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Learning English Out of School: An Inclusive Approach to Research and Action

by Emilee Moore (Volume editor) Claudia Vallejo (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection 172 Pages
Open Access

Summary

This volume reports on the main results of the research project Inclusive epistemologies and practices of out-of-school English learning. The study reacts to low attainment levels in English as a foreign language among socioeconomically disadvantaged youth. The contributors to this volume research teenagers’ existing practices of using and learning English out of school time and implement new, inclusive, nonformal English language educational initiatives. They evaluate the impact of the nonformal English language educational initiatives implemented and support their sustainability and transferability. The project embeds collaborative and arts-based methods into its methodology, fostering inclusive and creative educational practices and ways of knowing.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction. Inclusive epistemologies and practices of out-of-school English learning (Emilee Moore)
  • Out-of-school language learning and educational equity (Emilee Moore / Claudia Vallejo / Melinda Dooly / Eulàlia Borràs)
  • Is English important in your life? A collaborative experience in a secondary school (Víctor Corona / Claudia Vallejo / Emilee Moore / Jorge Solans)
  • Learning English in translocal exchanges in Instagram chat (Cèlia Pratginestós / Dolors Masats)
  • The affordances of an arts-based approach for building opportunities for young people’s learning (Emilee Moore / Margaret R. Hawkins)
  • Participant roles in linguistic mediation activities in a digital storytelling project (Miaomiao Zhang / Júlia Llompart Esbert)
  • Making Colin the poet real. English language learning as embodied action, aesthetics and emotion (Emilee Moore / Mandy Deal / Almudena Herrera)
  • Final reflections (Emilee Moore / Andy Morodo)
  • Appendix
  • Contributors
  • Series index

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Emilee Moore

Introduction
Inclusive epistemologies and practices
of out-of-school English learning

Abstract Official indicators suggest that English as a Foreign Language is one of the school subjects that is most telling of social inequalities in Catalonia, this being the geographical and educational context where the research presented in this volume was carried out. Similar findings are reported in other areas of Europe. This monograph reports on the main findings of the research project ‘Inclusive epistemologies and practices of out-of-school English learning (IEP!)’, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and led by the author of this chapter, which ran from January 2019 until June 2021. The project responded to low attainment levels for English as a Foreign Language among socioeconomically disadvantaged youth in a municipality in the metropolitan area surrounding Barcelona. As part of this project, the contributors to this volume: 1) collaboratively researched teenagers’ existing practices of using and learning English out of school time; 2) implemented new, inclusive, nonformal English language educational initiatives; 3) evaluated the impact of the nonformal English language educational initiatives implemented; and 4) supported the sustainability and transferability of the initiatives. The project embedded collaborative and creative ways of working and building knowledge into its methodology, and in this sense, it aimed to contest traditional researcher-researched and logocentric hierarchies of knowledge, and to foster not only inclusive educational practices, but also inclusive epistemologies.

Keywords: English as a Foreign Language, out-of-school, youth, collaboration, creativity, inclusion

1. Introduction

All students in their fourth – and thus final – year of compulsory secondary schooling (educació secundària obligatòria or ESO) in Catalonia, the geographical and educational context where the research presented in this volume was carried out, sit core competences tests. These young people, who are approximately 15 years of age at the time of testing, are assessed in Science and Technology, Mathematics, Catalan, Spanish and English (English being a required subject throughout compulsory schooling, from the age of six, Catalan being the vehicular language of schooling, and Spanish being taught as a second language and/←7 | 8→or used as a medium of instruction in other curricular subjects). The results of this assessment of core competences reveal significant differences between young people in more and less affluent areas. According to recent data (Consell Superior d’Avaluació del Sistema Educatiu, 2019), 27 % of students at schools labelled ‘high complexity’ (a category used by Catalan educational authorities which is determined by indicators including low socioeconomic status and a high number of recent migrants) do not achieve the minimum required competences in English, compared with only 3.7 % of students from ‘low complexity’ schools. Furthermore, English is the subject area with most difference in achievement levels between students from high and low complexity schools. These results are particularly noteworthy because while the outcomes of students from high complexity schools for English are consistently low, the English results of students from low complexity schools are higher than their results for all other subjects and this is a tendency that has been sustained over the years (Consell Superior d’Avaluació del Sistema Educatiu, 2019). The data thus suggest that if there is one school subject that is especially telling of social and educational inequalities in our context, it is English. Erling et al. (2020) report similar findings for Austria, suggesting that this is not an isolated phenomenon, but rather one affecting other educational systems across Europe.

