I spent last week in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico giving presentations and workshops to students and professors at the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco. I talked about a range of topics but most were connected to the sociopolitics of English language teaching and global changes. It was a great week. I’m posting the PowerPoint presentations here so the workshop participants can have access to the materials.
Tomorrow is the first day of classes for Fall 2014. It’s also my first semester back to a regular load after sabbatical. I did teach an intensive course in July 2014 but it was in Saskatoon and somehow didn’t quite feel like being back to school. I’m teaching two sections of an undergraduate course on the topic of linguistic diversity in schools.
A few bits of news in my world. I’m now the vice president of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics/ L’Association canadienne de linguistique appliquée (CAAL/ACLA). ACLA and the American Association for Applied Linguistics are holding a joint 2015 conference in Toronto from March 21-24. I’ve been involved this summer with conference planning. I’m learning a lot already and am enjoying the experience.
And I’m off to Calgary on Thursday for the Language Policy and Planning conference at the U of C. I’ll be giving a paper with one of my PhD students, Cindy Nelson.
In March, I was in Portland for AAAL 2014 to give a paper. I saw a number of talks that I really enjoyed. In particular, I saw a paper from Maris Thompson on citizenship and German Americans that I really loved. I saw a really great paper from Brianne Nelson and Greta Vollmer that used discourse analysis to examine 911 calls from Spanish-speakers. That made me think of incidents like this that pop up in the newspaper every so often. How does accent/language affect response time? I also really enjoyed a presentation by Sebastian Muth on the commodification of Russian in Lithuania. Aneta Pavlenko and Monica Heller were both present at that session and the discussion was very interesting.
After I returned to Regina, I left again to spend a few days at the University of Lethbridge. I met with members of the Language Development, Identity, Assessment Group and gave a lecture on the topic of pathologizing language difference in settler schools. I was fortunate enough to be presenting along with Sharla Peltier who talked about her work in “facilitating language and literacy learning for students with Aboriginal English dialects.” I really enjoyed this experience. I’m posting a few pictures from the lecture and of the group.
My sabbatical has been going well. I’ve been working on a few things and slowly making progress on my writing. I’ll start back to teaching with a summer graduate institute where I’ll be teaching language acquisition theory in French to our Maîtrise cohort based in Saskatoon. I have a few more projects planned between now and summer.
I’m in Malawi for two weeks to do some guest lecturing on curriculum development. The students I’m working with are in the University of Malawi Polytechnic’s Master of Technical and Vocational Education program. I told my students that I would post the Powerpoint presentations of my lectures on my blog (click on the hyperlinked titles above). I’ll add new files each day after class.
Today is the first day of my one-year sabbatical. My plans are to stay in Regina; continue data collection, and to write, write, write.
Last week, in my critical issues and second language education graduate course, we read and talked about Christianity, missionary work and English language teaching. Two articles informed our conversation:
Pennycook, A., & Makoni, S.. (2005). The modern mission: The language effects of Christianity. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 4(2), 137-155.
Varghese, M. M. &, Johnston, B. (2007), Evangelical Christians and English Language Teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 41: 5–31. doi: 10.1002/j.1545-7249.2007.tb00038.x
My students generally disapproved of using English language teaching to proselytize. The following student’s comments sum up the overall sense of our discussion: “I understand that teaching is in itself value-laden. We bring to our classrooms our belief systems. As such, there can never be a complete division of faith and teaching. However, the difference I see is in that Evangelical ELT teachers are using their profession as a mission.” English language teaching should not be used as a way to convert students to Christianity.
After we came back from our coffee break, a student showed me this photo she had taken of a poster outside our classroom door. The poster advertises two free 45-minute English classes offered in a classroom in the University library. While the poster promises English language improvement, I’m left feeling that a more accurate title for this poster might be something along the lines of Come and talk in English about Christianity.
Today is International Mother Language Day. The website of the United Nations explains that: “International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.”
The fall semester is almost over and I’m starting my prep work for Winter 2013. I’ll be teaching 3 classes – EC&I 871 AE (Critical Issues in Second Language Education); ELNG 200 (Linguistic Diversity and English Language Arts) and DLNG 425 (Didactique de la langue). The DLNG course is a new one for me and it’s in French (part of our French immersion education program) so that will mean extra work in terms of tracking down my readings (it really makes you understand how English dominates academic publishing).