18 February, 2010 09:34

Summary and notes taken on the occasion of the conference on multilinguism, professionalism and higher education, 4-6 February 2010 in Luxembourg

Today, 10 days after the event, what are the items that remain and that have changed me? For one, it is the use of the expression mother tongue. Dominant language seems now more appropriate. We need to reconsider the value of having native speakers as teachers. When we use only the target language in a classroom, we favour monolinguism. Michael Kelly stressed this point and argued how helpful it is when students of a second language make use of their existing resources when learning a new language. The session about the eurocom program was making this point very clear, stating that no foreign language is totally unknown territory http://www.eurocomresearch.net/kurs/englisch.htm. The closing remarks of our rector, Mr Tarrach were interesting. As I understood, he said that English is the dominant language in the scientific domain, but that we need to nurture and deal with multilinguism in an effective way. While many of the speaker favoured multilinguism and showed critically how English is often used, as a way of making universities more attractive to foreign students, I was pleased to hear in one session, how English as a second language can become entirely detached from the places where it is a first language and creates a new way for people from different backgrounds to communicate with each other, bringing in their specific linguistic backgrounds.

There are things I will take away from the conference, integrate and adopt as something gained through reasoning, things I agree with. The next time around I will spend more time asking mature researchers about their job and whether the passion and the quest remained after years of work. Some people inspired me and I would like to meet them again and find out more what they think on topics close to research interest.

Many thanks for the beautiful ending of the conference, when we were offered sandwiches and one of the organisers (G.Z.) asked us to collect them and take them to the foyer Ulysse. It showed in a very small way an act of humanity and social behaviour I can look up to. I managed to take a uni.lu bag full of ham, cheese, sandwiches to the foyer which was received with thanks.

What next? What is the future for multilinguism? No doubt will languages and cultures meet more and more often, be it in physical or digital spaces. Minority languages will further seek to establish their right to exist and at the same time people everywhere will seek ways to communicate with each other. Language as a carrier of information, of knowledge, of culture and belief needs to be redefined and room for expression needs to be available.

Bahullh enjoins the adoption of a universal language and script. His Writings envisage two stages in this process. The first stage is to consist of the selection of an existing language or an invented one which would then be taught in all the schools of the world as an auxiliary to the mother tongues. The governments of the world through their parliaments are called upon to effect this momentous enactment. The second stage, in the distant future, would be the eventual adoption of one single language and common script for all on earth. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 250)

I hope you enjoy some of the pictures and impressions: http://picasaweb.google.com/nauzana

This next part includes my notes during the conference.

1st speaker: Michael Kelly: He sees Mehrsprachigkeit as a considerable enrichment. Il parle des competences morales (values), cognitives et pratiques. Motto Is : unity in diversity. Building bridges between and across countries. While analysing, we became aware of how much monolinguism is routed in teaching.

Slide 9. Culture de la formation des enseignants

Langue dinstruction pdagogique, langue de gestion scolaire, insertion dans les institutions nationales, langue davancement professionnelle.

Slide 10. Culture de lenseignement scolaire

Cloisonnement des langues, usage de la langue-cible (tant une tradition monolingue, dbat des langues parallles), modle du locuteur natif (critique), connaissances monoculturelles.

Slide 11. Identits professionnelles

Concurrence de langues luniversit, dans les coles, collges et lyces ; associations monolingues (Moien asbl) ; collaborations difficiles.

Slide 12. Strategies pour favoriser lenseignement multilingue

Slide 13. Formations multiculturelles

Formation des enseignants de 2 langues (ou plus) ; mobilit accrue en formation initiale et continue ; changes dides entre tudiants de langues diffrentes ; (change problems into opportunities) ; rflexion sur les valeurs de la diversit et du dialogue des cultures ; apprentissage linguistique tout au long de la vie. (life-long learning)

Slide 14. Pdagogie interculturelle

Approches comparatives lapprentissage des langues ; rflexion sur le rapport de lapprenant la langue ; respect de la diversit des langues en prsence ; vers ltude contrastive des cultures. value langues

The need for English as a lingua franca.

Slide 15. Professionalit multiculturelle

Identit denseignant de langues (plutt que prof. dune langue) ; collaboration entre les associations denseignants dans le domaine des langues ; coopration entre les instituts et service culturels gouvernementaux.

Slide 16. Vers lenseignement de langues europens

Formes de reconnaissance ; tude et recherches (whats happening on the ground ?) ; projets de dveloppement, (pilote good ideas) rseaux europens.

Plenary Lecture 3 : Robert Phillipson: Additive university multilinguism in English-dominant empire The language policy challenges

Robert Phillipson mentions the notion of academic freedom. This subject captures my attention and I very much would like discuss this issue of freedom in academic studies. Is there a danger when mental processes are dominated by a language? He fears that English, that has become so dominant, takes over and as a result includes also the mental processes. (a handout of his talk is available)

Plenary Lecture 4: Genevieve Zarate: Plurilinguisme et pluriculturalisme un champ spcifique de la recherch.