The contributors to this volume set out from a first premise that taking action to improve the competences in English of socioeconomically disadvantaged youth is a meaningful contribution towards more equitable educational outcomes and more inclusive future opportunities for them. The contributors also share the conviction that young people learn not only in schools, but also in the myriad of interactions across space and time that they encounter beyond formal education (see Moore, Vallejo, et al., this volume). Amalgamating these positions, the volume reports on the main findings of the research project ‘Inclusive epistemologies and practices of out-of-school English learning (IEP!)’, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, which ran from January 2019 until June 2021. The aims of the project were:

1) To collaboratively research teenagers’ existing practices of using and learning English out of school time;

2) To implement new, inclusive, nonformal English language educational initiatives;

3) To evaluate the impact of the nonformal English language educational initiatives implemented;

4) To support the sustainability and transferability of the initiatives.

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The project responded to the transversal objective of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy to generate knowledge that contributes to greater social welfare. It also responded to the Horizon 2020 challenge of building an inclusive Europe. By placing intersectoral cooperation – between university, schools and other educational agents – as an epistemological pillar (see Section 3 of this chapter), the project also addressed the Horizon 2020 aim of promoting effective cooperation between science and society in order to embed social awareness and responsibility into the pursuit of scientific excellence. It further responded to the Horizon 2020 vision of boosting employment, and more specifically to the European Commission’s Europe 2020 recommendations that member states take actions that improve young people’s competences in foreign languages as a means of boosting their domestic and international employability.

This introductory chapter continues in Section 2 by presenting the research context in more depth, drawing on some of the ethnographic data – i.e. fieldnotes and a focus group – gathered from different IEP! project sites in doing so. Following that, in Section 3, the overarching methodological approach followed in the research is introduced, although individual contributors to the volume present their specific approaches in the different empirical chapters. Finally, in Section 4, the overall organisation of the volume is presented.

2. The research context

Our research was conducted in a town in the metropolitan area surrounding Barcelona, in Catalonia. The town is home to approximately 13,500 people and has an area spanning less than one square kilometre. A main feature of the town is thus its high density, with families living in rows of similarly designed apartment blocks, some as low as five stories in height, but most of which are approximately 10 to 15 floors high. All these residential tower blocks were originally constructed as public housing in the 1970s – towards the end of the Franco dictatorship – to provide accommodation for workers who mainly migrated from other parts of Spain to take up employment in the state-owned electricity or railway companies. The town plan was based on the map of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, and the street names are different Spanish places and landmarks. The town is bordered by two major highways from which it is separated by sound barriers installed in recent years. The following extract from fieldnotes written by Víctor Corona, one of the researchers in the IEP! project, reflect his first impressions of the municipality:

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Extract 1

El instituto está situado muy cerca del centro de la ciudad. Está rodeado por bloques de apartamentos muy altos. Se pueden contar muchas ventanas, todas ellas muy pequeñas. […] Salta a la vista su carácter industrial, así como su condición de ciudad dormitorio. No hay muchas zonas verdes ni parques. Tampoco es que sea demasiado grande.

The high school is located near the centre of the city. It is surrounded by very high blocks of apartments. You can count lots of windows, all of them are very small. […] Its industrial character stands out, as does its condition as a dormitory town. There are not many green spaces nor parks. It’s also not very large.

Details

Pages
172
Year
2021
ISBN (PDF)
9783631862261
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631862278
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783631830574
DOI
10.3726/b18699
Open Access
CC-BY
Language
English
Publication date
2021 (December)
Keywords
Foreign language youth Collaboration Creativity Action Activism Nonformal education Informal education
Published
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 172 pp., 20 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Emilee Moore (Volume editor) Claudia Vallejo (Volume editor)

Emilee Moore is an Associate Professor in the Department of Language and Literature Education and Social Science Education at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a member of the Research Centre for Teaching and Plurilingual Interaction (GREIP). Her research is framed within the study of communicative practices in multilingual and multicultural educational contexts from a perspective that integrates linguistic anthropology, interactional sociolinguistics and sociocultural learning theories. Claudia Vallejo is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Language and Literature Education and Social Science Education at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a member of the Research Centre for Teaching and Plurilingual Interaction (GREIP). Her research focuses on the role of cultural and linguistic diversity in the academic trajectories of students from cultural and linguistic minorities, especially those considered at risk of school failure.

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Title: Learning English Out of School: An Inclusive Approach to Research and Action
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174 pages