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The Sociolinguistics of Language Education in International Contexts

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Edith Esch and Martin Solly

In many parts of the world the language education scenario is increasingly dynamic, as demographic, economic and social changes powerfully influence socio-political agendas in the sphere of language education. These in turn impact on complex issues such as linguistic pluralism, multiculturalism, and marginalization. This is especially so in the sphere of second language education where local, national and regional concerns often dominate the objectives underpinning policy choice and prioritisation.
This volume brings together scholars and researchers from a wide range of different educational contexts and turns a sociolinguistic lens on some of the key areas of concern for researchers in language education: critical awareness of power and identity issues; competence in dealing with new sociolinguistic repertoires, modalities and literacies; ethical concerns for all who are involved. The ‘case study’ approach enables the reader to reflect on and critically engage with these issues in a rich variety of contextual situations, and the volume as a whole provides a useful overview of (second) language education in the world today.

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ANDROULA YIAKOUMETTI Bidialectism and Aboriginal Language Education: Sociolinguistic Considerations Pertinent to Australia’s Aboriginal Communities 169

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ANDROULA YIAKOUMETTI Bidialectism and Aboriginal Language Education: Sociolinguistic Considerations Pertinent to Australia’s Aboriginal Communities 1. Introduction Australia is a country associated with innovative, sustained and influ- ential work that has resulted in language-education initiatives for In- digenous (i.e. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) students. Since the 1970s, sociolinguistic studies on the language use and education of Indigenous people have been flourishing. The research of Malcolm (Malcolm 1979, 1994, 1995a, 1995b) and others (Kaldor/Malcolm 1982, Berry/Hudson 1997, Clayton 1999, Malcolm et al. 1999) intro- duced the framework of bidialectal education for Aboriginal English speakers and promoted English-as-a-second-dialect instruction for these speakers. This research pointed out the equality of the various linguistic varieties which co-occur on the continent and advocated the proposition that Indigenous students’ linguistic repertoires, cultural knowledge, communicative styles, learning styles, and worldviews ought to be respected and harnessed in the classroom. Many peda- gogical initiatives resulted from this research (and these are briefly discussed in section 2.4). Despite the many sociolinguistically-informed pedagogical ini- tiatives, researchers report that Indigenous students’ performance is significantly poorer than that of non-Indigenous students (Luke/Land et al. 2002, Oliver et al. 2011) and researchers continue to strive to discover the factors which underlie Indigenous students’ poorer per- formance. It is accepted that various factors such as linguistic and cultural differences, learning styles, assessment instruments and con- 170 Androula Yiakoumetti tent, and irregular attendance (as well as interactions amongst these factors) all affect students’ performance (McTaggart 2010). This chapter focuses on non-Indigenous teachers who work in...

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