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Article

Usree Bhattacharya

In India, the teaching of English, a British colonial import and imposition, occurs within an ideologically contested, socioeconomically stratified, and politically charged terrain. Several centuries after its first arrival on Indian shores, English remains a minority, elite language, accessible mostly to urban dwellers and those in the middle and upper classes. Therefore, its present-day circulation helps reproduce and sustain colonial language hierarchies. Significantly, ideologies about English span a wide spectrum, from the language being cast as an illness, to its being seen as a necessary evil for progress, to its being heralded as a vital instrument for uplifting the poor and marginalized. Furthermore, the idea of an indigenized “Indian English” holds sway in the scholarly imagination, even as it is unclear what shape its porous boundaries take within the national consciousness. In perpetual dialog with other Indian languages, English is constantly negotiating a role in India’s rich multilingual networks. Crucially, it functions as the most powerful medium of instruction in the country, firmly regulating access to socioeconomic mobility and higher education. English instruction in India was established to serve colonial interests, and the traces of this past remain in contemporary pedagogical practices. Further, English instruction faces a variety of challenges in India today, including infrastructure constraints, complexities of multilingual pedagogy, rigid grammar translation pedagogy and rote-learning practices, teaching to the test, widespread use of inappropriate and culturally insensitive textbooks, and inadequate investment in teacher training. English controls access to power, prestige, and privilege in modern India; these factors, among others, play a determining role in perpetuating educational inequality across classes. Shining a light on the context in which English instruction occurs in India is thus both an educational and a social justice imperative.

Article

The work of Dell Hymes has been highly influential in language education and the field of linguistics more generally. Questions about the appropriateness of engaging with his work have been raised following allegations of sexual harassment during his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania. However, the radical nature of his work and its role in demonstrating that language was co-constitutive of the social, historical, and political contexts of its speakers requires engagement, particularly given the challenges facing language education in the early 21st century. Hymes’ identification of the communicative event as fundamental to an understanding of language has been instrumental in the development of an influential collection of approaches now collectively referred to as communicative language teaching (CLT). Hymes’ sociologically informed concept of communicative competence, developed in reaction to Chomsky’s notions of linguistic competence and performance, has also been highly influential in language education research and practice. Subsequently, concerns have been raised about the recontextualization of Hymes’ work and the disconnect between idealized notions of communicative competence as they appear in contexts of language education and the actual language use in speech communities. From a conceptual standpoint, re-engagement with Hymes’ work is needed to reorient CLT and corresponding notions of communicative competence to their sociological bases. Hymes understood the speech community as the context par excellence for describing language, and therefore it should also inform the orientation of language education to communication. This can be achieved by allowing ethnographic work to play a larger role in contexts of language education. Advances in digital communications technology offer many such opportunities, removing proximal requirements for observing and interacting with target speech communities and providing access to digital artifacts produced by the community. As language education faces challenges driven by rapidly changing political, sociological, and technological circumstances, Hymes’ insights about the inherent inequality of language and its relationship with the political and social dimensions of speech communities remain highly relevant. Re-engaging with a Hymesian understanding of communicative competence means recognizing the contextually dependent bases for judgments about language and the variation that exists between individuals even within the same speech community. Hymes saw that the path to a more aware, more just society ran through this understanding of communicative competence, and so language education must look to this understanding if it seeks to transform the role that language plays in our social and political lives.

Article

In the digital era, written communication for children and youth is changing. As texts and media include complex intersections of print, image, sound, and other modalities, the ways in which writing is conceived is shifting. The evolution and impact of digital technologies follow a long history of invention, innovation, and change in written communication, with critiques of writing and communication technologies present in both historical and contemporary contexts. A new development in contemporary digital culture is the significant and widespread participation of children and youth in digital media and communication due to the ubiquity, affordances, and appeal of mobile digital devices. In the history of writing instruction, pedagogical approaches and perspectives have continued to evolve, with the teaching of writing at times positioned as subordinate to the teaching of reading, a pattern that has repeated into the digital era in which an emphasis on digital writing production and text creation has been similarly less of a focus than receptive consumption of media. Shifts in digital practice and the emergence of new devices for writing present both challenges and opportunities for the teaching of writing and the creation of texts in schools, with issues of digital resource provision and access to technology presenting hurdles for some teachers. Teacher awareness of the digital worlds, practices, and “funds of knowledge” that students are bringing to the writing classroom is vital to reimagining the writing classroom within contemporary digital culture. In the 21st century, writing instruction needs to be inclusive of the operational demands of writing as well as sociocultural and critical requirements, in addition to responding to fluid technoliteracy contexts and consideration of how “writing” itself is changing.

