed Second Language Acquisition by Daniel R. Walter. In this post the author reveals the questions answered in the book and who it is for.

As second language acquisition (SLA) researchers and educators have likewise expressed, there is a significant gap between research in SLA and its application by teachers, educators, and curriculum developers. This gap not only exists in terms of the amount of communication and knowledge transmission between researchers and educators, but also how research should be used to inform pedagogical choices. This book is an attempt to remedy some of those issues by making direct connections between the lab and classroom, the researcher and educator, and broad spectrum of psycholinguistic research into language learning and the complex learning environment in which the language learner takes part.

Taking a psycholinguistic approach, this book explores the connections between SLA research and instructed second language acquisition (ISLA). Some of the questions I answer for colleagues at multiple levels of research an instruction include: What is the role of consciousness in second language (L2) learning? What are the underlying psycholinguistic mechanisms that support L2 learning? How can an understanding of these processes impact the way we teach languages, from early L2 learners through post-secondary students? And how can cutting-edge research in psycholinguistics and SLA inform the way we design learning over the course of a curriculum?

In writing this book, I hoped it might find a home not only with fellow SLA researchers, but also with educators at multiple levels; from those teaching in immersion programs in kindergartens and elementary schools, to those teaching at the post-secondary level. And also, that the knowledge contained and presented in this book would be useful for teachers from the first day of a new language class, all the way through the most advanced levels of instruction.

For teachers, it provides clear connections between psycholinguistic research and its implications for the language learning classroom, with straightforward methods and recommendations to support student language learning and development. It can function as an important tool for pedagogues, especially those entrusted with training future teachers and providing professional development to current teachers, who can see how the different activities, with which they already engage inside their classes, apply to the psycholinguistic development of their students.

And finally, I hope this book also impacts the field of (I)SLA in general. First, it could act as a catalyst for more teacher/scholars to make explicit connections between theory, findings, and practice in the space of second language learning. And secondly, and maybe more importantly, for researchers and educators to find places to connect, to bring about a deeper discussion at the personal and professional level, about how those who may lean more towards theory or towards praxis can come together to build a deeper understanding of our applied field of ISLA.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Complexity Perspectives on Researching Language Learner and Teacher Psychology edited by Richard J. Sampson and Richard S. Pinner.

Native Speaker Bias in Japan

We recently published Language Ideologies and L2 Speaker Legitimacy by Jae DiBello Takeuchi. In this post the author explains the concepts of language ideologies, native speaker bias and speaker legitimacy explored in the book.

The number of foreign residents in Japan has been steadily increasing, but this increase has not been accompanied by an increase in social inclusion. On the contrary, both anecdotal accounts and official government surveys document increasing discrimination, including housing and workplace discrimination as well as hate speech directed at foreigners. These issues mirror the experiences of immigrants and migrant workers around the world. While the details differ from place to place and country to country, a common thread is the difficulty faced by foreigners, often treated as cultural others, as they try to make connections in a new location, using a new language.

Although Japanese language learners are studied extensively, studies tend to focus on classroom contexts, so I wrote this book to examine the linguistic experiences of second language speakers of Japanese who live and work in Japan. I conducted an ethnographic interview study with 50 participants, including first and second language (L1 and L2) speakers of Japanese. Through extensive interviews and participant observations, I learned about challenges faced by L2-Japanese speakers living in Japan and speaking Japanese in their workplace and social relationships.

I take language ideologies as my starting point. Language ideologies refer to beliefs and opinions people have about language, language use and speakers. These beliefs are often unexamined, or even unconscious, but they can have significant impacts on the linguistic choices people make. With regard to Japanese, there is a lot to choose from! All languages have speech styles or registers, but Japanese is well-known for having some speech styles that present particular challenges to learners. For example, keigo, the system of polite and honorific language, requires speakers to decide whether or how much they will use polite verb forms or honorific expressions. But choices about how to speak are never neutral and are always entwined with beliefs about correct or appropriate ways to use the language.

When the speaker is an L2 speaker, linguistic choices are complicated by language ideologies about L2 ability – with regard to Japanese, beliefs about the uniqueness of Japanese and the unique difficulty of it, lead to expectations that non-Japanese will be unable to master the language. This is an example of native speaker bias, which refers to a collection of ideas about speakers and languages. A key part of native speaker bias is that native speakers are depicted as perfect speakers, and language is depicted as a homogenous, bounded unit. Both of these ideas overlook the significant linguistic diversity found across speakers and across and within languages.

For L2-Japanese speakers in Japan, native speaker bias means that their attempts to use Japanese are likely to be met with surprise, resistance, or worse. The upshot is that L2 speakers may find that what they are saying gets ignored at the expense of how they are saying it. An example of this is when an L2 speaker says something, and an L1 speaker responds by commenting on the L2 speaker’s Japanese usage, accent, or other aspects focused on the form of speech rather than the content. When this happens regularly, the result is a denial of the L2 speaker’s legitimacy as a speaker. Speaker legitimacy refers to the right to speak and be heard and is an essential ingredient for L2 speakers to make connections in their L2 communities.

