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Harnessing Linguistic Variation to Improve Education

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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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Stephen May - 2 Educational Approaches to Minorities: Context, Contest and Opportunities 11

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Stephen May 2 Educational Approaches to Minorities: Context, Contest and Opportunities Introduction Just over a decade ago, the prospects of acknowledging ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity more directly and positively within education seemed within grasp. At that time, multicultural and bilingual educational approaches were increasingly commonplace in modern liberal democracies (May, 1999, 2002; Banks and Banks, 2004). Similarly, multiculturalism appeared to be gaining widespread acceptance as a public policy response to the burgeoning diversity of state populations in an era of globalization and increasing transmigration (Kymlicka, 1998, 2001, 2007). Both develop- ments built upon a history of nearly fifty years of advocacy of multicultural and bilingual education, and wider state policies of inclusion for minority groups, which had its genesis in the US Civil Rights movement but had extended to other western countries, including Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Even critics of multiculturalism conceded its impact on public policy, particularly within education – a wearied resignation most notably captured in Nathan Glazer’s (1998) phrase, ‘we are all multicul- turalists now’. Multiculturalism, at least in Glazer’s view, had finally ‘won’ because the issue of greater public representation for minority groups was increasingly commonplace in discussions of democracy and representation in the civic realm – including, centrally, within schools (see, for example, Goldberg, 1994; Taylor, 1994; Kymlicka, 1995). How times have changed. Over the last decade, and particularly post 9/11, we have seen a rapid and significant retrenchment of multicultural- ism as public policy, particularly within education. In the United States, a 12...

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