Rose: Christmas Book Q&A

Part two of our Christmas book Q&A is a chat with Rose about making Christmas candy and The Night Before Christmas.

What is your favourite Christmas scene in a book?

Predictably, given they are my favourite childhood books, the Christmases depicted in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. There is a gorgeous bit in The Little House in the Big Woods when the sisters make Christmas candy from molasses, drizzling shapes in pans of snow to freeze.

One morning Ma boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa bought in two pans of clean white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams on to the snow. They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy. Laura and Mary might eat one piece each, but the rest were saved for Christmas Day.

Do you have any Christmas book traditions?

We have read The Night Before Christmas to Theo on Christmas Eve for the past 3 years so I guess we will keep doing that!

What book would you like to receive on Christmas day?

Well, if you are asking, the new Barbara Kingsolver, Unsheltered, please! 😉

Which book characters would you like to have Christmas dinner with?

I’d feel terribly disloyal if I said anyone other than Laura, Mary, Ma and Pa but for an entirely unique experience, I’d certainly accept an invite to dine with the Mortmains (I Capture the Castle)

Which book would you give as a Christmas present?

I’ve just bought my brother the new Michael Ondaatje, Warlight, but on the proviso that he lends it to me straight after he’s read it!

Favourite/least favourite book you read in 2018?

Perhaps controversially (and why I will never be a Booker judge!) but I’m just not getting on with Milkman. But I absolutely loved the new Markus Zuzak YA novel, Bridge of Clay. It is amazing and beautiful and heart wrenching. But a word of warning if you do read it, find a nice private place for the ending; read this on the bus and people might think you are having some kind of breakdown.

Tommi: Christmas Book Q&A

To celebrate the season we will be publishing a series of posts combining two of our favourite things – books and Christmas – in a festive book Q&A. Here’s the first one from Tommi…

What is your favourite Christmas scene in a book?

I think my favourite Christmas “scene” in a book is probably from Mauri Kunnas’ “Joulupukki” and is basically the whole book. It’s a lovely book explaining how the real Father Christmas’ operations work in Finland.

Do you have any Christmas book traditions?

Yes! As well as always getting and giving books for Christmas, when we sit down for our Finnish Christmas meal on the 24th December, mum always reads the “Jouluevankeliumi” from the Bible. I don’t really have a faith myself, but whether you are a believer or not, it’s a nice way to quieten down on for the Christmas meal. Once mum has finished reading, we turn the electric lights off and we have a quiet meditative moment before enjoying the food on the table.

What book would you like to receive on Christmas day?

Any book that someone has thought I might enjoy.

Which book characters would you like to have Christmas dinner with?

The aforementioned “Joulupukki” of course! It would mean that he definitely had visited my house, and I imagine he has a lot of stories to tell. And since he has the ability to slow time in order to reach everyone on Christmas eve, it would give me more time to eat and digest my food too…

Which book would you give as a Christmas present?

Another of Mauri Kunnas’ books “The Book of Finnish Elves”, which explains the rich variety of Finnish elves or “tonttu”. An elf is not just for Christmas, a fact that is often forgotten in the modern world.

Favourite/least favourite book you read in 2018?

I have a very short memory and I know I read some really good books earlier in the year, both in Finnish and English that I cannot remember. I am currently enjoying reading “Full Tilt” by Dervla Murphy, “Alone in Berlin” by Hans Fallada, and dipping in and out of the No Such Thing as a Fish “The Book of the Year 2017”. As for least favourite, I also have a selective memory and have forgotten the books I didn’t enjoy reading!

Plant a Seed and Hope it Grows: The Best Way to Help Your Child Become Bilingual

This month we published Household Perspectives on Minority Language Maintenance and Loss by Isabel Velázquez. In this post the author talks about her research on bilingual household dynamics in Latino families. 

