Cross-Language Mediation in Foreign Language Teaching and Testing

4 September 2015

This month we are publishing Cross-Language Mediation in Foreign Language Teaching and Testing by Maria Stathopoulou which examines mediation between languages and the challenges that mediators often face. In this post, Maria outlines the issues explored in the book.

9781783094110Users 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.

And why?

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.

Dr Maria Stathopoulou, University of Athens

For more information about this title please see our website or the author’s own Facebook page for the book or contact the author at the email address above.

Martial Arts and Sociolinguistics

28 August 2015

Earlier this month we published Lian Malai Madsen’s book Fighters, Girls and Other Identities. In this post, she explains how her interests in martial arts and sociolinguistics came together in this volume.

Fighters, Girls and Other IdentitiesI was 12 when I began practicing taekwondo in a small village club. At first it was my gender-egalitarian occupation that attracted me to the martial arts. Later it became an integral part of my self-perception, my main leisure activity and a source of lasting friendships. I continued to enjoy the sport as a fun way to keep fit, but it was the social community around the sport that had the greatest impact on my life.

I was 19 when I was first introduced to sociolinguistics at an urban university. At first I thought studying Danish was mostly about literature, but my teacher in linguistics opened my eyes to the connections between language use and social relations. I became involved in his research project and developed a keen interest for language, identity, diversity and inequality. During my years as a university student I became a black belt, an instructor and a board member in a large urban taekwondo club.

Although these paths in my life seemed like two very different worlds they eventually became united in the book Fighters, Girls and Other Identities: Sociolinguistics in a Martial Arts Club that investigates the martial arts club as a site where language, identities, diversity and inequality take effect.

In research on sports and identities, language has mainly been studied as discourses about sport, rhetoric surrounding sports or as speech genres connected with specific sports activities. But in tune with a wish to capture the social and linguistic diversity and mobility of today’s societies, sociolinguistic research has also turned to sports as an important site for studying linguistic hybridity and multilingualism. Such interests in globalization and superdiversity make the combination of the language use, sports and identities a fruitful research cocktail. It was my involvement in these topics as a scholar that led me to exchange the punching pads for a pen, notebooks and recording equipment for a while and to look at the social community of young martial artists in Copenhagen through the glasses of a sociolinguist.

I am 39 and the results of this research have finally been published, and, in the meantime, I have even become a taekwondo-mum.

Lian Malai Madsen
Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen

For more information on this title please contact Lian or see our website.

New series: Researching Multilingually

21 August 2015

To introduce our new series, Researching Multilingually, which we’re launching this year, the series editors Prue Holmes, Richard Fay and Jane Andrews have written this post which outlines the aims of the series.

The increasingly diverse character of many societies means that researchers from a wide range of disciplines may now find themselves engaging with multilingual opportunities as they design, carry out and disseminate their research, even if there is no explicit focus on languages and multilingualism. This book series is designed to address the methodological, practical, ethical options and dilemmas that researchers face may as they conduct their research.

  • How may researchers engage with research methodology which allows them to embrace multilingual possibilities and practices?
  • How may researchers operate with and across multiple languages in the research domain?
  • How are multiple languages reflected in research outcomes and dissemination events and products?

This series establishes a distinctive track of theoretical, methodological, and ethical researcher praxis that readers can draw upon in contexts where multiple languages are at play or might be purposefully used. The series offers critical and interpretive perspectives on research practices in a range of contexts, specifically where languages, and the people speaking and using them, are vulnerable and under pressure, pain, and tension.

For more information about the new series please see our website. Proposals should be sent to Anna Roderick.

Celebrating the 20th volume in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides book series

19 March 2015

The publication earlier this month of Coreen Sears’ book Second Language Students in English-Medium Classrooms marks the 20th book in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides series. Here, the series editor, Colin Baker, tells the story of the development of the series.

The series started with a challenged conscience and a dream in the early 1990s. I was writing academic books, editor of an international academic journal, and co-editor of a series of books on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. The academic side was secure, satisfying in university terms, and writing books was a pleasure.

