Descendant of the “good” immigrants (by Rhonda Chung)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

If I go back to where I come from, it means going back to Toronto.

If I go back to where my parents were born, that country no longer exists.

My parents were born not in Dutch Guiana (Suriname), or French Guiana (Guyane française), or Spanish Guayana (Venezuela), or Portuguese Guiana (Brazil), but in British Guiana (Guyana), a small coastal country located in the north-eastern region of South America.

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Une enfant bilingue? Sera que tem isso na minha casa? (by Caroline Dault)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

L’autre soir, au souper, alors que nous recevions des amis et leur fils, j’ai eu la chance de participer au dialogue suivant :

Leur fils, six ans : « Moi, j’suis con. »

Moi : « Comment ça, t’es con? »

Leur fils : « À l’école, ils disent que je suis con. »

Moi : « Qui dit ça? »

Leur fils : « Ben, les autres. »

Moi : « Ah bon? Pourquoi? »

Leur fils : « Ben dans les jeux je fais toute sorte d’affaires. Je me mets la tête en bas, je grimpe sur le dessus des jeux… »

Moi : « Ah!!! Je comprends. Tes amis se trompent de mot. Je pense qu’ils veulent dire que tu es courageux, téméraire, que tu n’as peur de rien… »

Ma fille de cinq ans : « Non, non. C’est pas ça. Ce que tes amis veulent dire, c’est que t’es audacieux. »

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When the nail that sticks out cannot get hammered down: Belonging despite languaging race (by Mama Nii Owoo)

This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.

Mama Nii Owoo is a Ph.D. candidate in Language and Literacies Education and Comparative International Development Education at OISE. She is the founder and lead researcher of the Afroliteracies Foundation, a Ghanaian based think-tank for indigenous African languages.
Mama’s research interests lie at the intersections of language policy, decolonial theory, ethnography, teacher education, and critical action research.  Her doctoral research uses ethnographic film to explore how language experiences shape the way teachers implement educational language policies in Ghana. Mama has taught Spanish and English as foreign languages in Ghana, the United States, and Spain.

I hear that in Japan there is a popular saying出る釘は打たれる; “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” Without an expert opinion of how thoroughly this saying is experienced in Japan, I surmise that for the Japanese, the Japanese identity is a marker of social acceptance. The perception that an identity is misplaced within this context provokes a form of societal discomfort. And so, for minorities, the question of belonging is a tough and sensitive maneuver. Hence, when my nephew was born in Japan to Ghanaian parents who were learning Japanese, I discussed with my sister how they would help him navigate belonging. “Well, for one he would have to learn Japanese,” she said. But would he feel accepted just by learning Japanese? From experience, I know that the world is a cruel place for minorities who wish to belong. Despite my enjoyment visiting Japan, I was thankful when my sister’s family moved out of Japan just as my nephew started to learn to read. I explain below the complexities of belonging.

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What do you mean by social justice? In English, really? (by Yecid Ortega)

A few years ago, when I was in Colombia (in South America) for a conference, many English teachers were having conversations about the peace agreement between the far-left guerrillas and the government. Some teachers came to me and wondered whether English teaching had anything to with peace or even social justice. At that time, I thought, “I have never heard about such a connection,” so I started digging a little bit about it and there was not much literature related to the issue out there. Coincidentally, I was at the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) conference in Orlando that year. I stumbled upon a panel where Rebecca Oxford was presenting; I was fascinated by her talk about peace education in applied linguistics and English teaching. I guess it was destiny that was putting me in the direction of my future work. A while after, my supervisor came to me and showed me a book that sparked even more my curiosity towards my work for social justice in English language teaching.

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Short Reflections on Being Bilingual (by April Passi)

Hello everyone! Like many of you, I’m just getting settled back into my life as a teacher and student after a really lovely summer. Here in Montreal, Canada, we had a lot of hot, humid and sunny days. But as I write this post out on my balcony, I’ve had to put on some warm socks and wipe the rain off of my table. Everything is cool and grey and damp; autumn is here, I think! My neighbour’s laundry is out on the line, and I wonder if it will actually dry today.

I did manage to do a bit of reading over the summer, mostly related to the social multilingual turns in the field of SLA, and to bilingual/plurilingual education. As often happens, my reading has helped me to reflect on my own life and experiences.  I travelled outside of Quebec a bit this summer, once to Toronto and once to Calgary. In Mela’s post last week, she wrote about her experience of moving from an Anglophone city to a Francophone one and the shock of experiencing a different ambient language. I experienced the reverse over the summer.

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