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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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INMACULADA FORTANET-GÓMEZ The Implications of Language Choice in Education 245

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INMACULADA FORTANET-GÓMEZ The Implications of Language Choice in Education 1. Introduction The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed in 1948, in its Article 2 establishes that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”,1 giving mother tongue the status of a basic human right. In 1953 UNESCO issued a resolution declaring that children should begin their education through the medium of their mother tongue, because of the many problems children had in becoming literate in a foreign language they did not know in new countries which had become independent in the postcolonial period (Garcia 2009). However, I believe this right should not be restricted to the mother tongue, but should lead to multi- lingual education giving a similar status to local, state and interna- tional languages. This chapter starts with a brief overview of language choice in multilingual education in the world, especially with regard to local and regional languages. Then, in the second part, it presents the opin- ions and expectations of students of Universitat Jaume I, a bilingual university with Spanish and Valencian (the local variety of Catalan) where a new multilingual language policy has been approved to in- clude English as the third language. In the last decades there has been an ‘ethnic revolution’ (Fishman 1977) of minority groups who claim the right to...

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