Users of two or more languages may mediate in their everyday life, but why are some more successful than others? How do effective mediators (or cross-languagers) achieve specific communication goals? What techniques and language tools do they use? What strategies differentiate successful from less successful mediators? These are some of the questions addressed in this book which sheds new light on the mechanisms of cross-language mediation.
Being concerned with the purposeful relaying of information from one language to another, this book considers mediation as a form of translanguaging, a language practice which involves interplay of linguistic codes. Retaining his/her own identity and participating at the same time in two (or more) cultures, the role of mediator is to make the target audience understand information that otherwise would be impossible for them to understand. The mediator is not considered as a neutral third party but as an active participator in the communicative encounter, and his/her role is socially valuable.
The research project has generally been motivated by a broader need to contribute towards a multilingual approach to language teaching and testing still dominated by monolingual paradigms. The exploration of the ways in which foreign language learners’ mother tongue(s) could be used constructively for the teaching and learning of languages, and the way to develop skills and effective strategies so as to mediate and translanguage successfully was of no real concern to mainstream English Language Teaching (ELT). As the book draws readers’ attention to the fluid boundaries between languages, current ‘English-only’ policies may be rethought in light of the findings reported.
The ‘mingling-of languages’ idea
This book raises readers’ awareness regarding the ‘mingling-of languages idea’ in teaching and testing, an idea which can actually be realised through mediation activities and which can ultimately promote multilingualism. In a nutshell, based on empirical evidence, this book
ultimately stresses the urgent need for foreign language policies to consider cross-language mediation as a fundamental ability that language learners need to develop,
advocates the implementation of programmes aiming at the development of translanguaging literacy and
concludes by pointing to the role of testing in the effort to support multilingualism.
Who may find this book useful?
As the author of this book, my hope is that it will be used by (in-service and pre-service) teachers, curriculum designers, syllabus and material developers, teacher trainers, language testers, policymakers, but also by future researchers in the field of multilingualism, multilingual testing and foreign language learning as a comprehensive guide to important current language issues.
This month we are publishing a new, revised edition of Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony’s textbook Teaching Languages Online. In this post, the authors tell us how the book has evolved since the first edition.
We hear a lot from online teachers and students about the liberating aspect of anytime and anywhere instruction, especially the teaching and learning that happens right before you drift off to sleep and/or when you first wake in the morning. Having your courses literally ‘at hand’ while horizontal between the covers means being infinitely more relaxed than you would be in a live classroom. This is an aspect of language learning that is often cited as additive to second language acquisition processes. For teaching also, a relaxed state can be productive for thinking and perspective-taking regarding your classes. In short, teaching and learning between the covers can be viewed as both pleasurable and productive.
The new edition of our book, Teaching Languages Online, acknowledges what we like to call this ‘between the covers’ advantage of 100% mobility. In keeping with this view, the text’s instructional models, activities and methods are consistently situated in the contemporary mobile lives of teachers and students.
Have a look at the cover of our first edition where students sit in front of desktops.
Compare this to the cover of our new edition and you will observe this shift in orientation. And, throughout these revised and updated chapters you will see that while mobility brings liberation, it is not without related teaching responsibilities regarding student focus, attention, and accountability, each of which is strategically attended to throughout.
In this new edition, you will also experience forms of teaching and learning commensurate with 3D immersive environments that, like mobility, bring their own special edge and flavor to instructional conversations.
Whether it’s between the covers or on the run, our aim is that the foundations, skills and strategies presented in our updated book will not only shape you into an excellent online practitioner, but also bring you the pleasure and satisfaction of professionalism in the online world of language education.
For more information about the book please see our website and to order an inspection/desk copy for the course you are teaching please fill in the form here.
This week we published Kate Mastruserio Reynolds’ book Approaches to Inclusive English Classrooms which attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice to prepare teachers for the needs of English language learners (ELL). In this post, she gives us some background to the book.
