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Article

M. Obaidul Hamid and Md Maksud Ali

The relationship between language planning and education is described by terms such as language in education planning (LEP), which is a subtype of language policy and planning (LPP). Although LEP is limited in scope because of its association with education only, it has attained special significance because the broader societal language policies are usually enacted through the mechanism of LEP. A survey of LEP in theoretical and empirical terms is reported. Theoretically, the examination of the nature, context, purpose, and process of LEP with reference to a framework for policy translation is followed by a discussion of various directions of research in LPP and LEP to provide an understanding of what questions have driven the field, and what theoretical and methodological resources have been deployed for research. The empirical examination focuses on language in education policy in Asia to provide an understanding of what languages have been prioritized, what types of language programs have been implemented, what linguistic perspectives have underpinned those languages and programs, and what linguistic and social outcomes have been reported for this linguistically and culturally diverse region in the world. The review of selective studies shows that LEP in Asia has prioritized national language and English, giving limited attention to local minority languages. Although there is a growing recognition of linguistic diversity and multilingualism across the world, Asia seems to be still dominated by monolingual ideologies as reflected in the language programs. The continued dominance of English, which is brought to schools and higher education institutions as a language subject and/or a medium of instruction, is another observation. Language testing, which works as de facto language policy, also endorses the hegemony of English given its perceived instrumental value as a global lingua franca in a neoliberal world. An overview of where LEP with reference to Asia currently stands and how it may evolve in the future marks the conclusion.

Article

Second-language critical literacy refers to the application of the concepts and practices of critical literacy in contexts where individuals are using a language that is not the one they grew up with or were initially socialized into. “Second” means a language acquired either naturalistically or in instructed contexts that is somewhat distinct, at least conceptually, from a primary or so-called native language—learned in some sense earlier or better than a primary one (although these terms are at best simplifications of complex matters). Critical literacy is generally recognized as having evolved out of a line of work in the broad and comparatively long tradition of radical education associated with Paulo Freire. However, as different strands of critical literacy have become more developed, more established, and more visible, it is harder to determine lines of influence. It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that critical language pedagogy and critical literacy began to appear in reports from a range of countries. In Latin America, critical perspectives and pedagogies have a history of 200 years, existed before the Spanish conquest, and are not tied to Freire in particular, but result from a combination of social, cultural, political, and educational influences emerging in the region in the 19th century. These perspectives and pedagogies are multifaceted, polysemic, locally situated, and tied to each specific territory. This means that it is important to consider broad historical perspectives and to recognize the powerful macro-level factors that can eventually culminate in somewhat favorable conditions for critical literacy in specific contexts at the present time. Those conditions may not last, incidentally. Finally, to answer the question “How can practical instructional programs in the area of second language critical literacy be designed, developed, and implemented?” it seems that critical re-design can be a useful approach in the classroom. Critical re-design refers to the process, somewhat analogous to Freire’s emphasis on gaining distance from a problem, by which students analyze an issue so as to be able to act on it “to make a positive difference” in their social milieu. It is through detailed analysis of the issue and its connection to students’ lives, and the use of imagination, that the possibility of making a difference becomes actual.

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

G. Sue Kasun, Patricia Sánchez, and David Martínez-Prieto

Transnationalism describes the ways in which ties between two or more nations are maintained; these ties abound in social practices that are, at times, situated within rigid governing structures. Transnationalism implies not only physical movement across borders, commonly referred to as “immigration,” but also emotional ties across borders. It also includes distinct ways of knowing that are informed by social media, loved ones, and cultural practices that span borders. The transnational social spaces in which youth are raised are often filled with deep understandings of geopolitical contexts that weave together multiple national perspectives, personal navigation of physical borders (both with and without authorized documentation), and complex social networks in more than one country sustained through ever-changing media applications. However, these knowledges often remain unengaged in and underacknowledged by schools. The disciplines of sociology and anthropology have informed much of the research on transnationalism, although from different standpoints. Sociology has taken a more literal sense of transnationalism, focusing narrowly on physical bodies’ movements back-and-forth over borders. Anthropologists have more robustly engaged the emotional and psychological aspects of transnationalism as it impacts the groups generally described as “immigrants.” Unfortunately, most of the research related to transnational children and education has been under the larger framework of assimilation. The unfortunate result is that the focus on how immigrants assimilate misses the opportunity to interpret (and perhaps misinterprets) a larger set of accompanying phenomena alongside the immigration act. For education, transnational experiences can help students develop a sense of identity, which in turn helps them achieve in the school settings of both receiving and sending countries, should they have to return. Similarly, transnationalism complicates and makes notions of citizenship more robust. Immigrant students are always potentially engaged transnationals during their settlement processes—the possibility exists that they will remain actively connected to their home countries and even potentially return for visits or permanently. Educational research has more recently examined how transnationalism helps create and can deepen literacy practices, especially digital literacies. Numerous education scholars have called for educators to draw upon students’ transnational lives in the curriculum. This can help prepare all students for an increasingly globalized world. This does not suggest a “learning styles” approach in which transnational students are considered a monolithic group in need of a repertoire of instructional strategies to meet the group’s needs. Instead, educators need to create the space in which students’ transnational experiences and perceptions are allowed to be aired, understood, and built upon in schools. In education, the commonly stated goal is for the classroom to function as a “community of learners.” If, in fact, educators aspire to build true communities, transnational students’ lives should no longer remain hidden from the view of their peers and teachers.

