Reflections on Heritage Language teaching and learning (by Emmanouela Tisizi)

For the past three years, I have been working as a Greek heritage language teacher in a Greek secondary school in Montreal. The first two years, I was assigned grade 10 classes, whereas this year, I was assigned a grade 7 class. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with students of different ages. Even though I have taken several courses on children’s developmental psychology, pedagogics, and school psychology, I truly believe that being given the opportunity to work with students of different ages has been by far the most informative experience I have had.

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The emotional load of multilingual parenting (by Dr Sabine Little)

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.

Sabine Little, our guest blogger this week, works and researches at the University of Sheffield, UK. She can be contacted at s.little@sheffield.ac.uk, Twitter @sabinelittle.

In my research, I work with multilingual families, exploring emotional and pragmatic attachments to heritage languages (Little, 2017), and heritage language maintenance, in general. My conversations with families are often tinged with exhaustion and guilt – parents worry that they are not doing enough to maintain the heritage language, that they don’t have access to the right resources, or that they are simply doing it “wrong”. I uncovered, like other researchers before me (Okita, 2002; Czubinska, 2017), the emotional load of multilingual parenting. What intrigued me was why some parents felt compelled – despite this emotional load, despite inter-marital arguments, and ongoing fights with their children – to insist on speaking the heritage language to their children, whereas others were happy to adopt a more laid-back approach. At times, I felt a disconnect – our own son, Toby, at age 4 (having just started Reception school in the UK), declared that he would like to ‘take a year out’ of speaking German, while he was learning to read and write in English – and I agreed. I agreed, even when, after that one year, he asked to take another year out, because he didn’t feel confident in reading and writing in English yet. For two years, German all but disappeared from our lives – and I thought it would be gone forever.

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Wait! Don’t close that door just yet…. (by Eowyn Crisfield)

Our guest blogger this week, Eowyn Crisfield, lives in The Hague, in the Netherlands, but is originally from northern Alberta. She found her passion for Applied Linguistics at Concordia (BA TESL 1997, MA APLI 2005). She is now an educational consultant, working specifically in the area of languages in education. Her focus is to provide a bridge between research on language acquisition and teaching and practical applications in schools, communities, and families. Her work with schools is linked to developing curricula and pedagogy that responds better to the needs of language learners in schools. She also works with families on family language planning. Eowyn is co-author of the recent book Cultural and Linguistic Innovation in Schools: The Languages Challenge (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) and can be found fighting the good fight for linguistic equality on Twitter at @4bilingualism.

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