But there were two nagging questions in my mind in the early 1990s. Did my contribution make any difference in the classroom to teachers instructing and students learning? Was I having any effect on the ways parents brought up their children to be bilingual? At times, the honest answer seemed to be ‘no’ or at best ‘too little influence on practice in both classrooms and homes’.

Mike & Marjukka Grover

Mike & Marjukka Grover

My spectral self-doubts were shared in the early 1990s with Mike Grover, the founder and Managing Director of Multilingual Matters. By talking about publishing, he helped me see that the difference between theory and practice, research and daily living, was not a divide, but essential parts of a larger whole. In publishing, having both was important, and getting some kind of bridge between the academic and the practical was always worth attempting.

I was indoctrinated at university not to write a popular practical book as (a) it would make me look a shallow academic and ruin my reputation and promotion prospects, (b) that research and not  ‘practical guidance’  was the role of a university academic. The advice by my seniors was not to depart from an academic lifestyle. Disobedience was chosen. Conscience won. The dream began.

A Parents' and Teachers' Guide to BilingualismA hospital operation started the ball rolling. The operation was 100% successful, but the skilled surgeon told me it was essential to stay home for two weeks to rest and recuperate. After two days I was totally bored. So, in the bedroom and then study, I wrote a book for parents about bringing up bilingual children. With the help of Marjukka Grover, wife of Mike and Editor of the Bilingual Family Newsletter, over 100 questions that parents and teachers tend to ask were posed and refined. In two weeks, I had answered each question, created a rough draft of a book in FAQ style, and was fit for a return to university. The book became A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism. It was first published in 1995, with further editions in 2000, 2007 and 2014. Jokes about ‘it shows signs of the anaesthetic’ were prevalent among my colleagues in 1995!

Guía para padres y maestros de niños bilingüesThe book became the world’s best­selling guide for parents and teachers in raising and developing bilingual children, and has been published in Swedish, Estonian, Spanish, Turkish, German, Mandarin Chinese and Korean. A version of the book was published by Multilingual Matters in Spanish as Guía para padres y maestros de niños bilingües with Alma Flor Ada joining as co-author.

Both the English and Spanish editions of A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism sold well and led to the start of the PTG series. The first books in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides series date from 1998/9 and covered important ‘guidance’ topics for parents (e.g. dyslexia and Deaf children), with Coreen Sears’ book Second Language Students in Mainstream Classrooms being for teachers. Subsequent books have included topics as diverse as: reading and writing, sign language, family language strategies and the effect of siblings on language development.

Growing Up with LanguagesSome books in the series are for parents; others for teachers; a few are for both parents and teachers. For example, for parents Claire Thomas’ 2012 much-applauded book Growing Up with Languages gives sound and honest advice on raising bilingual children.

Language and Learning in Multilingual ClassroomsAnother book that has received considerable praise in reviews is for teachers. Written by Elizabeth Coelho and entitled Language and Learning in Multilingual Classrooms it gives seasoned and comprehensive guidance on all aspects of classrooms where there are newcomers with varied languages. An example of a book for both parents and teachers is Trevor Payne and Elizabeth Turners’ Dyslexia: A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide that utilized much practical experience of dyslexic children with academic understandings.

Second Language Students in English-Medium ClassroomsThe series is very well-known for its books for teachers on International Schools. Written by international educators such as Edna Murphy, Eithne Gallagher, Maurice Carder and Coreen Sears, these provide a boundary-breaking set of guides for both new and experienced teachers in the fast growing number of International Schools throughout the world. The 20th book in the series is Coreen Sears’ second book Second Language Students in English-Medium Classrooms.

Family Language LearningTwo other books have only just been published (2015): Family Language Learning by Christine Jernigan and Approaches to Inclusive English Classrooms by Kate Mastruserio Reynolds.

Approaches to Inclusive English ClassroomsA recent and strongly developing strand to the series is books on the development of multilingual children. Written by authors such as Tony Cline, Andreas Braun, Claire Thomas, Elizabeth Coelho and Xiao-lei Wang (with two outstanding US books), these reflect the growing acceptance that multilingual children and multilingual classrooms are sufficiently different from bilingualism and bilingual education to merit their own advice and guidance. When the series started in the early 1990s, advice about multilingualism was seen as covered by bilingualism. This is no longer the case, as the above authors demonstrate so well. The dream has developed.

