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  • May 30, 2017
  • 08:29 PM
  • 250 views

International students and language: opportunity or threat?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move

With recent news on the number of international students in Australia reaching a new high and the 19.4 billion-dollar revenue...... Read more »

  • May 11, 2017
  • 10:42 PM
  • 264 views

The banal nationalism of intercultural communication advice

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Intercultural communication advice is a strange genre. Filling shelves and shelves in bookshops and libraries and now with a well-established...... Read more »

Piller, I. (2017) Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. info:/

  • April 25, 2017
  • 03:16 AM
  • 332 views

Will technology make language rights obsolete?

by Dave Sayers in Language on the Move

Something has been nagging at me recently. I read a lot of tech news, and it seems automated translation is...... Read more »

  • April 9, 2017
  • 11:51 PM
  • 366 views

Fighting for ‘pure’ Mongolian

by Gegentuul Baioud in Language on the Move

On New Year’s Eve, when many people around the world were excited about firework shows, a group of Mongols in...... Read more »

Sachirengui. (2013) Mongol nüüdel hüühediin niigemchileltiin tuhai sudalal [A Study on the Socialization Process of Mongol Migrant Children in Hohhot]. Masters thesis, University of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot. . info:/

  • March 27, 2017
  • 11:04 AM
  • 188 views

Being multilingual in school

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Schooling nurtures development of academic ways of talking about things. This has come to be called ‘education’, in the sense that an ‘educated’ person is able to use language in this way. Schooling teaches us how, why and with whom our languages can be used to acquire knowledge formally, about history, chemistry, or geography, things that not all of us will have encountered at home, by these or any other names. It also teaches us that knowledge, of these and other things, can come to us from strangers, not just from people whom we’ve been familiar with from birth.Since all of us must be schooled in some language, those strangers will use their language(s) to us. This means that we’ll be facing new ways of using our old languages, or new ways of using new ones. For some children, the ability to switch use of their language(s) appropriately, according to purpose, topic or interlocutor, won’t be new at school start. Preschoolers know how to deal with linguistic register (the technical term for this) both passively, as Laura Wagner and colleagues report in Development in children’s comprehension of linguistic register, and actively, as Melissa Redford and Christina Gildersleeve-Neumann show in The development of distinct speaking styles in preschool children. For all children, however, using languages in school-bound ways will be new, because school will be a new environment to them. For multilingual and monolingual children alike, home and school uses of language won’t match. Tradition has it that we label such monolingual uses ‘language varieties’ (or dialects, or registers) and multilingual ones ‘languages’, although what the children will need to learn is exactly the same: to sort out their linguistic resources appropriately. All of us, young and old, learn to manage register switches on the job and because of different jobs. Children will acquire school uses of language by being exposed to those uses and practising them in a school environment, just like they acquired home uses of language through exposure and practice at home. Exposure and practice is what teaches us linguistic skills, and what generates awareness that our languages offer differentially appropriate choices to what we wish to say. We’re not born knowing how to use our languages before we start using them.Home and school uses of language are, indeed, differentially appropriate, each befitting its environment qualitatively. They do not represent the gradable quantities of linguistic competence that popular and very unfortunate labels such as ‘basic’ (for home uses) and ‘academic’ (for school uses) appear to imply, whether applied to languages or language varieties. In the case of multilinguals, reliance on judgemental labels such as these has meant repression of