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Language learning, identity and bilingualism in education

Creating meaningful realities . . .

Angela Creese, University of Birmingham

Two educational contexts: looking at bilingualism in English schools

Mainstream: Primary and Secondary schools

Complementary schools

Romantic Bilingualism?

in which young people are turned into

reified speakers of community languages, [and] in the process their ethnicities are also reified. (Leung et al, 1997:553). Roxy Harris (2006:34) has described how young people in his research of mainly South Asian descent are often bashful and rueful in their acknowledgements of their own deficient expertise in their community practices Harris suggests we must take account of the childs agency and a sense of their multidimensionality as linguistic, cultural and social beings (Harris, 2006:33).

Bilingualism, L1, community language and EAL (Leung, 2006)

Concurrent L1 and L2 development (e.g. UKbased bilingual persons from linguistic minority community) Sequential L1 (e.g. Punjabi or Polish) L2 (English) bilingual development Type A: L1 (home language/s, in UK) L2 (English) e.g. bilingual persons using home/community language in early years until primary school (bilingual-EAL), e.g. UK born person with Urdu or Cantonese as home language Type B: L1 (another language/s, elsewhere) L2 (English in UK) e.g. 14-year-old new arrival from Somalia (EAL-bilingual)

The term Bilingual Pupil is very imprecise and should be used with caution.

Who is the EAL learner?

The term 1.5 generation or 1.5G refers to people who immigrate to a new country before their early teens. They earn the label the "1.5 generation" because they bring with them characteristics from their home country but continue their assimilation and socialization in the new country. Their identity is thus a combination of new and old culture and tradition. (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) on

1.5 generation

Quotation: We who sat huddled in that E.S.L. class grew up to represent the so-called 1.5 generation. Many of us came to America in our teens, already rooted in Korean ways and language. We often clashed with the first generation, whose minimal command of English traps them in a time-warped immigrant ghetto, but we identified even less with the second generation, who, with their AsianAmerican angst and anchorman English, struck us as even more foreign than the rest of America. ( ns/15_generation_1/)

Forever foreign?

ESL identity which works to reify, idealize, stereotype and imagine students pasts over their present circumstances, denying students the possibilities of more complex, hybrid, and shifting affiliations and identities in favour of an enduring, exoticized nostalgia. (Talmy, 2004:150).

Complementary school (Interview at MH with 4 teenage girls) I Um, do you use Gujarati in your mainstream schools? S No. S Yeah. S Sometimes. I Right S Umm, no. S Yeah. S No, cos I go to a Catholic school. I And they dont use Gujarati? S No, because theyre mostly, um, Christian so they dont. I Yeah. Do you S But, I got a few friends who are Hindu so we speak Gujarati sometimes. I Oh right. Are you allowed S That is so lame. I Are you allowed to speak Gujarati in the class? S Yeah. S Yeah. I Oh right, right. How many of you dont use Gujarati at all, S In school? I in school. Your main school. S Yeah, I dont. I You dont.


No. You dont? Why dont you? Its because Ive got white friends and Sikh friends so, they dont understand talking about. Oh right, [indistinguishable] Its lame. And it is disrespect. And its lame. Talk Gujarati when English people are around. Ah right. They think were [indistinguishable Freshies?] and that so. <LAUGHTER> Youre what? Freshies? Yes, from India. <All talking at once> Not born here. <All talking at once> That is true though. Yeah they think that. Theyre talking about them or something. Thats a true fact. That does happen.

what Im

FOBs and Freshies: stigmatizing new arrivals a new form of linguicism

Fresh off the boat is a noxious label signifying a recently-arrived, monumentally uncool, non-English speaking rube of mythical, and for some, hilarious proportions (Talmy, 2004). The notion of freshie is a term of derision having a similar but more pejorative meaning to country bumpkin. (Creese et al 2005)


Linguicism is akin to the other negative isms: racism, classism, sexism ageism. Linguicism can be defined as ideologies and structures which are used to legitimate, effectuate and reproduce an unequal division of power and resources (both material and non-material) between groups which are defined on the basis of language (on the basis of their mother tongues).(Skunabb-Kangas 1988: 13)

Identities can be

assumed negotiable

(Pavlenko and Blackledge 2003)

Roles for EAL practitioners: from the data

A language aware pedagogy An understanding of classrooms as cultural and linguistic ecologies

Things to ponder: how the two teachers similar and different in the way they interact?