“Greetings all, I am the ESL Department chair at NAME High School in CITY, TX, which is located in the largest refugee neighborhood in the city. Our current enrollment is 61% ELL, but we expect to be more than 70% ELL next year, so we are looking to expand our team. We have a diverse mix of students from all over South Asia, Africa, and Latin America, many with limited or interrupted schooling. We are looking specifically for TESOL or CELTA certified teachers with experience teaching teens or adults, and ideally with experience teaching English for Academic Purposes or for Specific Purposes, as most of our ESL classes are content support classes (English for Science, English for Math, etc.).”
This job announcement posted today on a jobs list might sound like gibberish for many pre-service educators or teachers just entering the job market. The knowledge of English as a second language (ESL) that inform this advert start with the acronyms, ESL, ELL, TESOL, CELTA and advance to ‘English for Academic Purposes and for Specific Purposes’ and ‘ESL classes are content support classes (English for Science, English for Math, etc.)’ Although this position is for an ESL specialist, increasingly content area educators (i.e. teachers of Math, Sciences, Social Studies/History, Literature and Language Arts) are called upon to work with learners whose first language is not English.
By 2050, US national statistics indicate that English language learners (ELLs) will be the majority of learners in the US K-12 public schools. Not only are many educators not adequately prepared for this change in the demographics of our school system, neither is our teacher preparation system. Pre-service teachers, those in the process of gaining teacher licensures at universities, rarely are provided any information or training on the ELLs they will encounter in their professional work. Many in-service teachers are confronted by this lack of preparation and need to gain more professional preparation in the field of ESL in order to sufficiently meet the unique linguistic needs of the second language learners.
It is not an easy fix. There is a lot to ‘sufficiently meet the unique linguistic needs’ of second language learners. Teachers cannot simply make one change to their instruction, like using cooperative learning, in order to scaffold instruction for ELLs. First, teachers need to be aware of how they communicate with students. They need to become culturally knowledgeable about the learners’ cultures and strive to make their own speech comprehensible to the language learners. Second, they need to be able to teach the skills of language—speaking, listening, reading and writing—as well as grammar and vocabulary. I’m not talking about the traditional grammar translation method here either. Teachers need to be savvy in their use of time to situate grammar into the content material they are teaching. For example, they need to teach how to write using regular past tense (–ed form) when describing the accomplishments of ancient China in Social Studies class.
Several models and methodologies to approaching the instruction of ELLs have emerged in the field of ESL/EFL, called content-based instruction (CBI). All these models (CALLA, SIOP, RtI, etc.) focus on various ways to engage ELLs and teach them content and language simultaneously. No one method is a cure all. All of them have their advantages and drawbacks. Some of them were developed for specific contexts and populations, such as the ExC-ELL model that emphasizes academic literacy for a non-native speaking population who have strong oral proficiency skills in English. Knowing which methods to employ and when with which population is one way that I would like to empower K-12 educators.
As co-editors, we were brought together by the passion we shared for the concepts of identity and agency in our individual research and publications. We have all, for example, published monographs on agency in second language acquisition. Although we embrace different theoretical perspectives, we have all come to understand that these constructs are inherently sociocultural and interdisciplinary.
The notion of human agency has generated considerable debate among scholars across disciplines for the past few decades. This scholarly conversation regarding how to understand humans’ capacity to act shows no signs of abating. We see the growing emphasis on learner agency as part of a broader shift in second language research toward exploring learners as complex individuals whose language use, meaning making and actions are mediated by their social and cultural worlds.
Leading scholars in the field have lamented the lingering under-theorization of agency and even the lack of a clear definition. The difficulty of translating theories about agency into practice is especially challenging when it comes to language instruction. We, therefore, recognized the need for a comprehensive collection of chapters dedicated to filling these gaps. This volume provides strong individual chapters, but when read as a whole, it demonstrates that a concept as complex as learner agency can never be fully grasped from a single theoretical perspective or by adopting a single set of analytic or pedagogical practices. The volume brings together innovative and critical research on the elusive concept of agency and shows how theory and empirical findings can be implemented into pedagogical practices that support learner agency or enable learner agency to emerge in various learning contexts.
