CAUTHE 2020, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Aotearoa/New Zealand

In February Sarah made her annual trip to the other side of the world for CAUTHE, held this year at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In this post she fills us in on her best CAUTHE experience ever!

Tihei mauri ora, tihei mauri ora
Ngā iwi o te motu e
Tü ake, karangatia
Tü ake, manaakitia
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā

I haven’t been able to stop singing the conference Māori welcome song since I’ve been back! It was beautifully performed on the first morning by the AUT staff, led by Valance Smith, and all delegates were encouraged to join in each day of the conference. That was only one of the highlights of the conference’s opening morning! Delegates were invited to take part in a musical activity (Boom Time) which was a lot of fun even if you are rhythmically-challenged 😃

Alison Phipps then provided the opening keynote. We are proud to call Alison a friend of our company as well as a series editor and author. Her keynote on inhospitable hospitality and the treatment of refugees was in equal parts stunning, disturbing, breathtaking, uncomfortable and moving. It generated a lot of discussion during the following days and was an amazing start to a brilliant conference.

Alison's keynote
Alison’s keynote

The first day finished with the welcome reception and another moving performance, this time from the AUT student choir who performed Māori songs and finished with a haka.

The rest of the conference didn’t disappoint, with impressive paper presentations and other great keynotes from John Barrett, the founder of Kapiti Island Tours, on valuing people and community over profit, and from Iis Tussyadiah on AI and smart technologies.

Workshop
Our book workshop!

On the second day I co-hosted a workshop on the role of the book with two more of our series editors and authors, Ian Yeoman and Una McMahon-Beattie. It was a fun experience and I hope the attendees found it helpful!

Huge credit and many thanks go to the conference organisers, Tracy Harkison,  David Williamson, Glen Bailey (and many others!) for putting on the best CAUTHE I’ve attended!

Post-conference, I visited Wellington and Christchurch where I enjoyed the hospitality of Ian Yeoman and his wife (and dogs!) and Michael Hall and his family (thanks again for the chocolate!), and on my return to Auckland took a day trip to Tauranga.

Already looking forward to next year’s conference in Fremantle!

Sarah

Reclaiming, Revitalizing and Decolonizing Minority Languages

This month we published Rejecting the Marginalized Status of Minority Languages edited by Ari Sherris and Susan D. Penfield. In this post the editors discuss the themes covered in the book.

Our co-edited volume, Rejecting the Marginalized Status of Minority Languages, develops two themes, among others, within the overall context of language revitalization: human rights and decolonization. As such, it would be fair to place this book in a framework which is gaining attention: language reclamation. Where language revitalization focuses squarely on linguistic achievements, such as developing fluency, language reclamation factors in the community history and dynamics that have contributed to language shift. Wes Leonard (2019) describes it as a blend of language revitalization and decolonization. This makes a larger claim and increases the scope of language work for communities which struggle to balance educational efforts focused on their marginalized, often severely endangered, languages against the hegemonic forces still bent on colonization or political control and dominance.

These social forces exist in all parts of the world and, while community responses vary depending on their unique geopolitical settings, some common concerns emerge. Communities must decide how to strategically reclaim their language and consider all that this effort will entail. Among the issues to be considered are

1. How to secure a place for the language within the educational, social and political fabric of the community?

2. Who should teach the language – how, when and where?

3. Will local resources be developed, such as a community-based archive/library?

4. What technology comes into play, if at all, and for what specific purposes?

5. Is literacy a goal and, if so, how will that be achieved and valued?

6. Who assumes the authority for all of these efforts? Often one or two people emerge who spearhead the reclamation movement; some communities form committees or a group to place in charge.

7. How will language change be addressed?

8. Is language and cultural revitalization seen as an integrated activity?

9. Is there a place/need for ‘language activism’ – outreach through publicity locally, regionally, federally? And, can activism contribute in a concrete way to the creation of language policy?

10. Are there outside entities with which to form useful collaborations (this might be other communities, academic institutions, non-profit organizations).

Each chapter presents scenarios of language situations where steadfast educators, language practitioners and language activists are marching into the winds of more powerful and dominant languacultures (Agar, 1995; 2006). The book brings examples from a wide array of Indigenous languacultures, each situated in its own unique set of parameters to deal with the challenges. Included are case studies from teaching Kamsá in Colombia, Saami in Finland and Manx on the Isle of Man, to the challenges of the language regeneration among the Māori in New Zealand and the digital revolution in Indigenous language education of Taiwan. Cultural and language acquisition among the Wichi of Argentina is described, as is the challenge of literacy in the Safaliba language in Ghana, and the development of place-based language education in Hawaii.

Susan Penfield and Ari Sherris

References

Agar, M. (1995). Language Shock. NY: William Morrow.

Agar, M. (2006). Culture: Can you take it anywhere? International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(2), 1-12.

