The last post

I meant to write this post weeks ago, but, alas, I was channelling all my EDSL 624 energy into grading the amazing final projects (37 of them!). The blog will be quiet now, at least until the next time I teach the course, and I wanted to close off the 2016 Fall term with a few final comments.

As I explained in my first post, this was the first time I had created a course blog and I was hoping that we might find an audience. Over the 13 weeks of our course, we published 113 blog posts and posted almost 400 comments. There were over 4000 hits from 37 countries (shown on the map below). I think it’s fair to say that we did indeed find an audience. Bravo!

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-20-31-37

I embarked on this blogging journey with pedagogical intentionality to provide a space for scholarly work that would extend beyond the traditional boundaries of the classroom. The blog was one way of thinning our classroom walls and it opened a space for what I saw as deeply reflective, critical, engaged, and meaningful learning experiences. As I was planning the course, I also wanted to extend the opportunity for publicly engaged and engaging scholarship to other assignments. And so, for their final projects, I gave students the choice to write a traditional academic paper (about half chose this option), create a website, do a poster presentation on the last day of class, or propose something else (one student created her own blog).

One of the most frustrating moments for me as a teacher comes at the end of a course when students submit their term end papers to me and I am the only one who gets to see their work, unless a student publishes their work. Writing for an audience of one is an odd practice, really. But this year, for the first time in my teaching career, I am thrilled that I can share some of the students’ final projects. They were created for me as the evaluator, but for audiences well beyond me. I think you’ll be just as impressed as I was with the depth of scholarly rigour and creativity demonstrated in these 6 websites:

http://ethanlei1987.wixsite.com/languagein2116

http://kunyaokuang.wixsite.com/chinesedialectfilms

http://monteachall.my-free.website/

http://sihongchen.wixsite.com/sociolinguistics

http://iecatmcgill.weebly.com/

http://internationalchinesestudentsflca.weebly.com/

and this blog

https://ramblingsofalinguaphile.wordpress.com/

 

I wish I could share the rest.

Okay, time to close this off. Thank you to our readers who found us, read our posts, commented, or quietly read all the posts with great interest (Mom, this last category is for you!). And, thank you to the wonderful students for all your hard work, honesty, openness, and boldness. This has been a truly inspiring term for me.

 

 

Challenging the dominant narrative in ELT: A call for counterstories

Alison Crump

In last week’s class, we were talking about race, identity, and language education. We explored how identity is something that can be given to us (e.g., through Census categories, which define national identity possibilities and thus define access to things like education and resources) and something that we can perform and negotiate. We talked about how where you are can shape the possibilities for who you can be. We talked about stories that make our hearts feel heavy – people who are denied jobs on the basis of their accent or skin colour. By talking about the racism that is embedded in English language teaching (ELT) hiring practices and perpetuated through the white native speaker myth we were acknowledging the power of what critical race scholar Richard Delgado (1989) called “stock stories” or dominant narratives. These are the stories that tell us that “white” people who speak English are better suited for English language teaching. Yet, talking about race and the racialization of ELT can be discouraging for individuals who do not benefit from the (not always deserving) privileges that come with being able to identify with the invisible yet audible majority. The ideologies of nativeness and whiteness in our field of language education have real material and practical consequences for real individuals. How can we ensure that we are not repeating or perpetuating systems of inequality and racism in our teaching? How can we empower and validate language teachers and learners and challenge problematic discriminatory and racist practices in our field? How can we privilege all the stories of language teachers and not just those that reinforce the dominant narrative?

Continue reading “Challenging the dominant narrative in ELT: A call for counterstories”

Sociolinguistics vs. normal people

(Alison)

We’re off to a great start this term. As I wrote in my opening post, I will be an occasional contributor to this blog. While I’d like the blog to be primarily a space for students to share their ideas, I do read all the posts and reading gets me thinking. And thinking gets me writing.

Continue reading “Sociolinguistics vs. normal people”

Here we go!

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.

IMG_0917One 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. 

Continue reading “Here we go!”