Dear Rex Murphy,
When you write that Canadians are offended at the term ‘settler’ and ‘genocide,’ you don’t speak for all of us. I’m a Canadian citizen, my ancestors came to Canada from Europe a few centuries ago, and I understand myself as a settler. It’s not disrespectful for indigenous peoples to remind us of Canada’s legacy of genocide. It’s not rude for indigenous peoples to label as ‘colonial’ the connections between the industries of resource extraction, the RCMP, and the corporate media you write for.
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).
I’m in Montreal at Concordia University for the 11th International Conference of the Association for Language Awareness. I’m giving a paper on Wednesday. This morning, I went to an interesting session on plurilingualism by Gail Prasad, a PhD candidate at OISE.