all their languages except the ‘good’, ‘rich’, worth-developing school language. Forbidding the use of the home language not just in class but in school premises may no longer involve the physical violence it once did, for both spoken and sign languages, but advice to parents to switch to the school language at home, in order to “enhance” their children’s academic performance still abounds. Such advice may include threatening assertions of dire consequences, for the children, of continued use of “too many languages at home”. Parents in multilingual families keep writing to me agonising over what to do about this, given their inability to use the school language in school-bound ways, or to use it at all, or their unwillingness to comply, objecting to what they deem an intrusion: just like school language practices are decided in school, not at home, home language practices are decided at home, not in school. School recommendations of this kind reflect an intriguing view that multilingual schoolchildren must strive to become monolingual both in school and at home. They come not only from local schools in places traditionally associated with monolingualism, but also from international schools, whose designation itself traditionally associates with multilingualism. Why should multilingualism be undesirable for academic achievement? The answer might lie in simple ignorance of what multilingualism is.There is, first, the myth that multilingualism is subtractive by definition, whereby learning a new language means losing other languages. Second, the myth that only one language can promote ‘higher’ academic goals. And third, the myth that only school languages and school environments support intellectual sophistication. What’s ‘basic’, I wonder, about cooking dinner with our children, say? This is likely to take place at home rather than in school, through home languages rather than school ones, and this is doing science, besides being an excellent (and fun) way of honing cultural, gastronomic and maths skills. Other reasons to promote mainstream monolingualism, equally rooted in zero-sum ideologies, relate instead to power relations within communities. Entitlement to one’s languages (and to calling them languages rather than, say, dialects) carries entitlement to what those languages represent, and therefore threatens the entitlement of the powers that be to decide who is entitled to use which languages. Do we want to pursue the scenario described in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451? On first suspicion of Guy Montag’s deviation from standard book burning rituals, Captain Beatty lectures him: “We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, [...] but everyone made equal.” And he adds: “[T]he home environment can undo a lot you try to do at school. That’s why we’ve lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we’re almost snatching them from the cradle.” Or do we want to make it clear to ourselves and the children in our care that there is no conflict between home and school uses of language because they serve distinct environments? To my mind, school would be an ideal environment to teach children both that using language(s) at home and in school is a matter of appropriate choices, and why these choices matter. Where else, in fact, can we be educated about this? Simply suppressing inappropriate home uses of language in school won’t work, because we can’t make choices if we don’t know that there are choices to make. School-bound linguistic resources are not synonymous with ‘linguistic resources’, whether we’re monolingual or multilingual. We can talk about anything in any language, if we so wish, because the languages aren’t in charge: we are. If using the same language at home and in school were the key to enhanced academic accomplishment, children growing up in monolingual environments would outperform their multilingual peers academically. I’m sure that the parents who worry about these school recommendations would be very interested to know about research supporting this. So would I.In contrast to mythical beliefs in redemption through ‘higher’ monolingualism, what research does show is that nurturing the learners’ full linguistic repertoire in school favours academic achievement. Virginia Scott and María José de la Fuente show this in their paper What’s the Problem?, and so does Joana Duarte in ... Read more »

