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Harnessing Linguistic Variation to Improve Education

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Edited By Androula Yiakoumetti

This volume brings together research carried out in a variety of geographic and linguistic contexts including Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States and explores efforts to incorporate linguistic diversity into education and to ‘harness’ this diversity for learners’ benefit. It challenges the largely anachronistic ideology that promotes exclusive use of an educational monolingual standard variety and advocates the use in formal education of aboriginal/indigenous languages, minority languages, nonstandard varieties and contact languages.
The contributors examine both historical and current practices for including linguistic diversity in education by considering specific bidialectal, bilingual and multilingual educational initiatives. The different geographical and linguistic settings covered in the volume are linked together by a unifying theme: linguistic diversity exists all over the world, but it is very rarely utilized effectively for the benefit of students. When it is used, whether in isolated studies or through governmental initiatives, the research findings point systematically to the many educational advantages experienced by linguistically-diverse students. This book will be of interest to teachers and language practitioners, as well as to students and scholars of language and education.

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Androula Yiakoumetti - 1 Rethinking Linguistic Diversity in Education 1

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Androula Yiakoumetti 1 Rethinking Linguistic Diversity in Education This volume celebrates linguistic diversity. It brings together work carried out in diverse geographic and linguistic contexts including Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States and high- lights the ef forts undertaken in these contexts to incorporate linguistic diversity into education and to harness it for learners’ benefit. Research clearly demonstrates that incorporating linguistic diversity into education can lead to social, cultural, pedagogical, cognitive and lin- guistic advancement. In spite of this evidence, many educational contexts around the world are characterized by an unwillingness to commit to change and a stance that argues for exclusive use of a prescribed standard variety in the classroom. It is not unusual for such settings to indirectly discourage inclusion of varieties other than the prescribed standard, to ignore the exist- ence of these varieties, or even to ban them from the classroom. Naturally, limiting the resources that learners from diverse linguistic backgrounds are allowed to use in the classroom tends to mitigate their experience of a meaningful education. The volume challenges the largely anachronistic ideology that pro- motes exclusive use of an educational monolingual standard variety and advocates the use of aboriginal/indigenous languages, minority languages, nonstandard varieties (i.e. regional, ethnic, and social varieties) and contact languages (i.e. pidgins and creoles) in formal education. Permitting the use of such varieties is a critical step towards equal linguistic rights (Skutnabb- Kangas and Phillipson, 2008). Together, the chapters of the volume serve as a forum...

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