Leonard, W. Y. (2019). Indigenous languages through a reclamation lense. Anthropology News website, September 19, 2019. https://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2019/09/19/indigenous-languages-through-a-reclamation-lens/

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like A World of Indigenous Languages edited by Teresa L. McCarty, Sheilah E. Nicholas and Gillian Wigglesworth.

The Multilingual Nature of Higher Education

This month we published Academic Biliteracies edited by David M. Palfreyman and Christa van der Walt. In this post, David and Christa discuss their experience of coediting the book. 

Christa: There were some initial signs that this book was not meant to be. Firstly, David’s e-mails to me disappeared in cyberspace and it was only when Nancy Hornberger contacted me to enquire very diplomatically whether I had received the e-mails, that we found out his institutional e-mails were not delivered, for some unfathomable reason. Secondly, this was an under-researched topic and we were not sure that we would get any contributions; and thirdly, both of us dealt with serious interruptions of a personal and professional nature. And yet, here we are, three years later, with chapters that showcase the multilingual nature of higher education in all its complexity.

Our first (academic) challenge was to agree on what we understand ‘literacy’ to mean, so that we can evaluate contributions on ‘biliteracy’. Going through our Skype notes, I’m struck by the terminology issues in every conversation. Is there a difference between ‘translanguaging’ and ‘translingual’; between ‘multiliteracies’ and ‘multilingual literacies’? Is ‘translanguaging’ the overarching concept in which ‘biliteracy’ needs to find its place, or should they be seen as separate phenomena in multilingual contexts? We still do not have a definite answer; or maybe it is better to say that we have many answers!

David: Yes, the email bug almost put a subtle end to the project before it started, and I’m very glad that Nancy intervened! I was keen to work with Christa on this book because her previous publications had focused on multilingual higher education in a way that I hadn’t come across before: questioning assumptions about English as the medium of instruction in so many universities worldwide.

Christa: We both wanted a variety of chapters from all corners of the world, but of course we had to be selective within the scope of one book.  We aimed to cover both majority and minority languages in contexts where language is a medium for developing knowledge rather than necessarily a focus of the course; in the end, the chapters highlight the use at university of literacy in Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, isiXhosa and other African languages, Korean, Maori, Polish, Spanish and Welsh.

David: Some of the contributors had already published in the area of biliteracy; some had been working with biliterate students and issues of biliteracy in university courses for some years, but came to engage with the issues in new ways through their involvement in the book. As the book developed, we encouraged contributors to read and comment on each other’s chapters, which brought some mutual adjustments and helped bring out common themes. All of us became aware of new perspectives to understand the experience of students and scholars, and fresh options for working with and for biliteracy. Guillaume Gentil, whose previous work provided inspiration for the book, kindly sprang into action once the rest of the book was complete, contributing a concluding chapter which draws themes together and points out some ways forward for research in academic biliteracies.

I’m grateful to Zayed University (UAE) for their support in travelling to Australia, Jordan and the UK in the course of preparing the book. Among many learning experiences along the way, I remember especially meeting up by coincidence with Christa at the AILA Congress in Brisbane – it was good to have a face to face meeting near the beginning as most of our later work together was by email or Skype. Another unforgettable and educative experience was taking part in a research conference at Cardiff University where most communication was in Welsh or Basque: having to rely on simultaneous interpreters and finding my usual language of academic/social communication suddenly minoritized, I suddenly found myself a ‘lurker’ in academic discussions!

Christa: For me, as a lecturer who code switches and uses two languages when teaching at Stellenbosch University, the active development of biliteracy in academic contexts is an important acknowledgement of the multilingual nature of twenty-first century higher education. Many students arrive at higher education institutions with a fully developed academic language that is not English and it would be a waste to ignore the enormous potential of that resource when making meaning of academic material.

We’ll look forward to hearing from readers of the book about how the issues relate to their own experiences as learners or teachers.

 

David M. Palfreyman: david.palfreyman@zu.ac.ae

Christa van der Walt: cvdwalt@sun.ac.za

 

For more information about this book, please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Multilingual Higher Education, which Christa published with us previously.

 

Language of the Month

All of us in the MM office are passionate about languages and language learning. Between us we already speak 7 languages at some level or another. And when we are not busy publishing the 48 books we publish each year, we like to find ways to entertain ourselves in the office. To combine our love of languages with our need for entertainment, we have decided to initiate a Language of the Month in our office.

Each month we will pick a language that somehow relates to our work in some way, and between the 5 of us we will divide the tasks of teaching basic phrases, idiomatic phrases and proverbs, work-related vocabulary and phrases, travel information and cultural knowledge. We will spend 1 hour per week sharing the information that we have learned and attempting to master the basics, hopefully so that we can at least say please and thank you and ask for a cup of coffee and some cake in our chosen language.

Our first two languages will be:

German in September – in preparation for our visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Maori in October – in preparation for Elinor’s visit to New Zealand to attend the TBLT and LED conferences.

We will end each month by enjoying some traditional food and watching a film from each country.

No doubt we will be in touch with some of our authors and editors for assistance on some of the languages, and we’ll be regularly updating readers of this blog on our progress!