Written from the conscience, the following initial dream for the series was composed in 1995. “This series will provide immediate advice and practical help on topics where parents and teachers frequently seek answers. Each book will be written by one or more experts in a style that is highly readable, non-technical and comprehensive. No prior knowledge is assumed: a thorough understanding of a topic is promised after reading the book.”

Mike & Marjukka Grover

Mike & Marjukka Grover

My thanks go to all the authors of the twenty top-quality books in the series. These authors are teachers, parents, professional developers and academics. All authors have been a joy not only to work with, but also to learn from and to share the dream with. Much gratitude also goes to the staff at Multilingual Matters who shared my dream that we could produce excellent books that give advice and guidance at a practical level. Not least this includes Mike and Marjukka Grover who shared, supported and stirred the dream.

For more information about the Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides book series please see our website.

Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling

3 March 2015

In February we published Marguerite Lukes’ new book Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling. In this post, Marguerite gives us a bit of background to the book.

Each year countless immigrant youth migrate to the US and Europe with dreams of a better tomorrow. International news organizations report regularly on migrants’ ordeals (see here  and here) but few focus on what happens once they settle in their host country. Many, in the midst of their adolescent years, have abandoned their schooling and arrive as unaccompanied minors, facing multiple challenges in education and the labor market, with adolescent needs but shouldering adult responsibilities.

Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted SchoolingMigrant youth are the subject of my new book Latino Immigrant Youth and Interrupted Schooling. The book explores the voices, perspectives and life experiences of a growing group of immigrant young adults at a time when both Europe and the US struggle to design effective immigration policies to integrate and educate them. The book emerged from my personal experiences teaching and designing programs for these youth. I found that prior research tended to ‘explain away’ the issue of immigrant youth’s interrupted schooling, equating it with disinterest in education. In the classroom, I met young migrants thirsty for information about college and job training, and who often had been encouraged to leave school or were frustrated because their need to work and support families with remittances conflicted with school’s schedules. Far from being disinterested in school, the young people whom I met were eager to learn English, enter college, and become professionals, many with aspirations to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and social workers and sought opportunities to advance. Yet institutional barriers stood between them and realizing their dreams; they had few mentors or peers who could help them access feasible educational options.

The book fills a glaring gap in scholarship on immigrant young adults who are categorized as dropouts (those who have left secondary school) by presenting new data on a significant but overlooked population. In the book, I present recommendations for supporting and serving these youth. Persistent deficit views that suggest that some groups ‘value’ education more than others overlook sociopolitical realities and global economic factors the lead to school interruption prior to migration and institutional barriers that keep students out of school once they arrive in the host country. The book seeks to enrich the conversation by putting faces to young people who are often presented merely as statistics. The book also explores ways in which the US political economy impacts the lives, educational pathways and work options of these young adults, and their integration into the cultural, social and economic mainstream of the US.

Historical and contextual data are used to provide the reader with an understanding of the socio-political forces at work that lead young people to leave school in their countries of origin.

By using data collected in interviews of 150 students who arrived in the US between the ages of 15 and 24, I present their experiences as they navigate the complex and confusing education landscape after arriving in the US. Existing policies often provide disincentives for schools to serve youth who are emergent bilinguals and older than the average secondary student, and sometimes with emergent basic academic skills.

Central to this new volume is an examination of the role of language, English proficiency, literacy and academic skills play in access to educational options. It presents research on multilingual and translanguaging approaches to academic English development and existing policies and practices for students with interrupted formal education. The book concludes with a discussion of existing public policies, opportunities and institutional constraints that impact the young adults discussed here. Existing models that show promise are presented, alongside challenges and persisting questions and directions for the future. The book shares voices and compelling stories of young immigrant adults who were eager to share their experiences. Time and again they reminded me that this type of scholarship is important because, as one youth explained, “they don’t really see us.”

If you would like more information about this book, please see our website.