Number of questions Type of questions Pedagogy used Ownership of the teaching task


Number of questions (8, 19) Type of questions (closed and open, display and referential) Pedagogy of transmission versus pedagogy of facilitation (telling the curriculum, negotiating the curriculum?) Ownership of the task (I want you to vs, what you need to do is)

Questions: The ST asks eight questions

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

You done that? Yes? It is hot in summer and cold in winter? In the rainforest, it is? Is it cold? It is hot all the time, isnt it? The temperatures are they hot or are they cold? OK?

The EALT asks nineteen questions.


2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

7. 8. 9. 10.

The rainforests do or dont have seasons as we know them? What is a season, season? Temperatures are cool or hot all year round? Of course we are talking of Brazil now, yes? You remember where Brazil is? How much rain is there every year in England, in London? 8, 80, this is? How much rain is there in Brazil? Do you know? How do you find out how much there is?

The EALTs questions.

11. 12. 13. 14.

16. 17. 18. 19.

And what must you do to the rainfall? What do you think you have to do to see how much there is for the whole year? And what month is that? So if you want to find out how much rain there is every month, what do you have to do? What is the word that we say? If you were to take 340, 360, what would you be doing? What is that number, I mean symbol? It is not times, it is? OK?

Commands/imperatives (directive function (ST)

Join the dots to give a line graph. Join. Join with crosses Look at this and think. Write it on the paper

Transmission of subject Knowledge (referential function)

This is a bar A rectangle is what we call a bar These are what we call a bar graph Seasons are winter and summer Seasons equals winter, spring, summer, autumn Weather, yes it goes up and down. So its a season. Winter, summer, spring. We have our winter holidays, summer holidays. In England. In Turkey, it is hot in summer and cold in winter. 26 degrees centigrade is hot, isnt it? We dont need sweaters and it is hot in January, February, March, April, May, June, every month. Every month it is high. So we can say there is not seasons. The rainforests dont, do not, do not have seasons.

Use of Modals

What you must do now You need the book Now, can you tell me Now, what you have to do is. And what must you do to the rainfall? So you must add those numbers. What do you think you have to do to see how much there is for the whole year

Classrooms as micro-ecologies

The classroom is a complex and active ecosystem comprising multiple participants (teachers and pupils), their beliefs, teaching/learning styles and histories, institutional rules and memories, local community and national policy influences. Skilful EAL teaching has to navigate around and through these constantly shifting influences to provide the optimal teaching, learning and support opportunities for EAL pupils.

Bilingual EAL teacher, secondary school

Well, I am glad you asked me this question because I have been teaching now for nearly 6 years, but it is the first time in my life that I am enjoying it so much. Because, I don't know whether it is right, but this is how I can explain. I feel I am needed. And I can see the improvement with my students as well. . . . I have a pastoral class, so it is the whole issue. I know even their life stories, I know so much about my students. I understand them, and of course English comes into it. (A3)

Bilingual primary school classroom teacher

Because as soon as I start speaking it [Urdu) the children will start using their own languages and for them to understand that it is alright to speak another in the classroom to express yourself, its all about setting a role model. (Bilingual primary school teacher)

Shamila and Saima (Sylheti/Bengali/ English)

Angela Do you feel like in school both of your languages get stronger or is it really only one language that is getting stronger? Shamila I think both languages are getting stronger because IIIspeak English and sometime home language in school for about six hours and then I speak all day in Bengali with my Mum and Dad and sometimes English with my big brother and its like half and half Angela So both kind of equal Saima Yeah Angela Or is one more Saima I think both of them are like equal they both go in together and they mix up and you just get this stir of like a pot yeah where youve got English and Bengali together