¿Qué no haría uno por sus hijos? – What wouldn’t you do for your kids? This rhetorical question often comes up in conversations with Latino families in the community in which I live and conduct research. Regardless of ethnicity or cultural background, the narrative of parental self-sacrifice runs deep. In conversations with my university colleagues and other middle-class professionals, it often takes on the shiny packaging of meritocracy. In the kitchens and living rooms of the first-generation working-class families that have afforded me the privilege of learning about their experience, it comes with stories of geographical, social, and economic dislocation. Many of their themes are shared with those of other immigrant and refugee households in our city.

Separate one’s family, leave one’s country, learn a new language, start again, risk life and limb, work three jobs, brave the Nebraska cold at 5:00 am, deform the tendons in one’s right hand from the repetitive motion of cutting meat in an industrial line, make ends meet, make do, find a way. I want them to have an education. I want them to have more opportunities. I want them to get ahead in life.

Because I’m interested in how a minority language is lost or maintained in communities with low ethnolinguistic vitality for that language, most of the conversations I have with other Latino parents eventually arrive at the topic of intergenerational transmission of Spanish. Over the course of the past decade, I’ve yet to find a Latino mother or father who does not hold positive attitudes about their children’s development of bilingual skills.

And yet, in this, like in many other communities, positive attitudes toward Spanish are necessary, but insufficient to guarantee children’s development of their family language. Neither are parents’ level of education or economic standing.

In professional presentations and informal interactions, I am often approached by parents interested in finding the best resource to help their children become bilingual. A CD? An app? A book? A television series? A video game? As it happens, the best device to transmit language is an adult in possession of that ever-scarce commodity: attention. Attachment, nurturing, belonging, such are the fundamental ingredients of intergenerational transmission.

In my ideal world, every newborn would come with a four-word instruction: Forgive yourself; try again. Like all other dimensions of raising a healthy human, transmission of a family language happens at the messy junctions of everyday parenting.

Despite different circumstances and life experiences, analysis of bilingual household dynamics has allowed us to learn that families that are able to transmit Spanish to their children share three features: Quality and amount of exposure to the family language, opportunities for use, and relevance – the management, planning, and evaluation of the first two, it must be said, overwhelmingly falling on the mother.

No gardener plants once and expects results. Relevance of the family language for our children will only bloom years later, once they’ve formed their own networks away from the household. As parents, we plant, we weed, we water, and wait. We do not know if the seed of linguistic transmission will bear fruit. Do we ever?

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Bilingual Childcare by Victoria Benz.

From Syria to the UK: My First Year Insights as an International Student

This month we published International Students’ Challenges, Strategies and Future Vision by Anas Hajar. In this post the author talks about his own experiences as an international student in the UK.

My first study abroad experience dates back to 2009 when I joined a postgraduate programme in English language teaching at Warwick University in the UK. Like many international students who study abroad, I aspired to establish meaningful interactions with locals – interactions that go beyond commercial exchanges and small talk in student cafeterias. However, I ended up spending most of my free time with two Syrian fellows and some other international students from China, Greece and Italy.

The superficiality of my interactions with the British stemmed mainly from my little awareness of learning strategies that can help enhance sojourn outcomes. I had limited experience in technology to check the latest social and academic activities offered by Warwick University. In addition, academic study pressure was extremely high and my ultimate vision was to complete my academic requirements and expand my knowledge in my specialisation. I was afraid of failure and of letting family members down, since I was government-sponsored.

My perspective about the myth of the “native speaker” as the ideal teacher changed at the end of my Master’s degree programme. To my surprise, two tutors who inspired me in the programme were non-native speakers of English. They seemed to me quite aware of the needs of international students, probably because they themselves experienced first-hand the phenomenon of international students pursuing their academic studies abroad through the medium of English. The two tutors gave a clear vision about the taught modules and interesting materials. They also provided useful, detailed and timely feedback on my written work. My dissertation supervisor passed on effective strategies that helped me make my writing more critical and develop a new identity as a neophyte researcher.

