It’s the start of September, start of a new term, and I’m really excited about this one.
I’m Alison Crump, the instructor for the graduate course, Educational Sociolinguistics, in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. Welcome to our course blog.
One of the assignments I created for my (very large!) group of graduate students is something I call “sociolinguistic noticing.” This asks students to pay attention to, reflect on, and write about how sociolinguistic issues (e.g., identity, social status, place, race, gender, language variation, language ideologies, multilingualism, language policy, etc.) play out in every day life, with a particular focus on formal and non-formal educational contexts. Over the course of the term, each student will write to this blog several times, as well as respond to their peers’ posts. I will also make occasional appearances. My hope is that we might find an audience beyond our group as well. Please feel free to join in the conversations.
The last time I taught this course, I found that engaging in sociolinguistic noticing as a group was a way for us to extend the concepts and readings we discussed in class. In this after-class online discussion, we explored ideas and had some good critical and healthy debates. The last time I taught this course, this community discussion took place within the closed walls of our online course platform.
This year, I decided to take this part of the course beyond the classroom walls and face outwards, to the public. Sociolinguists are, at the core, interested in understanding how language is used (or not used) in social practices and settings. We are not often interested in remaining within closed walls. Language teachers who are sociolinguists are interested in understanding the implications of sociolinguistics to theories and practices of language learning in formal and non-formal educational contexts. And so, why keep our sociolinguistic noticing to ourselves? Why not open up this forum and turn it to the public? Why not engage with a broader audience and, in so doing, expand our own thinking and understanding?
As language teachers, we engage with the public all the time and we understand that much learning takes place outside of the classroom walls. And so, by turning this part of the course outward to the public, we are thinning our classroom walls.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what shape this space takes over the next few months. Here we go!