Our hope is that this first comprehensive edited book on agency in the fields of applied linguistics and second language acquisition will serve as a key reference for language learning and teaching researchers. It could be used as a textbook in graduate courses and will be especially useful in courses examining social factors in language learning. Because it attempts to bridge theory with practical implications for the classroom, we hope that teacher educators and practitioners will find it valuable as well.
Despite the fact that there is an abundance of self-related research studies nowadays, we think that our book managed to carve out a unique niche in the field of Applied Linguistics for a number of reasons. Firstly, we provide an up-to-date and easy-to-follow theorerical background to self-related investigations. Secondly, we contribute to the discussion by publishing original empirical studies on self-related topics concerning both students and teachers. Thirdly, we have included the results of several intervention studies that looked into the classroom and investigated in what ways students can be motivated to learn by developing their selves. Last but not least, we also provide insight into how the self-concept may be researched in the future by outlining the most promising avenues.
As the editors of this book, we were inspired to create a volume on the impact of self-concept on language learning by Professor Zoltán Dörnyei. This volume deals with the following major themes: 1. Second language learning motivation and its relation to vison and mental imagery. 2. The relationship of one’s self and one’s network. 3. The impact of self on self-regulation and autonomy. 4. Age-related differences in self. 5. The development of students’ identities in various contexts including Europe, Canada, Asia and Australia. 6. The dynamically changing motivation of teachers. 7. The strengthening of students’ ideal self and motivation through different intervention programmes.
We sincerely believe that our collection of chapters clarifies the meaning of various self-constructs in order to highlight how the self-constructs may be researched. It also specifically focuses on research that illustrates the effects of self-concept on language learning including the practical applications of the research findings in order to motivate language learners.
Having just published Measuring L2 Proficiency edited by Pascale Leclercq, Amanda Edmonds and Heather Hilton, we asked the editors to tell us a little bit more about how the book came about.
As all teachers, trainers and researchers know, assessment in any field and for any type of knowledge or skill can be difficult. For the person being assessed, performance can vary as a function of time of day, moment during the test, individual characteristics, and so on. On the side of the assessor, not every aspect of a given skill can be feasibly tested. Thus, performance on specific items or questions is generally intended to provide the assessor with a general idea of an assessee’s abilities. Most testing situations are thus required to assume that performance as measured with assessment tool X at time t is representative of general ability for a given skill or set of knowledge. However, as both teachers and students can attest, this assumption is often problematic.
Within the field of second language acquisition, proficiency assessment is a necessary building block for almost any research project. However, it has received relatively little direct attention. For example, institutional proficiency level (e.g., first year university students versus third year university students) are assumed to reflect a difference in language proficiency. Although we, as teachers, certainly hope that this is the case, most research projects do not attempt to verify this assumption, meaning that claims of development made in such studies are open to questioning.
As language teachers and researchers interested in how individuals acquire language, we have long been interested in assessment practices in both the language classroom and in the field of second language acquisition. In both contexts, a learner is on their way to acquiring a second language, a highly complex skill involving both knowledge of the new language and the ability to use it (involving both automatic and controlled processes). Assessing such a complex skill has long been recognized as a difficult enterprise. Our book grew out of challenges that we have personally encountered in both teaching and research contexts. We wanted to bring together researchers working in both of these contexts in order to reflect on how to create valid, reliable but also feasible assessment tools for language teachers and researchers alike.
We were pleased to be able to support Professor Bob Kaplan in attending the Applied Linguistics Interest Section (ALIS) at TESOL this year in Portland. Here, Eli Hinkel, Chair of ALIS 2013-2014, tells us a bit about the background to ALIS.
ALIS turned 40 this year, and it is the oldest interest section (IS) in TESOL. This was a major benchmark that was celebrated during the TESOL Convention in Portland, Oregon, USA. In its current form and as an Interest Section of TESOL, ALIS dates back to 1974, and its original early members included Robert B. Kaplan and Bernard Spolsky. At the time, ALIS served as the only applied linguistics venue for pedagogical and research activities in the United States. During the ALIS Open Meeting in Portland, around 50 IS members and guests took part in a bit of a reception to mark this important event and partake in cookies and soft drinks, provided by TESOL. We clanked our plastic drink containers and celebrated in earnest.