In Middle Eastern countries, the youth rarely leave their family and live on their own before marriage. Studying abroad made me grow into a more independent person, since this was my first experience of living apart from my parents. I had to be responsible for my decisions. My personal independence was reinforced through endeavours to meet personal life needs, such as purchasing household goods, finding and cooking Middle Eastern food, opening a bank account and searching for prepaid SIM cards to make overseas calls.

I felt homesick especially during celebratory occasions in Syria. Nonetheless, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the gatherings organised by the University of Warwick Chaplaincy during Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr, in which Middle Eastern food was served and people from different nationalities met and exchanged experiences.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like The Strategy Factor in Successful Language Learning by Carol Griffiths.

Publishing Workshop, Lund University, Sweden, November 2018

In this post Sarah talks about her recent visit to Lund University in Sweden where she co-facilitated a publishing workshop.

Planning, Preparing and Publishing a Book Manuscript
Department of Service Management, Lund University, 21st November 2018
Facilitators: Dianne Dredge, Johan Edelheim and Sarah Williams
Organiser: Erika Andersson Cederholm

At the TEFI conference in June, Dianne Dredge asked me if I’d be interested in taking part in an event she was putting together designed to encourage academics who are new to book publishing. Fast forward five months and I was on my way to the Helsingborg campus of Lund University to help facilitate a publishing workshop on preparing a book proposal and manuscript!

Dianne’s vision for the day centred around helping each of the 12 participants develop a book idea and we started the day by everyone sharing the titles of the book they would most like to write. The workshop was split into two parts – the morning focused on understanding the publishing process and looking at different writing strategies. Johan shared his experiences of adapting his PhD thesis into a book (the bestselling Tourist Attractions) and all it can entail – and the main points to focus on when you embark on the rewriting process. The afternoon was more interactive, when we went in-depth into developing a proposal. The ultimate outcomes for the workshop were:

  • Strategies, tips and advice.
  • Inspiration through shared experience.
  • Build your ‘keep me grounded’ network.
  • A basic template of your proposal.
  • Feedback on your ideas.
  • A plan to get you started.

 

It was great that each participant enthusiastically and openly shared their ideas, and their writing motivations and challenges. As well as explaining the publishing process to everyone, I certainly learned a lot about authors’ processes when it comes to writing – things that I will definitely bear in mind next time I’m chasing someone for a late manuscript!

For the afternoon session on developing a proposal, Dianne had prepared a Lean Book Concept Canvas (an adaptation of a business model canvas – see the beautifully-illustrated jpeg below!) The idea for this was so the participants could develop their ideas in a more organic way before starting on the proposal template guidelines.

Lean Book Concept Canvas A3 new
Lean Book Concept Canvas

The book ideas that were pitched were strong and it was useful to be there on the spot to provide guidance (for me it was like having one of our in-house editorial meetings but where authors were present for face-to-face feedback!) on things like really thinking about who your audience is and reworking the title so it gives a good idea of what the book is about.

It was a great event to be part of thanks to Dianne’s overall vision and preparation for the day and Johan’s openness in sharing his experiences and sage advice. And to Erika Andersson Cederholm’s efficient organisation – including the fika and AW – wholeheartedly appreciated!

I had time on my return via Copenhagen for a fun visit to Tivoli Gardens with Dianne and one of the workshop participants, Giang Phi – though we didn’t manage a visit to Santa Claus this time round!

 

Dianne and I would like to hold this event elsewhere in the future – so watch this space!

Bilingualism Matters: The East of England Branch

Bilingualism Matters East of England is the newest UK addition to the Bilingualism Matters team and is based at the LaDeLi research centre at the University of Essex in Colchester. 

Bilingualism Matters is an international network of centres and information services run by experts on bilingualism and language learning. It was originally established at University of Edinburgh in 2008 by Professor Antonella Sorace and is now an official Centre in the school of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. Since then, more than 20 branches have opened in 13 different countries, including several EU member states, Israel, USA, and Norway.

