In Defense of the Physical Classroom (by April Passi)

Several months ago, I had thought about writing a post in defense of the physical classroom. It seems that right now is the perfect time to write this post. We are all practicing social-distancing and many governments have closed schools. As administrators, teachers, and students grapple with moving their classrooms to the virtual realm, we might like to reflect on how this (temporary?) relocation will change our perspectives on what a classroom really is. 

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Joint Sojourners and Co-Learners on a Plurilingual Journey (by Dr Shakina Rajendram)

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 is Shakina Rajendram, a teacher educator and researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Shakina’s research focuses on preparing teachers to support plurilingual learners in K-12 classrooms through multiliteracies, collaborative learning, and translanguaging.

“Good morning, students. My name is Shakina, and I’m here to learn Tamil from you.” 35 faces stared back at me, with looks of confusion and slight amusement in their eyes. A few students stole quick glances at the daily schedule plastered on a notice board at the back of the classroom. It was their English period now, and they were expecting to meet their new English teacher for the year. So, who was this person at the front of the classroom asking to learn Tamil from them, then? A few students muttered something to each other under their breaths. I continued, “I’m brand new to your school, and my Tamil isn’t very good. I heard that you’re all Tamil language experts, and I would love for you to be my teachers this year.” A few students chuckled quietly, but still, no one responded to me. I gathered up all the courage in me and said something in the little Tamil I knew, “நான் தமிழ் கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சம் தெரியும்” (I know Tamil, a little little). Laughter erupted all across the room. “Teacher, எப்படி இல்லை!” (Teacher, that’s not how you say it!). I smiled. This was going to be the start of a beautiful plurilingual journey together.

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Engaging students through narratives (by Emmanouela Tisizi)

This semester has been particularly hectic for me. I’ve been juggling two jobs while also being a full-time PhD student. I teach an undergraduate course on second language learning at McGill University, where I work with a group of 76 students, most of whom are perfectly bilingual (or multilingual!) and come from diverse ethnolinguistic backgrounds. At the same time, every Saturday I teach Greek language and culture to a small group of 16-year-old students of Greek heritage. Most of these students go to French immersion schools on the weekdays, so their opportunities to use the Greek language are limited to their interactions with their family and these Saturday classes, which are organized by the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal.

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Translanguaging pedagogy: ¿Qué significa? (by Dr. Alison Crump)

This term, I’m teaching a graduate course called Educational Sociolinguistics and we’re blogging (the course blog is here). In the course, we explore social, cultural, and political dimensions of (second) language education, and there’s a lot of resonance with what we write about here in the BILD community. The course blog is our public facing space for ongoing ‘sociolinguistic noticing.’ This is the practice of reflecting on connections between our own (and others’) language teaching and learning experiences and sociolinguistic issues (e.g., identity, social status, place, race, gender, language variation, language ideologies, multilingualism, language policy, etc.). Continue reading