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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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Sandra Lee McKay - 5 English as an International Language, Multilingualism and Language Planning 97

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Sandra Lee McKay 5 English as an International Language, Multilingualism and Language Planning Introduction The growing literature on English as an international language (EIL) (Crystal, 1997, 2003; McKay, 2002, 2008; Sharifian, 2009) attests to the widespread recognition that today English is a unique language with the greatest number of speakers in the world (if both L1 and L2 speakers are included) and the most widely distributed geographically. With the spread of English has come claims that the English language is undermining lin- guistic and cultural diversity (e.g., Nettle and Romaine, 2000; Phillipson, 1992, 2003; Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000). In this chapter I argue that the present loss of linguistic diversity involves a myriad of factors including individual perceptions, wants and needs, language-in-education policies, and most importantly the local linguistic landscape and the discourses surrounding English. By way of illustrating how these various factors can af fect the spread of English and linguistic diversity, the chapter describes two English lan- guage education policies. The first case describes Japanese policies regard- ing English education in which a belief that English is necessary for Japan to be an international player has led the Ministry of Education and local administrators to require the learning of English as a foreign language. The second case deals with the language education policies of South Africa where the government policy is highly supportive of multilingualism and multiculturalism. Both case studies will be examined to highlight the ef fects that language-in-education policies and the local linguistic landscape can have on the...

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