Article

Decolonizing girlhood illuminates an attempt to refuse and recover the pathological representation of Indigenous refugee girls by going beyond the discourse of the Western construction of girlhood. It takes an anticolonial, critical race feminist approach to the understanding of girlhood that challenges the intersectional, racialized exclusion and the deficit representations of Indigenous refugee girls, which are often reinforced by humanitarian schemes of embodied vulnerability. The digital visual fiction stories created by Karen tribe refugee girls in a media arts summer workshop reposition their presence by creating spaces in which they can speak their own desires, share their imaginings, and portray their struggles. Through this experience, these girls challenge colonial social realities and the fantasies of democracy. Ultimately, their futuristic visual fiction acts as a form of counter-storytelling that illustrates an alternative curriculum space and flips the hegemonic script for empowerment.

Article

Asia literacy is an Australian education policy goal intended to educate Australian school students about Asian languages, cultures, and economies and, in turn, deepen Australian engagement with the Asian region. First defined in 1988, the concept has since been adapted by a suite of Asia education policies with more than 60 relevant policy documents having been published since the 1950s. However, despite being a cornerstone education policy, political vagaries have prevented the widespread and sustained implementation of Asia literacy education in schools. Tied to the broader goal of engaging with Asia, Asia literacy is in conflict with a sense of an Australian national identity and entangled with Australian economic, education, and foreign policies. A thematic review of the extant policy data and scholarly literature reveals several flaws in Asia literacy policy. Namely, it is underpinned by several assumptions: Asia literacy is learned in formal education; Asia is a knowable entity; proficiency in languages, cultures, and economies equates to Asia literacy; and Asia literacy is assumed to resolve national disengagement from Asia. This approach fails to account for everyday Asia literacy enlivened in the multicultural and multilingual Australian society. Scholars have argued that this “others” Asia from everyday Australian life. The implications of this model of Asia literacy play out in the classroom with few teachers reporting confidence in teaching Asia literacy content, and enrollments in Asia-related subjects being perpetually low. Newer policy imperatives which stipulate the teaching and learning of intercultural competencies may help to dissolve the construct of the Asian other and enliven Asia literacy in the classroom beyond knowledge of languages and cultures. If pursued, this can foster dynamic knowledge of Asia in Australian schools, bringing Asia closer to the everyday and enhancing engagement with the Asian region.

Article

Since the latter half of the 20th century, resource pedagogies have been encouraged in U.S. teacher education programs and promoted through in-service teacher professional development sessions. Resource pedagogies resist deficit perspectives by taking an asset-based perspective of cultural and linguistic difference. Asset-based perspectives differ from traditional, deficit-oriented schooling practice by viewing the rich cultural, linguistic, and literacy practices and knowledges of students from communities that have been historically marginalized by White middle-class normed policies as valuable assets. Major resource pedagogies have evolved since their emergence in response to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, educational researchers and practitioners have advanced multicultural education, culturally relevant pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching, and culturally sustaining pedagogies to address educational inequities and narrow the opportunity gap between students from dominant communities and those that have been historically marginalized. Although numerous researchers and classroom practitioners have demonstrated the power of these asset-based pedagogies to improve student engagement and academic achievement for students from historically marginalized communities, they are still not widely incorporated in practice. Controversies around the conceptualization, conflation, and implementation of the various asset-based approaches to teaching and learning push educational researchers and practitioners to continue to refine and transform education.

Article

The field of transnational childhood and education emerges under intensifying mobilities. These global conditions disrupt universalist educational treatments of childhood as a fixed developmental stage of human being. Transnationality shows childhood to be a psychosocially constructed experience that takes myriad form across diverse cultural, historical, educational, and political contexts. The lives of actual children are caught in colonial and national constructions of childhood and subject to its discourses, politics, and normative enactments through public schooling. The emerging field of transnational childhood and education represents a potentially critical intervention in colonial and national enactments of childhood worldwide. Despite interdisciplinary efforts to reconceptualize childhood, Western educational institutions continue to hold to and reproduce hegemonic and colonial understandings of childhood as monocultural, heteronormative, familial, innocent, and protected. Mass global flows of people, culture, and ideas compel policy-makers and educational experts worldwide to consider transnational childhood as the dominant situation of children in and across multicultural nations. The fluidity of malleable childhood experience is poised to generate new educational arrangements and innovations. Transnational lives of children de-stable normative categorizations and fixed situations placed upon children in and through the mechanisms of early childhood education and national schooling. Researchers of transnational childhood and education engage a range of educational experiences and arrangements of children moving within, across, and outside of formal and national schooling institutions. Increasingly children and families are caught in experiences produced by global, geo-political conditions including: war, forcible migration, detainment on borders, internal colonization, and environmental catastrophe. To respond to the times, families and communities seek out and/or are forced to provide opportunities and alternatives for children outside of school. Increasingly children use emergent digital and other forms of remote and inventive means of education. As research in this area is new, transdisciplinary, and ground-breaking, the study of transnational childhoods and education has the potential to radically innovate and deepen the meanings and possibilities of both childhood and education in a rapidly globalizing, uncertain, and changing world.

