International Conference on Bilingualism in Education

A talk on OER: insights into a multilingual landscape was given by Marit Bijlsma (Fryske Akademy), at the international conference Bilingualism in Education, which took place at Bangor University, North Wales, on 10-12th June 2016.

The event attracted around 150 international researchers and practitioners within bilingual and multilingual education.

The main goals of this conference were:

  • To increase the understanding of bilingualism world-wide, as regards both the individual and the community;
  • To build research capacity on bilingualism by developing a vibrant ‘laboratory’ for the study of bilingualism in action which aims to serve as a platform for interactions between bilingualism experts and junior researchers;
  • To develop strong bidirectional links with practitioners and policy makers concerned with bilingualism, so as to ground research and theory in the needs of those users and ensure dissemination of research findings;
  • To develop new collaborations.

The event covered a broad spectrum of themes of interest for the LangOER project to relate to and to exchange knowledge on and, in particular, the topic of ‘Understanding students’ attitudes towards post-compulsory study in minoritized languages’.

”It is widely acknowledged that the establishment of school-based educational provision in minoritized languages has been a key factor in language revitalisation in a range of primarily European contexts, where institutional recognition and support have been secured by the relevant minority. In the Welsh context, and elsewhere, the production of new speakers has arisen primarily as a consequence of the growth in the number of school-aged pupils studying through the medium of Welsh”

Andrew James Davies, Prifysgol Aberystwyth

The presentation focused on the following key aspects.

  • Language use and attitudes in a minority language community: The case of Wales. Language use and language attitudes have been longstanding and contentious issues within the field of minority language policy. In order for individuals to succeed in becoming bilingual, they have to receive input through both languages, Often, a lack of infrastructure bears the burden of successful minority language transmission. (Dr Mirain Rhys, WISERD).
  • Do Immigrant Minority Students Succeed in CLIL? Over the last few decades, processes of globalization and immigration have turned educational programmes and policies developed to cater to majority language or regional minority language groups into complex language planning issues. The growing influx of immigrant minority (IM) language speakers in both minority and majority multilingual education has laid bare the limitations of (some of) these programmes to provide relevant and appropriate education for all children in the 21st century. (Thomas Somers, Universidad Auntónoma de Madrid)
  • Trilingual Education in Friesland. Currently, Frisian is mainly taught through ‘weak models’ with ‘limited enrichment’. However, more than 100 primary schools (out of 450) apply a bilingual model, and another 75 schools apply the concept of ‘Trilingual Education’ with both Frisian and Eng-lish as a medium of instruction. The number of trilingual schools has increased, and schools are working step-by-step towards a fully developed, tailor made application of the CLIL approach, using school television programs from ‘Omrop Fryslân’ and digital teaching tools. (Alex Riemersma, NHL & Stenden universities of applied sciences).
  • Teaching mathematics in a Basque-medium pre-primary classroom: interaction resources and problem solving techniques. Early Childhood Education in the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain, in a multilingual education context in which 50% of students complete the curriculum in their L2, Basque. The presentation focused on the explanatory and problem solving expressions used by the teacher to the pupils that serve the dual purpose of teaching both the linguistic and the mathematical content. (Julia Barnes, Arantza Ozaeta, Matilde Sainz, Mondragon Unibertsitatea – HUHEZI).
  • Minority Language Families in Diaspora: Catalans in New York City. Educating multilingual children is an adventure ideally shared by teachers and parents. In order to encourage families to embark on, and persist in, the multilingual challenge, teachers benefit from a deep understanding of why parents decide to transmit which of their languages or not, and how they manage. Mixed and migrant families offer a particularly interesting case, since typically parents are forced to make conscious choices regarding their language repertoire. They can also illuminate the dynamics concerning societal multilingualism, where choices might be more environmentally mediated. (Eva J. Daussa, University of Groningen).

Author: Marit Bijlsma (Fryske Akademy)

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