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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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Suresh Canagarajah, Madhav Kaf le and Yumi Matsumoto - 4 World Englishes in Local Classrooms 77

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Suresh Canagarajah, Madhav Kaf le and Yumi Matsumoto 4 World Englishes in Local Classrooms Introduction In the context of globalization and late-modernity, scholars have started asking how education can prepare students for transnational commu- nication. English is touted as the global language par excellence, and claimed to guarantee communicative success in today’s social and eco- nomic relationships. There is a stampede to acquire a good knowledge of English, and many countries are giving English teaching priority in their educational policies. However, it is often ignored that the global status of English comes with a price. English has also been appropriated by local communities for their own interests and purposes, and it has now become a heterogeneous language. ‘Native-speaker’ varieties, such as standard British or American English, have lost their status as the universal norm for proficiency. Multilingual people are negotiating their own varieties of English in their own terms to conduct business. Some linguists contend that English has diversified to such an extent that it is not one language, but ‘a family of languages’ (Crystal, 2004: 40). We use the term ‘World Englishes’ (WE, hereafter) broadly to capture this plurality of English language. As people are required to shuttle between communities and languages, proficiency in one’s own variety of English is insuf ficient. One has to develop the competence to engage with diverse varieties of English worldwide. Such a perspective calls for a paradigm shift on thinking about the nature of English and ways of teaching it. In this article,...

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