My book introduces the linguistic experiences of L2-Japanese speakers and centers the discussion of native speaker bias around beliefs about Japanese speech styles. I argue that the absence of speaker legitimacy – for example, being on the receiving end of unwanted attention for how one speaks – results in negative messages that to be an L2 speaker in Japan is to be a linguistic other, an outsider. At its core, this is what the absence of speaker legitimacy entails, and without it, the ability of L2 speakers to integrate into local communities is diminished. It is for this reason, I would argue, that a crucial component of linguistic human rights is that all speakers have full access to the linguistic repertoire of whatever language they are speaking. This is what allows us to go beyond being L2 speakers to being, simply, speakers.

Jae DiBello Takeuchi, Clemson University, South Carolina, USA

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like International TESOL Teachers in a Multi-Englishes Community by Phan Le Ha and Osman Z. Barnawi.

A Genuine Exploration of Cross-contextual Research on Multilingualism

This month we published Policy and Practice for Multilingual Educational Settings edited by Siv Björklund and Mikaela Björklund. In this post the editors explain how the book came about.

Back in 2013, some researchers from Åbo Akademi University and Vaasa University in Finland decided it was time to gather a team of international scholars together to explore the cross-professional nature of individual, professional, organisational, and societal multilingualism. One of the results was a simple visualisation of the natural and cross-professional nature, as well as additive potential of multilingualism.

Initially, there was no plan for the network to publish, but over the years and as part of the discussions on a shared research agenda, the network members expressed a genuine interest in applying the thoughts brought forth in the network. During a writers’ workshop, network members with similar interests, representing different contexts, were paired up to explore the cross-contextual and -professional perspectives in a concrete publication project.

Some of the joint efforts have resulted in articles published in various fora. For a number of the joint efforts, mainly focusing on multilingualism from the perspective of education, including policy, practices and teacher training, the aim was to provide a volume containing a range of cross-contextual studies. At least one initial network member has been part of the cross-contextual writers’ teams.

Thanks to Multilingual Matters and the Bilingual Education & Bilingualism series this has now been made possible. As editors, we are proud to present this volume – called Policy and Practice for Multilingual Educational Settings: Comparisons across Contexts  ̶  which we hope will contribute to the further development of the cross-professional and -contextual research on multilingualism.

Mikaela Björklund and Siv Björklund

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Multilingualism in European Language Education edited by Cecilio Lapresta-Rey and Ángel Huguet.

How is Third Language Acquisition Different from Second Language Acquisition?

This month we published Teaching and Learning Third Languages by Francesca D’Angelo. In this post the author explains what inspired her to write the book and what readers can expect from it.

Driven by a true passion for modern foreign languages, as a learner, teacher and researcher, I gained experience in teaching from secondary school to PhD level. What prompted me to write this book was the desire to convey the advantages of multilingual education to teachers, educators and language learners from different points of view: cognitive, linguistic and pedagogical. The work highlights the potential benefits of different types and levels of bilingualism, considering the effects of contexts of instruction, amount of exposure and method of acquisition of each language involved, challenging the idealised monolingual approach of language teaching. Language teachers, educators, learners and researchers dealing with multilingual education will particularly appreciate:

1) The broader, interdisciplinary approach of investigation of the phenomenon of bilingualism with a specific focus on the peculiar profile of additional language learners, making Third Language Acquisition a different area of research from Second Language Acquisition. Starting with a theoretical, introductive insight into bilingualism research conducted in different contexts across time, it questions the most widespread prejudices towards bilingual education and bilingualism, including confusion, language impairment and cognitive deficit, discussing the most prominent studies which demonstrate the benefits of bilingualism from a teaching and learning perspective.

2) The different implicit and explicit routes of acquisition available to language learners with practical examples of multilingual practice selected from the latest and most influential projects implemented worldwide. A critical discussion of the way each method of acquisition affects the development of different types and degrees of Metalinguistic Awareness (MLA) is presented. More specifically, the academic debate regarding the non-unitary nature of this fundamental factor (i.e. cognitive or linguistic? Implicit or explicit?) and how it may facilitate and foster performance in additional languages.

3) The focus on the multilingual learner approach, rather than on the target language(s) with a native-like competence to achieve that has traditionally characterised multilingual education. Teachers and educators are presented as “connecting growers” with practical examples of innovative educational practices, in particular translanguaging, to fully exploit and give voice to all the multilingual and multicultural resources available in the classroom. The multilingual practices propounded and discussed aim at creating connections between languages, inviting teachers to resort to the whole multilingual background of the language learners. This could foster the process of teaching and learning third (or additional) languages, not only in terms of broader linguistic repertoire and linguistic skills already developed but also in terms of learning strategies, multicultural, and multisemiotic awareness.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Preparing Teachers to Work with Multilingual Learners edited by Meike Wernicke, Svenja Hammer, Antje Hansen and Tobias Schroedler.