Elle a commen sa confrence avec une perspective historique, avec des savants qui deviennent des chercheurs. Elle a donn un regard critique sur les critres de classement des universits ; elle parlait de deux fromes de connaissance : epistem /doxa, Platon et loquence / latine (Ciceron). Elle parlait de la notion destime entre chercheurs. What you say and how you say it. Time Is quality not money. La science nest pas universelle. Il est ncessaire de redfinir certains concepts. Avec langlais comme langue dominante, il existe le risque de la pense unique (la standardisation de la pense). Les ides se transforment en circulation dune langue une autre. Elle cite Pierre Bourdieu : le langage est pouvoir.

Symposium 3 : Intro by Gudrun : Landau-Lyon-Luxembourg, les universits travaillent ensemble depuis 2 ans. Les dfis : multiculturalit, multilinguisme. Aim : challenge categories, go beyond that.

Jacqueline Breugnot : breugnot. Slide: le plurilinguisme en interaction et au del de la langue. Dvelopper une comptence cooprer, avoir un mode communication, libr de jugements, sortir du jugement.

Wie geht man mit Plurikulturalitt um ? Quel est lenseignant que je veux devenir?

Ziele des Seminars: wenig Zeit Sprachkenntnisse optimieren, potential der emotionalen Intelligenz erkennen, mit Spannungen umgehen knnen.

Djouer la fixit, nos comportements ne sont pas toujours rationnel.

Methodologische Referenzen : Augusto BOAL, Forum-Theater, Eric BERN, Analyse der Transaktionen, Carl R.ROGERS, humanistische Mediation.

Ein Beispill: aus der privaten oder beruflichen Leben. Hauptsache: man fhlt sich in dem Prozess engagiert. Fr das Eine gelernt, fr das Andere verwendet. (on est dans le travail de soi.)

Geteilte Werte : que je fais le mnage ou non, notre relation va rester, je suis ta sur. Je crois en ce que je dis. Plus quon prenne des risques, plus quon puisse apprendre.

2nd presentation : nathalie blanc, peter griggs. How the question of intercultural encounters can be developed into a seminar. A german and English lesson

Plenary Lecture 2: Franois Grin: Languages in academia: an increasingly important issue

Asking the right questions. Generally under-identified set of issues; Frequent emphasis on pedagogical questions general oversight of the social, political and economic implications, thus hampering universities to make good choices.

Menu of the day: reframing the issue in policy analysis perspective; key instruments for evaluating options; pre-identification of the range of issues (towards a typology?)

3 usual approaches: economics typically ignores language questions; linguistic practices ignore often governance aspects; literature misses the broader political, social and economic dimensions.

Why are they not enough? They may tell us how to do certain things, but not what to do and for what reasons. (Should we be teaching through x or y at all?) Need for a policy analysis perspective, which is analytical.

In practice: existing policy documents suggest that universities (or their state-level authorities) routinely make major language-related decisions with only strikingly incomplete identification of the issues at hand ; difficulty to think out of the box

Key concepts 1 the counterfactual; nothing is good in the absolute, but only by comparison to existing things.

Key concepts 2 meta-criteria; efficiency (proper allocation of scarce resources) and fairness;

Key concepts 3 relevant resources; policy evaluation must cast the net wide and include not only material, financial, tangible resources but also non-material, symbolic, psychic resources; if only because the non-material, intangible consequences usually have very tangible implications.

Key concepts 4 internal v. external levels: educational inputs skills, output, skills input, outcomes, earnings, participation, happiness, etc.

Language in universities: towards a typology; 5 types-groups of activities and: 3 tiers-levels of action; general policy orientations, organizational, and

Implications for governance; very wide range of issues;

Role of English in university teaching and research; wide-spread increase in the use of English in teaching and research; choices made on the basis of general sometimes implicit assumptions: necessary to attract the best students, others do it so we must do it too; English is the language of science.

Assessing the assumptions Teaching Research; is research really produced in-through one (dominant) language only? (Lvy-Leblond, 1996)

Informal Institutional Public
Written Laboratory log books, correspondence Scholarly papers
oral Team meetings Colloquia, seminars Media presentations

How do linguistic practices affect creativity, problem-solving abilities, and innovation? Is knowledge creation and sharing language free or language bound?

Il y a des gens qui font a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Conclusion : many important decisions made without attempt to assess their consequences ; choices seem to be governed by hasty assumptions. A glimmer of hope? Private sector is more aware of the relevance of multilingualism, as an economic value.

Plenary 3: Friday morning. English doesnt open all doors. World English through one linguistic template. What is Global English? Default language of international communication; used internationally in business, media, higher education; legitimatory discourses, political, scholarly of English as neutral, a lingua franca; most widely learned foreign language (product); faith in a divine mission. (presentation will be available on the website).

The world chooses English; Gordon Brown; negative; Gandhi. World class universities, ranked in and for the Anglophone world. Language policy is left to market forces!

Workshop, Friday 14:30 The Calpiu Research Center www.calpiu.dk . A hegemonic discourse is one which has become so embedded in a culture that it appears silly to ask "Why?" about its assumptions. Transcriptions using CLAN Software: http: //Childes.psy.cmu.edu/clan/ locally-developed detailed transcription manual. Code-switching, language transfer. Ist Sprache nure in neutrales Werkzeug?

Notes taken during the last session with the 3 rectors from universities

The confrence came about as a reaction to whats happening in Europe and the political decisions. More thought on this would be useful.

What is dangerous for multilinguism? What is the added-value of multilinguism? A glossary of terms is necessary, when using different Languages, and defining terms as pedagogy, rector, etc.

A book of abstracts is available.

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