To mark the occasion, Robert B. Kaplan graciously accepted our invitation to join us. Professor Kaplan received a commemorative plaque to celebrate his four decade-long service to the profession and the association. Marianne Celce-Murcia’s well-crafted and carefully presented remarks to highlight Professor Kaplan’s numerous professional achievements and contributions were warmly received.
Later, Professor Kaplan made a presentation titled “What Teachers Need to Know: ‘I’ve Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like’.” The point of the talk was to emphasize that when teaching a language to students from another culture, it is essential for instructors to be aware of the ways in which the target language has been shaped by its speakers. Furthermore, speakers of some other languages, equally, have been shaped by their first languages. In this light, if the learners are unfamiliar with the shape of metaphors in the target language and if the teachers are unaware of the gap thus created, teaching becomes an unnecessarily difficult undertaking. Success in language teaching, however, is more likely when metaphors and other linguistic devices are addressed in teacher-preparation courses, which can be revised to include the work with metaphors that are needed for both teaching and learning.
Our thanks also goes to Tommi Grover and Multilingual Matters for helping us organize our reunion with Robert B. Kaplan on this momentous occasion. Thank you.
We look forward to ALIS’s next 40 years in the business.
Ahead of the publication of Multiple Perspectives on the Self in SLA next month, we asked its editors, Sarah Mercer and Marion Williams, a few questions about the book and their experiences working on the project.
Could you tell us a bit about where the idea for the book came from?
Sarah: I’ll perhaps respond to this as it is partly a result of my personal journey that has brought us to this point. Whilst I was doing my PhD on self-concept in foreign language learning, I became aware of the vast number of constructs in the field. In discussing my work with others, I often found myself having to explain the different nature of self constructs and ‘defend’ my choice of construct. However, the more I work in this area, the more acutely aware I become of the vastness of the self and, hence, the more humble I become about what I feel we can know and understand about learners’ and teachers’ sense of self in respect to language learning and teaching. Although we perhaps tend to have a preferred way of viewing things, we both feel it is important to respect a diversity of views on the self. Rather than feeling that one perspective is inherently superior or ‘more valid’ than another, we feel it is more important to appreciate how different perspectives can each contribute a piece of the puzzle towards a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of self in SLA. We thus felt a book was needed that brought different perspectives together.
What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
Marion: As Sarah explained, many books on the self consider it from a single particular perspective. Our aim with this book was to bring together multiple different perspectives in one volume to facilitate an overview and help make salient where interconnections between perspectives may exist and how they may complement each other. We were keen not to specify how or in what ways the self should be conceptualised and/or researched by the contributors, as we deliberately wanted to explore the diversity of perspectives on self. As we conclude in the book, the self is so complex and vast that we feel it cannot possibly be explained by one single theory or perspective. Instead, we believe that the field will ultimately benefit from engaging with multiple perspectives.
This is not the first book that you two have edited together, how did you first come to work together?
We actually first worked together back in 2007 when we worked on a symposium for IATEFL on language learning psychology. Building on our shared interests, we then went on to co-edit a book in 2012 together with our colleague Stephen Ryan entitled “Psychology for Language Learning” published by Palgrave Macmillan. It was the first time that the three of us had worked together and we found the experience positive and stimulating and we learnt a lot from each other in the process. So much so, that we are currently working on another book project together. Although other commitments prevented Stephen from joining us in editing this collection, we were delighted that he contributed a chapter to the book with a colleague and we are very grateful to him for his help in the indexing – a skill we knew he had from our last book together. We have found working in a team to be such a rewarding and enriching experience that we are sure it won’t be our last project together.
So, what is your next research (or other!) project?
We are already working on our next book, jointly with Stephen Ryan, again in the field of psychology in language learning. We mostly work with each other online with regular Skype sessions, but sometimes we find the chance to work together at Sarah’s house in the hills of Austria, which aides our productivity! We are also all involved in a conference Sarah is organising at her home university entitled “Matters of the Mind: Psychology and Language Learning”. Within the conference, we will be promoting this book and there will also be a symposium on the self in SLA run by Sarah and involving several contributors to the collection. So, plenty to keep us busy!
