Talking About Global Migration

4 May 2016

This week we published Talking About Global Migration by Theresa Catalano which explores the narratives of 70 migrants and examines the language they use when talking about their experiences. Here, Theresa introduces some of their stories.

Talking About Global MigrationMartez was born in Mexico City to Spanish parents. He met his wife in veterinary school in Costa Rica. They then moved to Alabama, then Canada, back to the US and eventually back to Canada. Even though he has lived in four different countries and gone back and forth among them, he has always felt Mexican. Martez has noticed how different countries have different terminology to talk about the legal status of migrants in their country such as calling migrants “legal aliens” (US) versus “landed immigrants” (Canada). The latter makes him feel more welcome.

Even though Thinh was very young when he arrived in the US, he remembers what a ‘struggle’ it was. He and his family did not speak English, and they had to rely on others for translations. Thinking back, Thinh recalls how shocked they were by everything in their new home, ‘bright city lights….Everything was amazing.’ Thinh was enrolled in English as a second language classes but when he was in third or fourth grade, he decided he did not want to be in those classes anymore because he felt that he had ‘grasped the language’.

Xui moved from China to Qatar for three years and then followed her husband to the US. She found it difficult to adapt to her new environment, but says that once you understand the culture of your new home, you might realize that your life there is more meaningful and colorful.

Cristina always dreamed of seeing the world. Born in Colombia, she moved to Spain for a job and then later moved to the US where she is now a professor. Cristina believes that immigration is a great risk, but it is a risk she would be willing to take again, even though she often feels as if she is living ‘in a limbo’— part of her in Colombia, part in Spain, and part in the US.

The above vignettes demonstrate the very diverse and complicated lives of globally mobile people in an increasingly mobile global landscape. This dynamic interplay of migrants of multiple-origin has changed city and rural environments around the world (referred to by Vertovec [2010] as ‘super-diversity’) and the increased movement of transnational migrants underscores the need for educational responses to migration that attend to the linguistic and cultural diversity of demographically changing student bodies and address the educational needs of newcomer students.

Hence, Talking About Global Migration attempts to re-complicate the often simplified and stereotyped stories of migrants who reside in increasingly diverse places in diverse contexts by talking with over 70 participants in 12 different countries, and providing useful information for language teachers (as well as anyone who comes into contact with migrants). In addition, I examine the metaphors and metonymies (see bolded words above) that migrants use when talking about their experiences. In doing so, I hope that people can better understand the way migrants perceive themselves and the migration experience and how this differs greatly from the way they are portrayed in the media. Furthermore, I hope to shed light on how migrants are affected by the way others refer to them, such as how Martez notes the different effect on him that the terms “legal alien” vs. “landed immigrant” have. In this way, I aim to raise consciousness about our own way of thinking and talking about migration.

If you would like to contact me about the book I can be reached by email: Theresa Catalano, tcatalano2@unl.edu

References:
Vertovec, S. (2010). Towards post-multiculturalism? Changing communities, contexts and conditions of diversity. International Social Science Journal 199, 83-95.

migration booksFor more information on Theresa’s book please see our website. You might also be interested in some of our other migration titles Refugee Resettlement in the United States edited by Emily M. Feuerherm and Vaidehi Ramanathan and Language, Immigration and Naturalization edited by Ariel Loring and Vaidehi Ramanathan.


Why are multilingual cities so important in today’s globalised world?

27 January 2016

This month we published The Multilingual City edited by Lid King and Lorna Carson which explores the reality of urban multilingualism in a network of cities researched by the the LUCIDE team – part of a European project funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. In this post, the editors tell us more about multilingual cities and what we can learn from their research.

The Multilingual CityWhy are cities such a useful laboratory for the study of multilingualism?

In many ways, cities are working models of the future, and powerful generators of new ideas on managing and benefiting from new patterns of mobility and diversity. They are places where new policy discourse can be created, where the constraints of national policies and limitations of national discourse may be modified or overcome.

What does the literature on urban studies have to say about multilingualism?

To be honest, not much! While the city has long been a topic of academic, policy and development discourse, and in recent years there has also been significant interest in the potential of the city to resolve social and economic problems, there has also been a persistent underestimation of the importance of linguistic diversity as a catalyst for such creativity and change. This volume seeks to rectify this lack of attention by examining the realities of multilingualism in the eighteen cities represented by the LUCIDE network.