The East of England branch, one of the three UK-based branches of Bilingualism Matters, was founded in March 2018 as a part of the Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi) at the University of Essex. This branch particularly focuses on promoting bilingualism across the lifespan, educating and encouraging the wider public to make informed decisions on bilingualism and language learning, and providing advice, consultancy, and information sessions about bilingual development for parents, teachers, nursery staff, and speech language therapists. Its outreach work is mainly set in East Anglia and London.

One of the most recent events organised by the branch was We are what we speak, an interactive workshop for children and adults held on 3rd November in Colchester as a part of the nationwide Festival of Social Science hosted by ESRC. Its purpose was to allow people to discover more about language and identity through a series of games and short talks hosted by lecturers and researchers in the field of language development from the University of Essex.

Dr Ella Jeffries at We are what we speak

Another recent event BM East of England was present at was the Language Show at the Olympia exhibition centre in London, where the branch staff promoted Bilingualism Matters as one of the language services offered at the University of Essex and in the region of East of England as a whole.

Karla Drpić (left) and Dr Coralie Hervé (right) from BM East of England with Professor Antonella Sorace (middle) from Bilingualism Matters’ Edinburgh headquarters

The staff at Bilingualism Matters East of England believe that bilingualism is for everyone, not just those who grew up in bilingual households, and that investing in language learning at school or nursery is a great chance to give children the best possible future. Therefore, they are open to providing accessible and informative talks about bilingualism and second language learning with community groups and parents’ associations, state-run primary and secondary schools, nurseries and early years centres, and private schools, colleges or venues based in London and East of England (Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk etc.). You can follow or contact them via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or e-mail.

10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Multilingualism

We recently published Twelve Lectures on Multilingualism edited by David Singleton and Larissa Aronin. In this post the editors reveal 10 things you might not have known about multilingualism…

  1. Are dogs multilingual?

    Multilingualism is a specifically human feature. Other species generally use only their own communication systems. Interesting exceptions are domesticated animals which learn to understand human instructions like sit, stay and whoa, as well as apes who have been taught the rudiments of sign language!

  1. The use of two or more languages by individuals almost certainly goes back to the very beginnings of humans’ experience of language and in today’s world is a feature of the profile of a majority of the world’s population.
  1. This latter fact is unsurprising when we consider the number of human languages in the world. Despite the yearly extinction of languages, estimations of this number typically revolve around 6,000 but dramatically increase as soon as we take into account non-standardized language varieties popularly known as “dialects”.
  1. “Thank you!” in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish

    Sometimes you do not even need to have learnt a language in order to understand it! “Receptive multilingualism” is a phenomenon which is common among speakers, of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, where mutual understanding is assured by the closeness of the languages in question. Within other language families too the phenomenon of language proximity facilitating understanding is fairly widespread.

  1. Very often, everyday communication and language-based reflection depend largely on neither one single language nor a person’s entire language repertoire. Instead, small sets of languages (two, three or four), labelled as “Dominant Language Constellations”, provide the principal resources for language use and mainly underlie patterns of language use.
  1. A multilingual may either acquire his/her languages together from infancy or may acquire them sequentially at different ages. A common cliché is that languages learnt beyond childhood will inevitably be condemned to remain at a low level of proficiency, but the reality is that very many adolescent and adult learners of additional languages do so well that they routinely pass for a native speakers of the languages in question.
  1. On the question of age and language acquisition it is also necessary to say that such acquisition also does not stop at any point in life. Our capacity to go on learning languages, including learning aspects of our native language, continues until the very end of our lives.
  1. Bilingualism and multilingualism (three +) are close, overlapping in many ways, but also seem to be significantly different from each other. There is little doubt that, with more experience in multilingual learning, additional language mechanisms develop that would not otherwise be there. These are important not only in language acquisition and teaching, but also in relation to dealing with multilingual communities.
  1. Multilinguals who (because of e.g. stroke or brain surgery) lose their languages have various patterns of recovering them. Recovery patterns in bilingual speakers can be parallel (when all languages improve at similar rates), differential (when one of the languages shows recovery but the others show less recovery or none at all), or selective (when the recovery of some languages comes before the recovery of others). There is also sometimes an incidence of blended recovery – when speakers lose control of their ability to keep their languages apart, and unintentional mixing of elements from their languages ensues. Finally, in antagonistic recovery, the language most available to the patient may change every few days.
  1. The question of whether there is – in a general sense – a “multilingual advantage” is a fraught one. It has been pointed out that the impressive linguistic skills possessed by polyglots sometimes coexist with inadequacies in other areas of life. It may be objected that such observations apply to a very small category of multilingual individuals. A better understanding of such cases may, however, contribute to a fuller and perhaps more broadly applicable sense of individual multilingual possibilities.