Finally, you have chosen an unusual piece of artwork for the cover – can you tell us a bit more about the artist and why you thought it relevant?
Marion: For some time I have been an admirer of the works of Desmond Morris, the UK’s renowned surrealist, with their strong colours and powerful images. I have attended his exhibitions in Oxford and talked to him about his work. When it came to choosing an image for our cover, I had the idea of asking this great artist if we could use one of his paintings as many of the themes link to psychology – indeed, he generously allowed us to use one of his paintings for our previous book. When I approached him again in respect to this book on the self in SLA, to my surprise and delight, he agreed again. We think the image makes a fantastic cover and we’re thrilled with it.
A couple of months ago, we published Language Learning Motivation in Japan edited by Matthew T. Apple, Dexter Da Silva and Terry Fellner. Here Matthew gives us a bit more detail about how the book came together.
Language Learning Motivation in Japan began to coalesce as a feasible book project during preparations for a conference in Tokyo, in June 2011. We had already contacted and arranged for guest speakers from both inside and outside Japan, and all six graciously offered to contribute chapters to the book project.
Ultimately the conference attracted over 200 participants from around the world. Given the difficulties those of us based in Japan had recently experienced following the triple disaster of 3-11-11, it was extremely motivating to encounter so many dedicated language teachers and researchers. After the conference ended and the book project began in earnest, the response was overwhelming. We initially received well over 50 chapter abstracts but narrowed this down to eleven chapters to be included in the book.
We asked the authors to review each others’ chapters and encouraged them to refer to similar or contrasting concepts and findings in other studies in the book. By doing so, we believe the resulting book presents a clear, coherent snapshot of language motivation at various levels of education in Japan. Chapters touch upon salient issues related to motivation such as autonomy, cultural and personal identity, self-efficacy, intercultural competence, communities of practice, and the role of the teacher.
A key feature of the book is the inclusion of a roughly equal number of studies implementing quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods data analysis techniques. The main reason for this was our desire to encourage SLA researchers to look beyond the stereotypical quantitative-qualitative false dichotomy that often paralyzes and prevents communication among researchers and teachers. By including studies from statistical modeling to in-depth interview case study to diary study, we hoped to convince readers, whether established researchers and teachers or those in training both inside and outside Japan, to view such research approaches as complementary rather than conflicting.
Finally, as editors who consider ourselves teacher-researchers, we were keenly aware of the gap that exists between those in the field of SLA who see themselves as more or less pure researchers and those who regard themselves as down-to-earth practitioners at the chalkface. In our view, the teacher-researcher divide is just as much a false dichotomy as qual-quan. Both roles and both ways of approaching language education are essential: they are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. We therefore encouraged authors to consider how their research could inform practice in the language classroom, and we hope the results will prove useful from both a pedagogical and a theoretical point of view.
While the research is tightly focused on language learning in Japan, we believe that teachers and researchers around the world will find value in every chapter. This focus, rather than reducing the applicability of the findings, further illustrates the multifaceted, dynamic, nuanced, and incredibly complex world of language learner motivation, and also brings up intriguing questions regarding the influence of “culture” on learners’ attitudes. Additionally, much recent world news about Japan has been rather negative: we hope that the research and teaching theories, research, and practices discussed in Language Learning Motivation in Japan provide positive examples of an active, growing community of language learners and educators.
For more information on this title and for ordering information, please visit the book’s page on our website here.
We are both teachers at heart, so in many ways this is the book we’ve always wanted to write as it combines a meaningful review of theory and practical applications for teachers. As university professors, we feel fortunate to have jobs (and the inner passion) that inspire us to combine teaching and research, to play with ideas for a living; it really is a match made in heaven. We have found that most teachers, at every level of the education system, are at their creative best when they play with ideas, apply theory to specific cases, look for new approaches to age old questions, and have enough background information to get their creative juices flowing. This process fires their enthusiasm, which ultimately engages learners even more!