Are there any common themes which might indicate the future for multilingual cities? Or does every city tell a different tale?       

Despite the homogenisation of globalisation, it would appear that diversity is the one striking characteristic of our urban world. The model is not one of ‘the multilingual city’, but of a more complex typology of cities, which are essentially distinct and rooted in particular landscapes. So for many cities, an image as multilingual is seen as highly desirable. Utrecht, for example, presents itself as a multilingual hotspot, and the administration of the city presents this as a positive thing and sign of a better way of life. Other cities, however, downplay their multilingual aspects, some not even recognising the realities of their language diversity.

Yet there are also some common themes which emerge from the cities, despite their economic, demographic and historical differences.

What about the experiences of individual citizens?

Just as authorities choose to promote their city’s image in different ways, so too do individual inhabitants’ reactions to multilingualism differ. Even in the most cosmopolitan cities, not all of the inhabitants share positive and optimistic attitudes. For some, their city is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, creative place where they want to live. For others, it is a more uncomfortable place where the very speed of change has been unsettling rather than inspirational.

The economic crisis has only exacerbated this uncertainty.

How has the political class responded?

In recent years politicians across the spectrum have joined a chorus of concern about the consequences of globalisation and have stressed the need to reaffirm national identities. Many of the accepted liberal consensual views about the value of diversity and the role of the state, particularly in promoting inclusive education, are being called into question. The inability of European leaders to respond to the current influx of refugees is the most vivid and tragic indication of where such negativity could lead.

And what about the future of the multilingual city?

Despite this narrow and inward-looking discourse of politicians, there is an inescapable logic to reality, especially in the more or less democratic and open cities of our network. The strength of urban multilingualism lies in the activities of citizens – in the initiatives and structures which grow up from the ground. These happen because of need and in response to community aspiration. At policy and political level, multilingual vitality will be maintained and will flourish in cities which allow freedom and give support to these communities, rather than seeking to suppress or homogenise growth and diversity. Together, the chapters in our book articulate a rationale for multilingual vitality and for promoting the value and strength of the diverse city.

Linguistic Landscapes titlesFor more information about this book please see our website. If you liked this post, you might also be interested in a couple of our other titles: Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes by Jan Blommaert and Linguistic Landscape in the City edited by Elana Shohamy, Eliezer Ben-Rafael and Monica Barni.


Urban Diversities and Language Policies in Medium-Sized Linguistic Communities

5 August 2015

In August we are publishing Urban Diversities and Language Policies in Medium-Sized Linguistic Communities edited by Emili Boix-Fuster. Here, Emili explains how he became so interested in the subject of urban diversity.

Having been born and raised in a big city, Barcelona, I’ve always been fascinated by its linguistic diversity, and above all, by the interrelation of this diversity with social inequality. Language, by means of its endless nuances mirrors the distribution of power and solidarity in society. In my city, for example, Catalan and Spanish coexist and compete in all domains in everyday life. My father, one of the first Catalan sociologists, always encouraged me to observe this heterogeneity.

Urban Diversities and Language Policies in Medium-Sized Linguistic CommunitiesMy new book, Urban Diversities and Language Policies in Medium-Sized Linguistic Communities, resonates this initial motivation. I wanted to compare the linguistic landscape of my native city with other urban areas in similar medium-sized linguistic communities. This endeavour has resulted in seven chapters dealing with this intermingling of language in society, namely Brussels (French/Dutch), Vigo (Galician/Spanish), Valencia (Catalan-Valencian/Spanish), Barcelona (Catalan/Spanish), Copenhagen (Danish/English), Helsinki (Finnish/Swedish/English) and Tallinn (Estonian/Russian/English). In all of them a competition takes place not only between the local languages, but also increasingly with the global language, English.

I am convinced that observing and studying linguistic diversity through the lens of cities, allows researchers and citizens alike to understand and improve linguistic coexistence.

9781847698346For more information about this book please see our website. You might also be interested in one of our other titles: Survival and Development of Language Communities edited by F. Xavier Vila.


