That “language is a systematic means of communication” is probably the most precise and unambiguous definition of “language” that our ears have heard. Language, however, is more than a means of communication and a cultural behaviour. To me, it is an active, living, animated, emotional, dynamic, and breathing entity, which characterizes us and is a “character” itself. What made me ponder over the latter (i.e. seeing language as a lively character) is the way I invest in maintaining the languages in my plurilingual repertoire. Continue reading
I am a teacher and one of the few things I’m secure in is my ability to teach, regardless, or maybe because of, my love of research and learning. I’ve been a teacher since I came to Quebec over 25 years ago. I taught ESL to small groups or individual adults. My classes were intimate by nature, as many of the students were shy about speaking a foreign language in front of strangers, of losing their carefully constructed identities as confident, intelligent adults. In order to get those confident, intelligent adults and later often apprehensive, international students and diffident, unemployed youth to speak out loud, I learned that I had to create a safe space where they felt comfortable making the inevitable mistakes of language learners and to continuously craft a secure place in which they could recover from banging their heads against the vagaries of the English language. Continue reading
Sunny Man Chu Lau is Associate Professor in the School of Education at Bishop’s University in Quebec, Canada. Her interest in and advocacy for critical approaches to second language (L2) learning can be traced back to her English language experience both as a learner and as an educator in Hong Kong. Born and raised in this former British colony, since very young, she came to know and experience the hegemonic power of ESL, “English as a superior language” (Pennycook, 1998), in everyday life and how it impacted learners’ relationship with the language as well as with their life chances. For more about Sunny see our Active Members page.
Affect is an impingement or extrusion of a momentary or sometimes more sustained state of relation as well as the passage (and the duration of passage) of forces or intensities. That is, affect is found in those intensities that pass from body to body (human, nonhuman, part-body, and otherwise), in those resonances that circulate about, between, and sometimes stick to bodies and worlds, and in the very passages or variations between these intensities and resonances themselves. (Seigworth & Gregg, 2010, p. 1).
Seigworth and Gregg (2010) describe how affect is fundamentally visceral and material, circulating between bodies and environment, shaping and shaped by different political, economic, and cultural forces. This material and social view of emotions prompts to ask how one is affected, by one’s experience with language, into action or non-action regarding language learning. Our emotional attachment, the “stickiness” (Ahmed, 2004) of certain language and cultural practices is a “product of history and society” (Busch, 2015). My language portrait attempts to show the bricolage of my experiences, past, present and projective, and how they get attached onto my body:
This past year, I interviewed young adult heritage language learners about their experience in learning their heritage language. They shared their failures and successes in attempting to learn their heritage language. Continue reading
Angelica was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and has both Italian and Spanish heritage. Growing up, she would flexibly use Italian, Spanish and Portuguese in conversations and mixing languages has always been something natural for her. She attended Universidade de São Paulo, Brock University, and completed a PhD in language education at OISE/University of Toronto. Angelica moved to Montreal in 2018, when she accepted a position as assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at Concordia University and became a BILD member . For more about Angelica see our Active Members page.
After decades of research, the field of applied linguistics has finally recognized that languages in fact constantly and actively interact with one another, making it difficult to completely switch off one language while keeping another turned on. Continue reading