Málfríður - 15.03.2005, Blaðsíða 28

Málfríður - 15.03.2005, Blaðsíða 28
28 MÁLFRÍÐUR of parents and the Immigrants’ Center, a forerunner of the Intercultural Center in Reykjavík. (Miðstöð nýbúa og Alþjóðahúsið) This parent initiative has developed into a very active bilingual education pro- gram at the center. Another example of a neglected language is sign language, which until recently was not fully recog- nized as a mother tongue. Fortunately there is a grow- ing awareness of the need for the hearing population to learn sign languages and thus make social situa- tions more inclusive to the hearing impaired. Signers also need more opportunities to learn the sign lan- guages of other countries in order to take advan- tage of opportunities for mobility, interchange and cultural enrichment. Plurilingualism as a resource There is a growing awareness of plurilingualism as a resource all across Europe. Teachers who work in multicultural areas have started to develop ways of drawing students’ knowledge of different languages into their teaching. This has the dual benefit of improving learning, and giving respect to students’ home languages. It also emphasizes that being bilingual or plurilingual is a natural and common phenomenon. Some of the things that language teachers and schools are doing are language awareness activi- ties. For example, children can do surveys on the number of languages spoken in their class, school, or neighborhood. Children can be encouraged to ‘bring and tell’ examples of different languages, such as newspapers, storybooks, and listening materials. Students can work with languages by learning songs and rhymes in different languages, and comparing groups of words or, for example, proverbs in differ- ent languages. At the more advanced levels, learners can do more sophisticated language comparisons and participate in lingual and cultural exchanges of many kinds. Differences in the ‘culture of learning’ Another important consideration for language teach- ers and school authorities is the difference between what we call ‘cultures of learning’. There is a grow- ing body of research which points to ways in which learners’ cultural or linguistic backgrounds affect the way they interact with classroom culture. For exam- ple, how much learners are expected to speak in class varies widely between cultures and this can have particular consequences in language classes. Several interesting studies have uncovered differ- ences of this kind. In a study by Cortazzi and Jin in 1996, perceptions of student behavior were compared between Chinese students and western teachers. One of the cultural differences that came to light was that western teachers view volunteering in class as show- ing strong interest and participation on the part of the students, while Chinese students viewed it as showing off and preventing teacher talk. This shows how perceptions about what is considered valued classroom behavior can differ greatly between cul- tures and lead to confusion and disappointment in the classroom. It is increasingly necessary for teachers to be aware of cultural differences and to adopt class- room approaches that take these differences into account. In some school situations, teachers barely know the names of many of the languages spoken by their pupils, let alone understand the cognitive and cultural differences that may accompany them. Teachers and school personnel need to have access to research into languages and their associated cultures. They should also have basic knowledge of the most commonly represented languages in their schools in order to send out a positive message about the value attached to linguistic diversity. A new paradigm In the multilingual, multicultural, and mobile reality of Europe today, we need to view plurilin- gual competence as a vital skill, and achievable by everyone. If citizens are to play a full role in today’s Europe, take advantage of the opportunities open to them and live up to their potential, they will need competence in a range of languages, as well as posi- tive attitudes towards speakers of languages from outside their immediate communities. A new paradigm for language education in the 21st century summarizes the main ideas and issues currently being debated within Europe. In this table a comparison is made between the old model of language education and a new one which takes into account new needs and perceptions in the changing face of Europe today. What does this new paradigm for language educa- tion mean for us in Iceland? It means that language educators in Iceland need to redefine their role in response to the changing nature of the society which no longer fits to the idea of the monolingual nation state. Modern European societies, including Iceland, are complex environ- ments, increasingly characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity and exchanges between languages and cultures. It is becoming ever more important for



Beinir tenglar

Ef þú vilt tengja á þennan titil, vinsamlegast notaðu þessa tengla:

Tengja á þennan titil: Málfríður

Tengja á þetta tölublað:

Tengja á þessa síðu:

Tengja á þessa grein:

Vinsamlegast ekki tengja beint á myndir eða PDF skjöl á Tímarit.is þar sem slíkar slóðir geta breyst án fyrirvara. Notið slóðirnar hér fyrir ofan til að tengja á vefinn.