  • March 25, 2017
  • 02:06 PM
  • 305 views

Native multilinguals

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira in Being Multilingual

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Some of my language teaching students sometimes express out loud their heartfelt desire to become native speakers. I was quite baffled the first time I heard this: we’re all native speakers, surely, and we can’t become natives, if we take the word “native” to mean what I supposed it is meant to mean, ‘from birth’. But does it? It turned out that my students’ previous teacher training had included the mantra that “native” means ‘flawless’ in this collocation, and flawless, whatever we take this word to mean, is certainly something that all of us can at least aspire to become. This latter meaning of the word “native” has in fact been made quite explicit in the literature about “second” (or “foreign”) languages – with my profuse apologies for the scare quotes that will crop up all over this post: I’ve no idea what the scared words might mean, in this literature. This meaning explains, for example, why some of us think it a worthwhile endeavour to compare school language learners to “native speakers”, for purposes of language quality assessment. But there is a snag: if learning languages from birth entails flawless use of those languages, how come multilinguals across the board, including simultaneous multilinguals who learn more than one language from Day One, go on being compared to “native speakers”? The thing is that “native speaker” has yet a third meaning, ‘monolingual’, this time a covert one, which nevertheless heeds the overt, systematic practice of comparing any multilinguals to monolinguals. This meaning explains, for example, the virtual absence of acknowledgement that multilinguals can be “native” users of their languages. If we accept that multilingual proficiency should be assessed through comparison with “native” proficiency, then we’re saying that multilinguals and natives are two distinct kinds of language users, since we can’t compare a thing to itself.But there is another snag. If multilinguals aren’t native users of their languages, then they must be “non-native”, by the logic of the assumedly useful labels which populate research on language uses. However, they aren’t, because multilinguals get compared to non-natives, too. In addition, simultaneous multilinguals can’t be “non-native”, if their languages are there for them from Day One, which is one of the meanings of “native”. Multilinguals, in sum, appear to inhabit a Linguistic No Man’s Land.“Day One”, unfortunately, may not be what clinches the issue either. If the language(s) in which we’re brought up from birth happen to be imported languages, then those languages aren’t “ours”. And if we learn a new language in early childhood, though not exactly from Day One, how many days should we count to count as a native user of it? Can I, for example, claim French as native language, having lived with it from just before age 3? Or was I then already way past my native learning prime, as I must have been when I learned my other languages several years later? If you’re interested in the mysteries of “critical periods” which snipe at “native” language learning abilities, Carmen Muñoz and David Singleton’s state of the art discussion, A critical review of age-related research on L2 ultimate attainment, is a must-read. Scare-quoted terminological acrobatics about multilingualism would be hilarious, of course, if it didn’t appear in “serious” research, thereby proving that we’ve no idea what we’re talking about. Have a look in my article First language acquisition and teaching, to see what I mean. The muddle got compounded when researchers developed a preference for labelling the languages of a multilingual by means of numbers, possibly on the belief that identifying things by numbers makes them look scientifically unquestionable. There’s always some “L1” lurking in there somewhere, which means that there must be rankings of L2, ... Ln, where the numbers apparently serve the purpose of showing that languages either politely follow one another or should do so. But what do these numbers mean when, say, simultaneous multilinguals learn one or more new languages in school? Not much, it seems, because we prefer to stick to labels rather than acknowledge their undefinable uselessness. Since “L1” represents an inherently singular concept (in more than one sense of “singular”), the logic of cardinal and ordinal numbering requires that L1 = “first language”, whereby everyone must have a single “first” language, endowed with rights of primogeniture associated with other firstborns. If there’s no single chronological first language, no problem: we just assign one to children, for reasons of administrative expediency, and call it their “mother tongue”. Finally, by the logic that first = “best”, we end up talking about “dominant” and “balanced” languages, and about all the other hopeless labels which do no more than betray our hopeless beliefs that multilinguals are, in fact, funny monolinguals. This state of affairs may well explain why multilingualism goes on being blamed for anything that deviates from monolingualism, to which I’ll return some other day. Meanwhile, the next post, a guest post, goes back to where this post started, to report vivid encounters with “nativeness” from a language teacher who’s also had plenty of reasons to wonder about the meaning of this word.... Read more »

  • March 14, 2017
  • 09:26 PM
  • 379 views

‘I’m not listening to you!’ Interacting in a linguistically diverse society

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

On December 23, 2016, as most Australians were winding down for the holiday week ahead, Faysal Ishak Ahmed, a 27-year-old...... Read more »

Kenison TC, Madu A, Krupat E, Ticona L, Vargas IM, & Green AR. (2017) Through the Veil of Language: Exploring the Hidden Curriculum for the Care of Patients With Limited English Proficiency. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 92(1), 92-100. PMID: 27166864  

  • December 7, 2016
  • 06:36 PM
  • 610 views

Love on the Move: How Tinder is changing the way we date

by Livia Gerber in Language on the Move

A 2015 article in the New York Post argued that mobile dating apps, such as Tinder and its many clones,...... Read more »

  • November 23, 2016
  • 06:24 PM
  • 632 views

Interpreting English language ideologies in Korea: dreams vs. realities

by Lg_on_the_move in Language on the Move

Many people around the world dream of learning English. The pursuit of English is rarely only, or even predominantly, about language learning: it’s...... Read more »