Article

Sunny Man Chu Lau

Critical approaches to English as a second language (ESL) education in Canada broadly fall under two intersecting orientations—inclusivity-focused and issue-focused. Inclusivity-focused education refers to critical approaches to ESL that valorize minoritized and/or Indigenous students’ voices, languages, and other semiotic resources in learning (in) English. This inclusive orientation aims to challenge systemic marginalization of multicultural voices and identities, destabilize static notions of languages and other modes of communication, and importantly, decolonize inequitable power structures inherent in academic and broader social setting. An issue-focused approach adopts an explicit critical agenda, using eco-social issues as the foci of curricular content to engage students in critical interrogation of social assumptions and participation in related class-based action research to simultaneously learn the language and enact change in broader communities. Recent trends in critical issue-focused inquiries also draw on posthumanist, socio-materialist, and Indigenous perspectives to offer more complex, interconnected, and distributed views of language learning and social change. These perspectives not only urge for alternative ways (cognitive, bodily, multi-sensory, affective, and spatial) of critical engagement but also a more human decentering perspective to understand the ethical interdependence of the human/non-human world.

Article

Robyn Seglem and Antero Garcia

Multiliteracies were first conceptualized in 1994 by the New London Group (NLG), a group of global scholars who specialized in different aspects of literacy instruction including classroom discourse, multilingual teaching and learning, new technologies, critical discourse and literacy, linguistics, cultural and social educations, semiotics, and visual literacy. Published in 1996, the NLG focused on equalizing the power dynamics within education by moving away from traditional print-based literacies that privilege the cultural majority who hold the most wealth and power in the world. Their work seeks to elevate those who are traditionally marginalized by embracing literacies that leverage multiple languages, discourses, and texts. Multiliteracies have been widely adopted, expanded upon, and contested in academia, but classroom teachers have been much slower in adopting them. Although systems of accountability and standardization contribute to a slow adoption of multiliteracies practices, teachers have found ways to integrate multiliteracies into instruction. In doing so, students are provided with more linguistic capital and a deeper understanding of how meaning is made across multiple contexts.

Article

As more linguistically diverse students populate classrooms around the world including the United States, providing them with equitable and rigorous learning experiences through critical literacy has become a pressing issue in the field of education. By focusing on basic language and literacy skills, English language learners (ELLs) have rarely been exposed to critical literacy, a force to empower them as active learners. One of the major reasons is based on the misconception that ELLs, who are learning English, might not have the ability to critique and analyze texts, issues, and realities. More recent empirical studies challenge this misconception by showing the possibilities of ELLs’ engagement in critical literacy practices. The specific frameworks developed by language and literacy scholars have contributed to making critical literacy theory a more applicable and approachable practice. Despite the possibilities shown from recent research in classroom contexts, challenges also exist from both micro- and macrolevels. Challenges include the absence of fundamental critical literacy tenets from the school curriculum and policy, the absence of required critical literacy coursework from many pre- and in-service teacher education programs, and educator discomfort, rooted in misconceptions and false assumptions, with the implementation of critical literacy strategies in their classrooms. Both challenges and possibilities provide directions to the field of critical language and literacy education for future research and practice as ways to address affording equitable access for increasingly diverse ELLs.