 

For more information about Twelve Lectures on Multilingualism please see our website.

What Does Language Learning Outside the Classroom Look Like?

This month we published Second Language Literacy Practices and Language Learning Outside the Classroom by Miho Inaba. In this post the author explains what inspired this study and how she carried out her research.

I first became interested in out-of-class language learning more than 10 years ago when I had just started my career as a teacher of Japanese at a university in Sweden. I vividly remember how in my very first week at the university, some of my students told me about their favourite Japanese pop culture, such as anime (Japanese cartoons), manga (Japanese comic books) and movies. It was shocking to me at that time – I wondered how they could know Japanese pop culture better than me even though they were on the opposite side of the planet. I was also surprised by the fact that they could speak Japanese even before completing beginner level. It all started from there.

I then started asking my students what they had done in Japanese outside the classroom and realised that almost all do something extra in Japanese alongside their classroom-based study. At the same time, I started wondering what I could do to support their study as a teacher of Japanese. This question motivated (and still motivates) me to dig into out-of-class language learning for my research.

One big challenge when conducting this research was to decide which data collection methods to use. Out-of-class literacy practices are usually ‘hidden’ from teachers, and students undertake such activities irregularly. The very nature of out-of-class language learning might make the research on this topic complicated. However, when considering the different data collection methods available, I came across the ‘diary study with photos’ method in several papers in the field of literacy studies. Visual information is crucial to be included because one feature of literacy in this digital age is its multimodality.

In the end, I decided to employ this diary study with photo method alongside interviews, and asked the participants to include visual information as much as possible, for example, screenshots of websites and photos of books that they had read. I also asked them to bring paper-based materials to class (e.g. their books and essays for the Japanese classes) if possible. In the interviews, I used such visual materials to trigger the students’ memory when they engaged in particular literacy activities in their diaries. They sometimes even used my computer to demonstrate how they utilised online tools and websites. I think this method enabled me to collect rich data in a less intrusive way than either observations or video recordings and also helped me to understand the contexts of their literacy practices.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Language Learner Autonomy by David Little, Leni Dam and Lienhard Legenhausen.

Finding Success in Online Teaching

This month we published Teaching Children Online by Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony. In this post the authors introduce their new book.

Online education continues to see a rise in popularity among school-age students who otherwise cannot or do not wish to attend brick and mortar schools. Our new book, Teaching Children Online, is a guide for new and practicing online teachers whose goal is to make optimal use of the medium to teach such students. To do so, we provide numerous illustrations of effective, conversation-based online instructional practices along with commentary on the rationale and mechanics of these interactions. Our goal is to support online teachers in mastering the affordances of the online medium.

Current debate regarding “regular and substantive” contact in online learning centers on the amount and quality of teacher interaction with students in online courses. Publishers and for-profit schools would like to automate as much online instruction as they can for obvious reasons: quality educators cost money where programmed instruction – digital texts with automated assessments that simulate instruction – are a one-time expense. In an effort to preserve the critical role of instructional conversation – asynchronous and synchronous communication with teachers, peers and area experts – educators continue to agitate for “regular and substantive contact” with online instructors as a fundamental right and responsibility. Our hope is that Teaching Children Online will support educators in designing effective instructional conversations and thereby engage learners in the best instruction possible.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like the authors’ previous book Teaching Languages Online.