  • November 10, 2016
  • 05:29 AM
  • 640 views

Building bridges in a divided world

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

As I am trying to finalize the manuscript for the second revised edition of my 2011 book Intercultural Communication: A...... Read more »

Markus, A. (2016) Australians Today: The Australia@2015 Scanlon Foundation Survey. Scanlon Foundation. info:/

  • November 4, 2016
  • 12:10 AM
  • 687 views

Stereotyped ethnic names as a barrier to workplace entry

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Who of the three women in this image do you think German employers are most likely to consider as a...... Read more »

  • October 27, 2016
  • 03:30 AM
  • 604 views

What makes foreigners weird? A quick guide to orientalism

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

One of the central arguments of my book Intercultural Communication is that, even today, much intercultural communication is approached from...... Read more »

Piller, I. (2011) Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. info:/

  • October 10, 2016
  • 08:15 PM
  • 658 views

How States Promote Global English: Shifting Priorities in Education

by Peter Ives in Language on the Move

We are repeatedly told that people around the world are choosing to learn and use English. The media and many...... Read more »

  • September 29, 2016
  • 02:21 AM
  • 671 views

Urban sociolinguistics in Dubai

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

A couple of years ago, I mused here on Language on the Move what linguistic theory would look like if...... Read more »

Piller, I. (2016) Dubai: Language in the ethnocratic, corporate and mobile city. Smakman, D. and P. Heinrich. Eds. Metrolinguistics: Urban Language Ecologies around the World. info:/

  • September 21, 2016
  • 01:46 AM
  • 686 views

Can ESL teachers play a role in helping maintain the home language?

