English Education, broadly defined, is the study of the teaching and learning of English teacher education. The curriculum of English Education addresses all aspects of reading and writing, including language and rhetoric, and the teaching of those entities. Historically, the field has been punctuated by contention, with debates over what texts, contexts, and approaches should be included, and has been subject to the political influences that have impacted all public education, ranging from calls for progressive approaches that are student-centered to an emphasis on standards and accountability. Intertwined with these forces have been scholars whose theories greatly affected teachers’ approaches, especially related to the teaching of literature and methods for writing. While some movements advocated for basic skills and isolated drills, others pushed for a more critical and culturally situated English Education that expanded traditional notions of literacy to include social practices. Scholarship and research in the field mirrored these trends, with much focus on preservice teacher education, secondary students’ performance, and teachers’ use of various strategies to further engage youth. Future directions for the field include more classroom-based research on how English Education can respond to the demands of our technology-saturated and media-driven society as well as longitudinal studies of English teachers from preservice through their induction years to further study the impacts of their preparation programs.
English Education in the United States
Multilingualism in Monolingual Schools and the German Example
The majority of European countries consider themselves as monolingual nation-states. Some exceptions are countries composed of different linguistic territories, such as Belgium and Switzerland. Another form of exception is countries where certain territories are inhabited by linguistic minorities who are granted particular linguistic rights. Monolingualism with exceptions for special constellations or cases is therefore considered the “linguistic normality” in European nations. This understanding of normality is also reflected in the nations’ public institutions and is particularly pronounced in the national education systems. The linguistic reality in Europe, however, contrasts with this notion of normality. Since time immemorial, the regions that have become European nation-states have been characterized by linguistic diversity, not only across but also within their boundaries. Since the second half of the 20th century, however, the number of languages that are vital and used daily has considerably increased. The most important driver of this development is international migration. Some European countries—Germany in particular—belong to the most attractive immigration destinations of the world. Despite of this reality, European national education systems largely persist in their monolingual mindset—or in other words: in a monolingual habitus. This ambiguity can be amply illustrated by the example of the German education system. Education research shows that it belongs to the causes of educational disadvantage for children from immigrant families. This is precisely why innovation initiatives have been launched to mitigate the risks to teaching and learning associated with multilingualism, while making the best use of the resources offered by linguistic diversity to all children—be they growing up in monolingual or multilingual families.
Biliteracy Development in a Dynamic and Changing World
In many communities around the world, speakers learn and speak more than one or two languages, so multilingualism and multiliteracy are habits and ways to communicate. In fact, it is well documented now that bilingualism and multilingualism are wider practices than any kind of monolingualism that might exist and that might be predominant in a particular country. Consequently, the world is becoming increasingly aware of the value of multiculturalism as part of a knowledgeable society. Studies in both schools and communities continuously support the theory that bilinguals learning two languages simultaneously have the potential to develop literacy in two languages when this is supported in their environment and when given access to opportunities to read and write within relevant biliteracy experiences. These opportunities are provided when linguistic and cultural resources are part of day-to-day interactions, and emergent bilinguals, who develop two languages from a young age, take part in them.
Indigenous Language Revitalization
Anne Marie Guerrettaz and Mel M. Engman
Countless Indigenous languages around the world are the focus of innovative community regeneration efforts, as the legacies of colonialism have created conditions of extreme sociopolitical, educational, and economic adversity for the speakers of these languages—and their descendants. In response to these conditions that Indigenous people face globally, the burgeoning field of Indigenous language revitalization and maintenance has emerged since the 1990s with the goal of supporting speakers of these languages and future generations. Indigenous language revitalization involves different but often interlocking domains of research, practice, and activism. Given the uniqueness of each community and their desires, history, values, and culture, the significance of the local is critical to the global phenomenon that is language revitalization. For instance, cases on five different continents offer valuable insights into this field, including the Hawaiian language in Oceania; Myaamia in the United States (North America); Básáa in the Cameroon (Africa); Sámi in Finland (Europe); and, Cristang and Malay in Malaysia (Asia). These offer examples of both local resources and common challenges that characterize revitalization efforts. The field of Indigenous language revitalization is interdisciplinary in nature, exemplified through five lines of inquiry that significantly contribute to this area of research: (a) theoretical linguistics and anthropology, (b) applied linguistics, (c) education, (d) policy studies, and (e) critical studies, including postcolonial studies, Indigenous studies, and raciolinguistics. Questions of research ethics are central to the field of Indigenous language revitalization since reciprocity and collaboration between researchers and Indigenous communities matter as the lifeblood of Indigenous language revitalization work. Finally, we believe that the notion of Indigenous language revitalization pedagogies along with underexplored Indigenous concepts (e.g., from Yucatecan and Māori scholars) offer compelling directions for future research.
Reading Comprehension, Language, and Theory of Mind Skills in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children
Kaye Scott and Louise Paatsch
Learning to read is a complex process that is a fundamental skill essential for life in the 21st century. Historically, the reading comprehension skills of many deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children have lagged significantly behind typically hearing children of the same age. In recent years, advances in hearing assistive devices, the introduction of newborn hearing screening, and earlier fitting of appropriate devices leading to earlier intervention have impacted positively on the language and reading comprehension skills of DHH children. Many DHH children, however, still do not develop reading comprehension skills commensurate with their peers. While much is known about how children learn to read, research continues to advance the understanding of these complex and nuanced skills. Recent research supports the inference that Theory of Mind (ToM) skills contribute to reading comprehension development in DHH children. This research emphasizes the interplay between ToM skills and the ability to understand emotional state terms and mental state words, as well as answer “why” questions. Interventions designed to develop ToM skills have been useful in supporting the development of DHH children’s ToM and reading comprehension skills, and this has implications for teachers. Some simple to implement strategies that may contribute to the development of ToM skills in DHH children include the use of “why” questions and the integration of emotional state terms and mental state words into the student’s program. The paucity of research regarding the interplay between ToM and reading comprehension, however, highlights the warrant for further research in this area.
Language Education of Asian Migrant Students in North America
Guofang Li, Zhongfeng Tian, and Huili Hong
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, media and education have devoted increasing attention to Asian students’ intensified experiences of anti-Asian racism. However, less attention has been devoted to their language and literacy development, which is central to their social and academic success in schooling. Situated within an expanded view of linguistic, cultural, racial, and economic diversity among Asian ethnic groups, studies in the past decade mainly address two areas—mainstream language education and heritage language (HL) education of K–12 Asian migrant students in North America. Research on mainstream language education reveals “hidden” achievement gaps among Asian subgroups and Asian learners’ continuous struggles with negotiating multiple intersecting language, culture, gender, and racial identities; racial profiling; and pathologizing actions from mainstream White educators and peers, arguing against the monolithic model minority stereotypes. The mis/missed-representation of Asian languages and cultures in the mainstream curriculum further reinforces the dominant deficit discourses against Asian learners in the classrooms. Studies on HL education mainly concentrate on three areas: parental support and involvement at home, community language schools, and world language and immersion programs in K–12 schools. While they each provide Asian students with great opportunities to maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage and to cultivate positive ethnic identities, challenges remain in finding innovative and effective ways to foster sustainable HL development and to develop critical consciousness among different stakeholders to combat racial injustices. There is an urgent need for both mainstream and HL educators to adopt critical pedagogies and create humanizing spaces to better serve Asian migrant students in North American K–12 classroom settings.
Language Planning and Education in Asia
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.
Critical Literacy: A Case from Argentina and Its Implications
Melina Porto and Graham V. Crookes
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.
The Teaching of English in India
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.
Dell Hymes and Language Education
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.