Language Policy in Higher Education

16 December 2014

English is becoming more and more common as the language of instruction in universities all over the world. However, in many countries efforts are being made to preserve indigenous languages. In this post, F. Xavier Vila and Vanessa Bretxa, the editors of our recent book Language Policy in Higher Education outline the recent debates within language policy that form the basis of their book.

In 2012, the leading Italian public university Politecnico di Milano attracted headlines from all over the world when it announced it would move to all-English instruction. The announcement stirred the growing debate going on all over Europe about the convenience of increasing the role of English as the vehicular language in non-English-speaking countries. One year later, it was France’s turn to discuss the issue of the Franglais row: Is the English language conquering France?, to the extent that the national government had to make a decision about the role of English in French universities. Simultaneously, on the other side of the ocean, in the now economically booming Bolivia, the first promotion of students from the three recently created indigenous universities were preparing their graduation theses neither in Spanish or English, but rather in the indigenous Aymara, Quechua and Guarani languages. Their graduation in August 2014 was welcome as a crucial step in order to promote social cohesion and wealth redistribution and overcome centuries of external and internal colonialism.

What’s going on in the field of language policies in higher education? Once the realm of Latin, in the 19th and 20th centuries universities adopted massively the national and colonial languages following the heyday of the Western nation states. Universities formed the intellectual elites that led the cultural and scientific progress of the last century, and produced the leaders and the cadres that ruled the world. But globalization and the commodification of knowledge are transforming the environment for higher education also in its linguistic dimension. English-medium courses are proliferating all over the world, sometimes due to the genuine desire to attract international talent, partly also as a strategy to obtain resources from abroad. But is the development of English-medium education just part of a more complex story?

Language Policy in Higher EducationIn a context where the major languages are said to be succumbing to the urge of English, what are the prospects of medium-sized languages that have achieved the status of lingua academica to retain it? Will they find a place in the new world of higher education, or will they rather be reduced to the status of mere vernaculars in a near future? And what about those that have still not made it? Is it still sound to spend time and money to raise their status or would it be more adequate to try to content their speakers with a reasonably stable functional distribution of languages? Is it still worth increasing the number of linguae academicae?

These and other related questions are tackled in the volume Language Policy in Higher Education: The Case of Medium-Sized Languages by a team of well-renowned specialists in language policy. Based on the close examination of a number of medium-sized languages from Finland to South Africa and from Israel to Catalonia, the volume compares the trajectories of languages that have made it in higher education and others that didn’t, analyses their current state, and seeks to extract lessons of general applicability. And while their results may be read from different perspectives, one of them seems to be clear: in the era of globalization, there seems to be ample room for multilingualism in academia, but it will probably never be the way it used to be.

Survival and Development of Language CommunitiesFor more information on this book please see our website. You might also be interested in Survival and Development of Language Communities edited by F. Xavier Vila.

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.







Multilingualism in education is on the agenda

19 September 2014

Jean Conteh and Gabriela Meier’s book The Multilingual Turn in Languages Education is out this month. They have written this post about how the book came together and the importance of multilingual education. 

The Multilingual Turn in Languages EducationThe origins of this book emerged about 3 years ago in discussions about the different ways in which multilingualism was being talked about, not just in research, but in the lived experiences of people around the world. As editors, we both noticed that there was increasing interest in multilingualism in education – we refer to this new trend as the multilingual turn in languages education. We use languages in the plural to show that we are thinking about individuals’ whole language repertoires as resources for teaching and learning, not just the ‘target language’ of teaching.

A new era has started – Multilingual Matters setting the agenda

Our new book offers an invitation, including some guidelines and ideas, for teachers, researchers and policymakers to consider multilingualism in a new light as a key item on their agenda. The ideas underpinning the book began to be discussed around 20-30 years ago, when some authors started to recognise that monolingual language practices in schools can disadvantage many learners. During that period, Multilingual Matters was founded in 1976 and has since played an important role in influencing and shaping what people in their different spheres, including ourselves, talk about and what they deem important, i.e. what goes on the agenda.