Living with Languages in a Multilingual World

This month we published The Multilingual Reality by Ajit K. Mohanty. In this post the author talks about the inspiration behind the book. 

Pinky’s dreams had evaporated. She dreamt of touching the sky in her school; as her parents put her there, the glitter in their eyes was reassuring for Pinky. The Saora girl was an unstoppable chatterbox; her home language, Saora, was polka dotted by some Odia, Hindi, English and other languages as she grew up and moved out into her neighbourhood, the weekly market place and the tribal festivals. But a few days in school and she gradually lost her chatter. Her parents were sad that Pinky did not want to go to school. “I don’t understand the teacher, I don’t understand the books”, she told her mother.

I met Pinky’s father during a visit to set up our MLE Plus project in the local primary school selected by the Government of Odisha as a new multilingual education (MLE) school in Saora. He ventilated his agony over Pinky’s unwillingness to go to school, but, he said, he understood. As a child, he also ran way from his school because then he did not know Odia, the school language. I told him that the school will teach in Saora in Grade 1 from the next year. Pinky had lost a year but was happy to be back. During one of my visits to her class, when Pinky was in Grade 2, I was amazed to observe her telling a Saora story for nearly 11 minutes while her friends listened with attention. She was definitely enjoying her school in her own language, something that millions of children from indigenous, tribal, minor and minoritized (ITM) languages in the world are deprived of.

Despite large-scale international movement of people, languages are no longer considered a medley for an interesting colourful world – one full of cultural hues, diversity, linguistic rights and pride. Schools and states (and sometimes communities and parents) ensure that many native languages are not passed on to the next generation. In 1907, Roosevelt cautioned the immigrants into the US and said “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language”. Now the world seems to have limited room for languages except the few dominant ones.

The world seems to be losing its colour to the devouring supermarket culture with limited brands dominating – limited languages, limited cultures, limited varieties. The multitude of languages used by our ancestors are lost or are on the verge of extinction. It is a tough battle between “language hegemony and discrimination” and the promises of “the cultural and educational richness of living with languages”.

I grew up in a beautiful multilingual world where I had the freedom to move naturally and spontaneously between people and languages, unconcerned by any boundaries and infringements. I did not have to bother about my own inadequacies in the languages I encountered, nor did I have to count the languages I knew or did not know. I was taught in my mother tongue and was gradually introduced to other languages that I embraced. Levels of my competence in languages around me did not have to be judged.

I grew up with an understanding that, like our fingerprints and DNA, we are supposed to be unique and diverse – that one size fits all is an aberration and is limiting to our linguistic and cultural diversity. If that be the case, why should millions like Pinky be deprived of being educated through their Mother Tongue?

This book is an account of my journey as a researcher and a coparticipant in the multilingual world from the perspectives of the people and communities at the margins – people being forced into a less diverse and more insipid world. Through my book, I have sought to share the complexity, the agony and the beauty of living with languages in a multilingual world. My book handles concerns and issues that have confronted me and the questions prompted by my encounters with the ITM communities and their education. The issues necessarily go beyond the question of languages and transcend the borders of India, because they are tied to questions of power, the processes of domination and subordination in all societies. The specific themes in the book echo concerns from the ITM perspectives – both local and global. The themes reflect some interrelated aspects of what it means to live with languages in a multilingual society.

Multilingualism is not about languages; it is about life and living, about lifestyles, about world views. This is what I realised growing up with many languages around me. These languages made my lifestyle possible. They were not just part of my expressive and receptive experience as I moved across my social world, they combined to make this world for me. I certainly did and still do have a mother tongue but my total experience was never fragmented by my mother tongue and other tongues.

You can contact Ajit Mohanty with any questions and comments at the following email address: ajitmohanty@gmail.com.

For  more information about this book please see our website.