What is it about accents that we find so interesting? I am intrigued by accents in terms of language dialects and varieties, accents of plurilingual speakers in their language repertoire and accents of L2 learners. I am fascinated by the regional accents of French in Quebec [you can tell if a francophone is from Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean or Abitibi, for example, from their accent (Brad, 2014)], which I think are Canada’s answer to Trudgill’s example of regional accents of English in England in his Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society classic (2000).
Although immediately, as I began to write this blog post, I wondered if everyone is as fascinated by different accents as I am. I am English-Canadian, and grew up in very WASPish areas of Toronto, Pittsburgh and Montreal – looking back now, I imagine that I did not hear a lot of language diversity in my formative years. Do I notice accents more than other people? It is different for those who grew up in more multilingual environments? Or is it just that I am interested in anything to do with language?
McGill Master’s students in Education and I have just finished a wild ride through
what’s called a “Special Topics” course from January through mid-April. It was
called “Acquiring Indigenous languages as second languages,” and was quite
possibly the most exhilarating, tormenting, troubling and ultimately satisfying
experience I can recall in 25 or so years of teaching graduate courses in
But I have to
re-think that word “teaching,” because I have no illusions that I taught that
course. It taught me.
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.
Our guest blogger this week, Narjes Hashemi, is a second-year master’s student in Education and Society in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. She has been working as a graduate research assistant (GRA) on the SSHRC funded project “Countering religious extremism through education in multicultural Canada”, under the direction of Dr. Ratna Ghosh. She graduated with a BA in Sociology degree from the University of British Columbia. Her MA thesis explores women’s roles in preventing religious extremism in Afghanistan.
My name is Narjes. اسم من نرجس است. It’s an Arabic and Persian name meaning a specific kind of daffodil (also known as Narcissus flower). It’s a very popular name in the Middle East as well as in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Iran and India. In Iran, it’s commonly known as Narges. In India, Tajikstan, and Afghanistan, where I’m from, it’s spelled Nargis but it’s really all one name, pronounced and written differently in different countries.
The more a teacher knows about a student, the more equipped [they are] to organize an instructional program that caters directly [the student’s] social and intellectual needs (Warren, 2014).
My doctoral thesis examines empathy in social institutions, specifically medical institutions. One of my chapters will be on race and empathy. Recent events both here and in the US have got me thinking about diversity (or lack thereof) and empathy (or lack thereof). My questions here are on where empathy fits into a discussion on diversity, and on what, if any, effect empathy has on the creation of, or dealings with, diversity. To this end, and to bring to a close my blog entries for this academic year, I’d like to talk about how empathy affects diversity in the classroom.
Every year, on March 25, the Greek Independence Day is celebrated. This date marks the official start of the Greek Revolution in 1821, which ended eight years later with the Independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire. People celebrate this day every year across Greece, with the parade being the capstone of all festivities. Students, cultural organizations, and people serving in the Greek army all participate in the parade to honor their ancestors and commemorate their achievements and sacrifices for the country.
The celebrations are not limited to the regions of Greece. Every year, the Evzones or Evzonoi, the members of the Greek Presidential Guard, participate in the parade honoring the Greek Independence on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Greeks who have emigrated also hold celebrations on March 25. There are festivities and parades in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (Australia), New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia (USA), Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (Canada) to name a few.