“With my parents I speak integrated Arabic” – Integration, linguistic contrasts and social status relations

21 October 2014

Lian Malai Madsen has recently been announced as the winner of the 2014 Ton Vallen award.  This is an annual award for papers written by new researchers  on sociolinguistic and educational issues in multicultural societies which we at Multilingual Matters are proud to support. In this article Lian discusses the background to her paper which examines integration and linguistic styles in Denmark.

My husband moved to Denmark 12 years ago from the UK. When we met he used to live off microwave meals and industrial white sandwich bread, but now he bakes his own rye bread. Rye bread can be considered a key sign of Danish national belonging (as Martha Karrebæk has shown in her research, e.g. in What’s in your lunch box? 2012), and not only does he consume it, he creates it himself – from basic organic ingredients. I like to joke about this change by calling him well ‘integrated’.  In the most common sense of ‘integrated’ he certainly seems to be, when it comes to food habits: He has adapted to the eating practices of the majority population in the country he immigrated to. When it comes to speaking a standard variety of the national language, however, he is not as successful, and the mastering of the national language is of course also highly significant to integration as it is understood in Western European political and public discourse.

Among the teenagers I have followed with my colleagues during our fieldwork in an urban school in Copenhagen, the term integrated is used in a different way. These teenagers are not unaware of the common meaning and its connection to the wider integration discourse, and their use is not unrelated to this, but the way they employ the term with reference to language use is intriguing and revealing to a sociolinguist. The young Copenhageners use ‘integrated’ as a label for a speech style and claim to speak integratedly to teachers and other adults, for instance, to show respect. They do not only report to speak ‘integrated Danish’, but some of them also speak ‘integrated Arabic’ with their parents, and students with ethnic Danish family background describe it as appropriate to speak integratedly to the elderly. Finally, they playfully illustrate typical integrated speech and speakers with very high-pitched, exaggerated polite and tea-drinking parodies. In this sense, a term otherwise associated with different national and ethnic relationships and newcomers’ adaption to language use and culture, clearly has a new meaning that also includes a more general stylistic and hierarchical dimension.

In the recent academic paper “High” and “Low” in urban Danish speech styles I look into this when I discuss how youth in Copenhagen use and understand different ways of speaking. A significant insight gained from the research documented in the article is that a speech style previously described and conceptualised as multiethnic youth language is understood in contrast to the ‘integrated’ speech style by teenagers regularly using this way of speaking. The ongoing social value ascriptions to the contrasting styles, in fact, seem to map on to a set of opposing binaries involving low/high; street cultural/academic; masculine/feminine; tough/polite; emotion/reason; youthful/adult, and this, I argue, points to a sociolinguistic transformation. Linguistic signs that used to be seen as related to migration, on an insider/outsider dimension of comparison, are now related to status and social class on a high/low dimension as well.

Since language and linguistic styles as tools for daily communication come to be associated with particular people, places, purposes and values, the way young people use and understand language can tell us a lot about how they experience similarities, differences and inequalities in the social world. Public discourse about minority youth tends to emphasise ethnic, cultural and religious differences to explain social inequalities today and thereby perhaps overlooks dimensions of social status and class. But the teenagers I have studied articulate aspects of social inequality (indexed by different ways of speaking) that most of the current discussions about the challenges of diversity fail to capture. So this kind of research on the speech styles and language ideologies is not only interesting for sociolinguists but can also contribute to qualifying societal debates.

My husband would probably never be accused of speaking integratedly (he is from a city in East Yorkshire), and I am not sure he captures the hints at poshness in my ‘integrated’ joke (he grew up in a very working-class environment). But the relatively more high-status signals it stereotypically sends – of having the resources to value environmental and health concerns – when you make your rye bread from organic ingredients (and happily share experiences and recipes), is perfectly in tune with the associations of integrated as it is used by the young Copenhageners about speech.

Perhaps he will get if he reads my paper. Or perhaps I should just work a bit on my jokes.

Lian Malai Madsen

Lian’s webpage at the University of Copenhagen can be found here.

References

Karrebæk, M. S. (2012), “What’s in Your Lunch Box Today?”: Health, Respectability, and Ethnicity in the Primary Classroom. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 22: 1–22. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1395.2012.01129.x

Lian Malai Madsen (2013). “High” and “low” in urban Danish speech styles. Language in Society, 42, pp 115-138. doi:10.1017/S0047404513000018.