The multilingual turn: ideology, theory, pedagogy

While the multilingual turn offers many opportunities, there are, of course, still many challenges before ideas can be put into practice in classrooms. As we and the authors in this book suggest, there are many positive ways in which this can happen. The opportunities and challenges are explored in the three parts of our book by taking into account the multiple layers of society, policy and classroom practice – all embedded in and informed by research.

First, in part one, we consider prevailing ideologies and language hierarchies, for instance about which languages have status and are therefore seen as useful, which languages are ignored and why and what the implications may be for individuals and groups. Then, through the chapters in part two, we argue the need for a theoretical basis for multilingual approaches to education. Finally, in part three, we show, through presenting different examples of innovative classroom practice, how educators in every situation need to find their own ways of taking account of their local circumstances and their learners’ resources.

Thanks to everyone

Gabriela visiting the office

Gabriela visiting the office

We are very grateful to Multilingual Matters, and Viv Edwards (see her recent blog post here) for supporting our book project. It was a pleasure working with you all! Furthermore, we were very lucky to find authors working across the world (Australia, Greek-Cyprus, Mauritius, China, France, Germany, USA, Switzerland, UK and Europe more generally) who embraced the idea of the multilingual turn. Their contributions present research from very varied teaching contexts and cover TESOL, EAL, SLA, MFL and two-way bilingual immersion. Thanks to you all, we were even able keep to our initial timetable!

Many thanks again to all at Multilingual Matters, all our authors and everyone who contributed to this book. We hope that through this book some ideas may make it from the agenda into practice.

For further information about this book please see our website.

New videos on bilingualism and parenting on our YouTube channel

13 May 2014
What should I do if my childteenager refuses to use one of hisher languages

One of Colin’s videos

To coincide with the publication of the 4th edition of A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism we asked the author, Colin Baker, to tell us a bit more about the book.

He has filmed 15 videos, which are now available to view on Multilingual Matters’ YouTube channel.  In some of the videos Colin answers questions which appear in the book, such as:

Others videos discuss the history of the book and Colin describes how the idea came about, how the 4th edition differs from previous editions and how his views have changed since the original publication.

All the videos are available as single files, each one lasting between 1 and 6 minutes, and the complete playlist can be found here.  Alternatively, a single film containing all the videos is available here.

A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism is available to buy from our website as both a print and ebook.

Celebrating 10 years of our Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights series

10 April 2014

In April 2004 we published the first book in our Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights book series. Medium or Message? by Anya Woods was the first title in the series which is edited by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. The volume examined the relationship between language and religion within multicultural societies.

Ten years later we have ten books in the series, the most recent being Revitalising Indigenous Languages by Marja-Liisa Olthuis, Suvi Kivelä and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. The book tells the story of the Indigenous Aanaar Saami language (around 350 speakers) and cultural revitalisation in Finland. Leanne Hinton, from the University of California at Berkeley, USA called the book “a must-read for all communities and their friends who are trying to revitalize their endangered languages.”

The series aims to promote and maintain linguistic diversity throughout the world and protect endangered minority languages. The books in the series can take a variety of approaches, drawing on sociolinguistics, education, sociology, economics, human rights law, political science, as well as anthropology, psychology, and applied language studies.

The series editor Tove Skutnabb-Kangas is a renowned scholar in the field of minority education and language rights. You can find more information about her and her work on her website.

The full list of books in the series is:
Medium or Message? by Anya Woods
Imagining Multilingual Schools edited by Ofelia García, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and María E. Torres-Guzmán
Minority Languages and Cultural Diversity in Europe by Konstanze Glaser
Global Issues in Language, Education and Development by Naz Rassool
Regional Nationalism in Spain by Jaine E. Beswick
Language Allegiances and Bilingualism in the US edited by M. Rafael Salaberry
Social Justice through Multilingual Education edited by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, Ajit K. Mohanty and Minati Panda
Illegitimate Practices by Jacqueline Widin
English Language as Hydra edited by Vaughan Rapatahana and Pauline Bunce
Revitalising Indigenous Languages by Marja-Liisa Olthuis, Suvi Kivelä and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas


LDLR covers


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