Article

As contemporary societies continue to integrate digital technologies into varying aspects of everyday life—including work, schooling, and play—the concept of digital game-based learning (DGBL) has become increasingly influential. The term DGBL is often used to characterize the relationship of computer-based games (including games played on dedicated gaming consoles and mobile devices) to various learning processes or outcomes. The concept of DGBL has its origins in interdisciplinary research across the computational and social sciences, as well as the humanities. As interest in computer games and learning within the field of education began to expand in the late 20th century, DGBL became somewhat of a contested term. Even foundational concepts such as the definition of games (as well as their relationship to simulations and similar artifacts), the affordances of digital modalities, and the question of what “counts” as learning continue to spark debate among positivist, interpretivist, and critical framings of DGBL. Other contested areas include the ways that DGBL should be assessed, the role of motivation in DGBL, and the specific frameworks that should inform the design of games for learning. Scholarship representing a more positivist view of DGBL typically explores the potential of digital games as motivators and influencers of human behavior, leading to the development of concepts such as gamification and other uses of games for achieving specified outcomes, such as increasing academic measures of performance, or as a form of behavioral modification. Other researchers have taken a more interpretive view of DGBL, framing it as a way to understand learning, meaning-making, and play as social practices embedded within broader contexts, both local and historical. Still others approach DGBL through a more critical paradigm, interrogating issues of power, agency, and ideology within and across applications of DGBL. Within classrooms and formal settings, educators have adopted four broad approaches to applying DGBL: (a) integrating commercial games into classroom learning; (b) developing games expressly for the purpose of teaching educational content; (c) involving students in the creation of digital games as a vehicle for learning; and (d) integrating elements such as scoreboards, feedback loops, and reward systems derived from digital games into non-game contexts—also referred to as gamification. Scholarship on DGBL focusing on informal settings has alternatively highlighted the socially situated, interpretive practices of gamers; the role of affinity spaces and participatory cultures; and the intersection of gaming practices with the lifeworlds of game players. As DGBL has continued to demonstrate influence on a variety of fields, it has also attracted criticism. Among these critiques are the question of the relative effectiveness of DGBL for achieving educational outcomes. Critiques of the quality and design of educational games have also been raised by educators, designers, and gamers alike. Interpretive scholars have tended to question the primacy of institutionally defined approaches to DGBL, highlighting instead the importance of understanding how people make meaning through and with games beyond formal schooling. Critical scholars have also identified issues in the ethics of DGBL in general and gamification in particular as a form of behavior modification and social control. These critiques often intersect and overlap with criticism of video games in general, including issues of commercialism, antisocial behaviors, misogyny, addiction, and the promotion of violence. Despite these criticisms, research and applications of DGBL continue to expand within and beyond the field of education, and evolving technologies, social practices, and cultural developments continue to open new avenues of exploration in the area.

Article

The issue of language is a fundamental factor for redressing social inequalities in education. Language is also central to policy measures and management reflections, on political events and social processes that are often not factored in education policy discussions in Angola. Critical stance affords a growing acceptance of teaching and learning as a complex situated social practice. Critical multiculturalism insights and perspectives on language rights enable theproblematization of the media of instruction policies and how existing education policies downplay the question of inequalities to access quality education based on social class and race in Angolan education. Language education policies in Angola represent colonial legacy. Lusotropicalism ideologies are often used to reinforce colonial social and cultural imaginaries that result in disenfranchised indigenous communities. Thus, in the context of globalization, in which immigration imposes rapid changes in the sociolinguistic landscape of the country, initiatives aiming to promote the use of African languages in education (acquisition planning) might provide an opportunity for people who viscerally suffer from the marginalization of these languages. However, the opportunity to carve out a space for candid debate on the issues of language, social class, and education are fraught with tensions due to the fact that the issue of language, education, and race remains a taboo that has not deserved any systematic attention on the part of the government and educationists in particular. Therefore, complementarity between literacy teaching in African languages and Portuguese might project African languages into the linguistic market, provide privileged planning opportunities, and develop an educational system toward bilingual and multilingual literacy. In the heyday of postnational ideologies, language diversity is an asset that needs to be harnessed through critical engagement and critical multicultural education, while recognizing the role that language plays in enabling and disabling both majority and minority groups to access social, cultural, and economic resources that are necessary for surviving in the increasingly commodified and globalized world.