Article

From the 1960s to the early 21st century, different terms have arisen in diverse research traditions and educational contexts where teachers and researchers are interested in exploring and researching ways of helping learners to learn both language and content at the same time. These terms include content-based instruction (CBI), immersion, sheltered instruction, language across the curriculum (LAC), writing across the curriculum (WAC), and content and language integrated learning (CLIL). Common to all these traditions, however, is the monoglossic and monolingual assumption about academic language and literacy. The dynamic process turn in applied linguistics has changed our view of the nature of language, languaging, and language learning processes. These new theoretical insights led to a transformation of research on LAC toward research on academic languages and literacies in the disciplines. A paradigm shift from monoglossic to heteroglossic assumptions is also particularly important in English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) contexts.

Article

The question of how best to teach learners who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) is perhaps the oldest topic in any area of education for children with diverse learning needs. Developments in a number of fields have accounted for more DHH learners achieving educational outcomes commensurate with their hearing-age peers than at any point in that long history. Efforts to further develop and implement effective educational practices with these learners continue, with an abundance of interventions proposed in the literature and in practice. Despite this, evidence for their efficacy remains limited. Such evidence as there is tends to be drawn from observations of professional practice and not always from the outcomes of high-quality research. This is not to say that a lack of research evidence for a particular educational practice means that it is necessarily ineffective or should not be used. Rather, it is to acknowledge the preeminence of quality research outcomes as the cornerstone of an evidence-base for educational practice with DHH learners while recognizing that contributions can come from two other sources: the expertise and experiences of professionals involved in the education of DHH learners in educational settings, and the views and preferences of DHH learners and their families about how the best educational outcomes can be achieved. The vast majority of DHH learners are educated in regular classrooms alongside their hearing peers, including a significant minority whose primary or preferred language is a signed language. Questions of how best to facilitate access to regular classrooms for those DHH learners are inextricably linked to issues in three areas: (a) communication, language, and literacy; (b) classroom access; and (c) pedagogical practices and other educational supports. The first area covers the unique set of challenges that relate to DHH learners acquiring a language (i.e., whether that be spoken or signed) and how best to support their ongoing development and use of their communication, language, and literacy skills in the classroom. The other two sets of issues, relate to the difficulties that are typically encountered by DHH learners in gaining access to the regular classroom curriculum through their preferred language and mode of communication (i.e., how best to access the auditory and visual environment of the classroom on an equitable basis with their hearing peers), and how best to support that access through instructional techniques and/or specialist support services. In all three areas there remains the challenge of assembling an evidence base for practice from quality research evidence.

Article

Scholars, teachers, clinicians, and the general public have puzzled over the nature and consequences of severe reading (decoding) problems for more than a century. With the advances of genetics, neuroscience, and psychology, we know much about the underlying nature of reading disability. However, we still have much to learn, and fierce debate continues about whether there is a subgroup of poor readers who can, or should, be called dyslexic. This issue has become highly contentious, as gaining the label can bring significant benefits in terms of resourcing, various forms of test and classroom accommodation, and more positive and understanding responses from others. Many clinicians argue that special cognitive tests are needed to identify and diagnose those with dyslexia. These may take the form of general tests of IQ, or measures of more specific cognitive or executive functioning. Despite their popularity, the evidence for the utility of such measures is low, and many of the processes examined are often problematic for all poor readers, not merely the subgroup deemed to have dyslexia. A further difficulty concerns intervention. There is no strong scientific support for the notion that intervention programs designed to improve underlying cognitive processes (e.g., memory processes) can successfully improve the reading accuracy of those who struggle to acquire literacy. Similarly, interventions geared to improve visual or motor functioning have not proven successful, despite often vociferous support from adherents. The only approach that has strong scientific support takes the form of an educational program that utilizes systematic, structured phonics teaching as part of a broader literacy curriculum. This finding applies equally to those who have been diagnosed as dyslexic and those poor readers who haven’t. For this reason, it is unclear how a dyslexia diagnosis helps to inform the nature of subsequent intervention. In establishing effective forms of intervention that can cater for any child who struggles with their reading, it would appear most efficacious to utilize what is known as a “response to intervention” approach. This requires early identification of, and intervention with, all those who are making limited progress. Intervention should only utilize those approaches that have strong scientific support. The nature and extent of additional educational support should be determined on the basis of the progress that is made when additional help is given. If insufficient progress has resulted, it may well be necessary to increase and intensify the intervention. Such an approach helps to ensure that all struggling children are helped at an early stage, and no one is missed because of an absence of parental advocacy or a lack of family resource that can cover the cost of diagnostic assessment.