Challenging the Monolingual Mindset

15 October 2014

While many of us only speak one language fluently, for others, multilingualism is a way of life. In their recent volume, Challenging the Monolingual Mindset, John Hajek and Yvette Slaughter examine the linguistic diversity in a range of several different communities around the world. Here, they discuss the background to the book and why multilingualism and other language issues are complex matters.

Challenging the Monolingual MindsetThe idea that having one and only one language is normal is a persistent but mistaken one, particularly in the English-speaking world. Also known as the monolingual mindset, its impact can be felt in many different ways. It discourages, for instance, L1 English second language learners, because English is too easily considered to be more than sufficient. And it is prone to making multilingualism less worthy, if not invisible, when having more than one language is the reality for most of the world’s population.

This volume is dedicated to the memory of Michael Clyne, sociolinguist of international stature, who worked tirelessly during his life to challenging the monolingual mindset in Australia and elsewhere. He did so through his research, teaching and public minded outreach. In this volume his former colleagues and students in Melbourne – where he lived his life – have come together to share their expertise across a wide range of topics – to highlight the importance of language issues in everyday life – whether it’s in Australia’s schools or military, in the shopping arcades of Stockholm or on the streets of Switzerland or Singapore.

When the Swedish crown prince Daniel said, on the birth of his daughter, ‘Mina känslor är lite are all over the place…..’ [My feelings are a little bit all over the place], we see that using two languages – Swedish and English as it turns out in Sweden – is completely normal. It’s an indication, as Catrin Norrby shows in her contribution to this volume that Prince Daniel is, despite his regal status, just an ordinary citizen of Sweden.

Language issues and multilingualism are complex matters – as this volume highlights as it casts its light on Australia, Asia and Europe – across a wide range of settings. To support multilingualism we need to describe it and understand it.

Readers will undoubtedly enjoy the volume – each chapter is a good read in itself and a useful piece in the puzzle of how to bring language-related issues in modern society to the fore.

Uniformity and Diversity in Language PolicyFor more information about the book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Uniformity and Diversity in Language Policy edited by Catrin Norrby and John Hajek.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Winner of the 2014 Multilingualism in the Community Award

24 January 2014

We are delighted to announce that the winner of our 2014 Multilingualism in the Community Award is the ‘Our Multilingual Village’ newsletter. Here, Yurimi Grigsby, the organiser of the project tells us more about the newsletter and how the idea came together.

Our Multilingual Village Newsletter Project

When I first arrived as a professor at Concordia University Chicago, I was astounded by the number of languages present in the area. The city of Chicago and the Chicagoland area is an area rich with ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity. Illinois schools have over 180,000 English language learners in its public schools, speaking 139 different non-English native languages. To exemplify the linguistic diversity that exists in this area, the top ten languages spoken are Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Urdu, Korean, Filipino (Tagalog), Cantonese (Chinese), Gujarati, Vietnamese, and Russian. Instead of seeing the education of the children from these backgrounds as a problem, my goal for Our Multilingual Village newsletter is to reframe the multilingual community as a linguistic asset and a critical resource in the 21st century world.

As a take on the phrase “global village,” the newsletters would spotlight the 10 largest language groups found in communities across the Chicago area. My hope is this newsletter project would continue to grow to include all 139 languages in the state and eventually those across the United States; in particular the endangered indigenous languages we may soon lose without concerted preservation efforts.

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was made flesh. It was so in the beginning and it is so today. The language, the Word, carries within it the history, the culture, the traditions, the very life of a people, the flesh. Language is people. We cannot even conceive of a people without a language, or a language without a people. The two are one and the same. To know one is to know the other. – Sabine Ulibarri

This project has three goals: 1) to promote awareness and understanding of languages as rich, linguistic resources and a critical asset in the 21st century; 2) to promote pride in the heritage speakers and the communities where the languages live; and 3) to honor the complex and intricate processes involved in the act of the older generation passing on to the younger generations all the knowledge, wisdom, and worldviews encased within language, keeping it alive.