This book offers a chance for teachers and learners to play, apply, discover and let their imaginations flow. We don’t get into esoteric theoretical debates or outline the historical positions within this or that school of thought. Our book is made for teachers who are curious about what makes their students tick. Parker Palmer, in his book The Courage to Teach, says that: “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” After all, it is teachers who know their students best, and good teachers bring with them training in a background of theory and methodology to really apply and test concepts. We firmly believe that teachers who seek to actualize the potential of their students benefit from suggestions for activities to try, the reasons why they should work, and then the courage to go for it in real life, to succeed or fail with integrity. Master teachers are born to teach and their passion for reaching their learners at their deepest, emotional and individual levels emanates from their souls. Given the experimentation that goes on in every good classroom, we believe that all teachers are active researchers, open to new ideas and constantly asking “what if?”
Peter’s Journey: The writing process was more fun than most readers of the blog can imagine. When Tammy first asked me to join her in writing this book, I had said that I did not have the time – too many other items pressing for attention. But I was intrigued and wanted to help. So, initially I was a consultant of sorts, a sounding board for ideas. As we went along, usually talking at length over Skype or in exchanging documents, I came to see the awesome potential of the project more and more. Tammy’s approach to teaching and learning is very similar to mine – we both see students as individuals, with hopes and fears, dreams of the future and a collection of unique past experiences. The idea of the perfect teaching method, a ‘one size fits all’ solution in the classroom, is quite foreign to both of us. So as we went along sharing research and theory for this and other projects, and tossing around ideas about how to teach, how to find what students are capable of doing, it became very clear to me that at some point, I had already joined the project. I was hooked! So before too long the informal became formal and my wife Anne and I found ourselves near a lake in Northern Iowa, with Tammy and her husband, Mario, ready to sign a contract with Multilingual Matters. Signing the contract was easy – the book was already written!
Tammy’s Journey: Carl Jung once wrote, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Through our book, we may have provided a bit of what Jung called the “necessary raw material” but it will be up to you, our fellow teachers, to touch your learners’ human feelings and provide the warmth to grow their souls. Working (…well, more like “playing”) with Peter in the sandbox called Skype was a real hoot! Our collaboration never really felt like “work” to me. We often felt like we were in each other’s heads (a much more dangerous place for Peter than me!), tossing around ideas and laughing a lot. Not only do I think that the wedding of theory with practice was a match made in heaven, but so too was Peter’s psychological bent with my applied linguistics leanings.
Peter reminisced in his journey about the way that we – together with our spouses – got together in Iowa as a culminating event where we jointly signed our contract. I also have fond memories of the initiation of our first collaborative efforts when Mario and I traveled to Cape Breton. I will never forget lounging in the Governor’s Pub in Sydney, Nova Scotia with Peter and Anne, the evening we first discussed the idea of this book. “Busy Betty” was sitting at the next table intently (and yes, somewhat impolitely) listening, scrutinizing what Mario and Peter were talking about, bent over and scribbling equations on a piece of paper as they excitedly discussed the dynamic complexity and physics of emotion in language learning. To Betty’s L1 English ear, my husband’s accented English (he’s Chilean) sounded deeply suspect, so she strutted over wanting to know exactly what they were designing with all that math! Did they have sinister intentions? Were we all in danger? After a good laugh, she ended up joining our little party and gave us some great advice on what to put into our book! So here’s a big shout out to Betty and her insight!
This book has been one of the most tangible outcomes of our collaboration. Readers of the blog might also want to check out our virtual seminar for TESOL on December 4, 2013 called “Talking in order to learn.” We will be discussing some of the theory and activities found in the book. We hope you can join us live from wherever you happen to be. If you miss it, the webinar will be archived on the TESOL International site shortly after it is complete.
Finally, we must mention that we are so pleased and honoured that colleagues we deeply respect, Zoltan Dornyei and Andrew Cohen, agreed to help us by writing for the cover. Rebecca Oxford and Elaine Horwitz wrote a preface that told us we had found a sweet spot with the book. All of these people have earned their reputations as teachers and researchers; we thank them for their kind words and for taking the time to write them.
You can find further information about the book on our website.