by Agnes Bodis in Language on the Move








ESL teachers play an important role in home language maintenance (Image Credit: Macquarie University)
Learning the host country’s language is important for migrants but we should not forget that maintaining the home language is just as essential for the next generation’s success in life. Unfortunately, in Australia there are no policies in place that support the home language maintenance of languages other than English. In the absence of top-down approaches, changing teacher beliefs can be a grassroots way to support bilingual education and combat migrant disadvantage.
I teach “Planning and programming in TESOL” for English language teachers as part of the Graduate Certificate of TESOL program at Macquarie University in Sydney. A great proportion of our students are in-service teachers who have decided to specialize in English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) teaching. EAL/D teaching is delivered in a variety of ways, which include providing support to students who need help with English alongside a class teacher or collecting EAL/D students into a separate group and providing full-time intensive support. In 2015, 251,336 students (32.3% of all students) enrolled in New South Wales government schools had a language background other than English. And over 145, 000 students (ca. 20%) were learning English as an additional language.
Home language maintenance
As one of the assessment tasks, our in-service teacher students analyse their teaching context and pinpoint salient features in the given context. Many of them identify the fact that EAL/D students in Australian schools do not speak English at home as problematic. This view constitutes a ‘deficit’ model of bilingualism, meaning it concentrates on what negative effects speaking a minority language might have for migrant children and speaking another language is simply seen as an obstacle on the way towards integration.
How can we turn this belief around so that bilingualism comes to be seen as an advantage? Highlighting the long-term educational and cognitive effects of bilingualism constitutes one strategy. These benefits have been covered widely in the media (e.g., here) and also here on Language on the Move (e.g., here). Economic benefits may be another long-term effect of home language maintenance. US research has found that bilingual children of migrants have higher earnings in adulthood than their English-dominant counterparts (Agirdag, 2016, see here for details) and that biliteracy is associated with better educational and occupational attainment (Lee & Hatteberg, 2016, see here for details).
In sum, research consistently points to the fact that bilingualism should have priority in education over fast assimilation into the dominant language group for the future benefit of the children.
Contesting monolingualism in language policy
To enable a positive bilingual strategy, it needs to be backed up by language policy. Australian language and language-in-education policies unfortunately consistently result in monolingualism, as Schalley, Guillemin & Eisenchlas (2015) found in an examination of literacy policies from the past 30 years. These researchers found that “the more multilingual Australian society has become, the more assimilationist the policies and the more monolingual the orientation of the society politicians envisage and pursue” (p. 170). Much of this assimilation to English monolingualism is achieved indirectly. This means that even if language policies appear to promote and value diversity and bilingual learning, they may result in monolingual outcomes: “standardized assessment, year-group performance targets and league tables undermine diversity and bilingual learning and can be highly damaging to the academic achievement of minority students” (Piller, 2016, p. 139).
What can be done to overcome the monolingual bias of our language policies that fly in the face of the research evidence to support the benefits of bilingualism? Schalley, Guillemin & Eisenchlas (2015) emphasise the importance of grassroots activism to enhance home language literacy. It is precisely here where our TESOL program aims to make a difference.
Teachers as grassroots language activists
All too frequently we hear stories of migrant families changing the home language to English in response to advice from their child’s ESL teachers. To parents, recommendations like these may appear to be based on professional authority but they are not backed up by research. The English language learning benefits of switching the home language may be minimal, particularly if the parents lack confidence in their own English. Against this small or non-existent short-term English gains, we must consider the long-term harm to the home language: changing the home language to English deprives EAL/D children of the long-term educational and economic benefits of bilingualism.
Research related to the benefits of bilingualism and to strategies to support bilingualism at home and in school need to be available to teachers. An ideal platform for this is through teacher education, as in our TESOL program. Changing teacher beliefs must be considered an important form of grassroots activism for a bilingual Australia while we work towards a national language policy for our times.
References
Agirdag, O. (2016). The Long-Term Effects of Bilingualism on Children of Immigration: Student Bilingualism and Future Earnings. In I. Piller (Ed.), Language and Migration (Vol. 4, pp. 341-358). London: Routledge.
Lee, J. C., & Hatteberg, S. J. (2016). Bilingualism and Status Attainment among Latinos. In I. Piller (Ed.), Language and Migration (Vol. 4, pp. 359-386). London: Routledge.
Piller, I. (2016). Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice : An Introduction to Applied Sociolinguistics Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Schalley, A., Guillemin, D., & Eisenchlas, S. (2015). Multilingualism and assimilationism in Australia’s literacy-related educational policies International Journal of Multilingualism, 12 (2), 162-177 DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2015.1009372







... Read more »

  • September 15, 2016
  • 12:24 AM
  • 743 views

Language and migration

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Humans are a migratory species. Although in modern society the dominant imagery we have created about ourselves is that it...... Read more »

Piller, I. (2016) Language and migration. Language and migration, 1-20. info:/

  • September 6, 2016
  • 01:34 AM
  • 717 views

Why a multilingual social imagination matters

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2016 annual conference of the British Association of Applied...... Read more »

  • July 17, 2016
  • 05:57 AM
  • 821 views

Would you mind if your child wanted to become an interpreter?

by Jinhyun Cho in Language on the Move

I recently volunteered to give a presentation on the profession of translation and interpreting as a parent helper for a...... Read more »

  • June 5, 2016
  • 02:05 AM
  • 874 views

Why does English spread in global academia?

by Jinhyun Cho in Language on the Move

The Linguistic Ethnography Forum’s e-seminar devoted to Ingrid Piller’s recent book Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice: An Introduction to Applied...... Read more »

Piller, I., & Cho, J. (2013) Neoliberalism as language policy. Language in Society, 42(01), 23-44. DOI: 10.1017/S0047404512000887  

  • May 11, 2016
  • 02:10 AM
  • 925 views

Do monolingual teachers produce a Golem effect in multilingual students?

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Teacher expectations produce self-fulfilling prophecies in student performance: high teacher expectations result in students’ higher academic performance and low teacher...... Read more »

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