Time and again the evidence in educational research shows us how, when the social capital of a language is improved by non-standard speakers, the children improve academically. This makes sense when we think of language as being a part of ourselves and our identities as much as the flesh and blood that carries forth the words we speak.

Each issue will place a spotlight on each of the languages at a time, and will include information about the history, culture and the modern people who are its speakers and users. Each newsletter will also include a well-known proverb in the language, written in its original writing system (with Romanization and phonetic translation). With this project, I strive to place an emphasis on the importance and value of multilingual communities and linguistic diversity.

It is my hope that this project will inspire future initiatives that preserve the languages found in our communities and honor the people who speak them. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Multilingual Matters for their generosity and support for this endeavour. Now that this project can be fully realized, I will be able to create and distribute each newsletter at schools, community and cultural centers, and libraries to promote awareness for the linguistic diversity present right in our local communities. I would be able to express my gratitude for the assistance and cooperation of native speakers by giving back to the linguistic communities and sharing the products of the work.

A multilingual world is a healthy world!


Managing Diversity in Education

3 December 2013

Last month we published Managing Diversity in Education edited by David Little, Constant Leung and Piet Van Avermaet. Here, David tells us a bit about how the book came together.

Managing Diversity in EducationManaging Diversity in Education began to take shape at an international conference organised by Trinity College Dublin’s Trinity Immigration Initiative in June 2010. The conference marked the end of the Initiative, a network of five loosely linked research projects that were philanthropically funded from 2007 to 2010. One of the projects (which I directed) was concerned with the provision of English language support for immigrant students attending post-primary school in Ireland. The strand of the conference devoted to language education mostly comprised reports on Irish research in different educational sectors, but we also had an international dimension: Constant Leung (King’s College London) and Piet Van Avermaet (University of Ghent) were our invited speakers, and both had things to say that complemented local contributions while opening up broader perspectives.

As the conference drew to an end, Constant, Piet and I reviewed the presentations we had heard. We were impressed by their quality and their variety and agreed that they were worth publishing. But on their own they were not enough to make a book, and a book would in any case need a greater diversity of themes and perspectives. So we started contacting colleagues in various countries who we knew could contribute chapters that would add substance and variety to the three preoccupations of the conference papers: linguistic diversity, policy and pedagogy. Not all of those we contacted were in a position to write something for us, but an encouraging number were. By the time we approached Multilingual Matters we had contributions from eight countries: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Nevertheless, seven of the sixteen chapters come from Ireland. Read together, they provide a comprehensive overview of the country’s response to the educational challenges posed by large-scale immigration: the implementation of official policy in primary and post-primary schools; the often inadequate provision of English language support at post-primary and tertiary levels; the sometimes hostile attitudes of teachers; the positive contribution made by research, especially the research carried out under the auspices of the Trinity Immigration Initiative; and innovative pedagogical developments in some schools. But the perspectives these chapters offer are greatly enriched by the multiple links between them and the contributions from other countries. For example, Déirdre Kirwan describes the way in which the girls’ primary school of which she is principal, situated in one of Dublin’s western suburbs, has progressed from a narrow view of English language support to a focus on plurilingual awareness that exploits pupils’ home languages in many different ways. It’s an inspiring story that assumes added resonance when it is read together with the discussion by Sven Sierens and Piet Van Avermaet of “functional multilingual learning”, the account that Nelson Flores and Ofelia García give of translanguaging in a high school for newly arrived Spanish-speaking immigrants in New York City, Natalie Auger’s description of the ways in which immigrant languages have been exploited in a number of French schools, and Shelley Taylor’s account of the management of linguistic diversity in Nepali primary schools. All other contributions to the book are similarly enriched by the chapters that surround them.

Editing a collection like Managing Diversity in Education is an instructive experience. One learns a great deal simply by reading the contributions as they come in, and more by gradually deciding the order in which they should be presented. Compiling the indexes provides a vivid reminder of the complex interplay of themes and arguments that runs through the contributions and of the international reach of published research, and this is reinforced when the proofs land one one’s desk. When a copy of the published book arrives in the post one sighs with relief, but one also hopes that readers will gain from it something of the same instruction and stimulation that the editors have enjoyed.

For further information on the book please see our website. If you found this interesting you might also like other books in the New Perspectives on Language and Education series.


%d bloggers like this: