Inviting Reflection

Editorial

ALISON CRUMP, Marianopolis College and McGill University

Preamble

When we wrote our last editorial, we were a couple of months into the Covid-19 global pandemic, in the early days of adjusting to separation, staying home, and redefining socializing. Now, we have more months of pandemic life experience behind us, and it looks like a number more on the horizon. In March next year, we will collectively pass a one-year milestone. There is no doubt that this is reshaping our ways of being in all dimensions of social life, not only now, but it also raises questions about how we move through this and into a new post-Covid “normal.”

At the risk of being repetitive, we offer you a second editorial that is defined by the pandemic. To be sure, it is very hard not to locate our thinking about belonging, identity, language, and diversity (BILD) in the current context. In fact, this is exactly what we should be doing – we need to be thinking about the impact of the current global situation on BILD issues. We also cannot ignore the uprisings against systemic discrimination and racism that are shaping the educational landscape. In the last editorial, we wrote about how what we do individually contributes to the collective common good, emphasizing that our local, individual actions and choices matter. In this editorial, we build on that notion with a shift in focus to BILD issues in the context of teaching and learning. Pedagogy has always been a central part of the activity of educational institutions, though in research-focused higher education institutions, pedagogy has been given lower status and attention than research activities. Now, the attention has shifted to teaching and learning in unprecedented ways, and more than ever before, professionals with expertise in pedagogy (instructional designers, pedagogical counsellors and education consultants, etc.) have become indispensable resources in support of the teaching and learning activities of educators. Seasoned educators have been pushed quickly to re-examine everything they know about their professional identities and have had to question fundamental notions that make up those identities.

Teachers across education sectors have rapidly shifted their practice to online teaching, and this has meant learning new tools and technologies, learning new ways of assessing learning, trying new strategies to foster student engagement, carrying new responsibilities for implementing safety protocols, understanding privacy in digital spaces, and striving to create communities of learners who connect in meaningful ways. I’m sure J-BILD readers could add many more to this list (and in fact, you can! Feel free to leave a reply at the bottom of the HTML version of this editorial). These many new challenges, opportunities, realities are more central to pedagogical practice than perhaps they ever have been. (Though not so new for e-learning specialists). And all this intentional and explicit focus on the why, how, what, and for whom of teaching means there are many questions to consider about the themes that make up the pillars of J-BILD. We are all navigating so much new territory and we have a lot to learn, reflect on, and build forward from as the landscape of education reacts, responds, and readjusts.

This issue of J-BILD includes 2 critical literature reviews, 1 research proposal, and 2 research studies, which reflects the mission of J-BILD to publish scholarly works from all stages of the research cycle, and to support emerging and developing voices in the scholarly community.

The 5 articles that make up this issue of J-BILD, while based on research that predates pandemic days, do invite reflection that is needed in the current context. We encourage you to read them with a view to what they offer our understandings the four pillars of the journal in ways that will contribute to the common good.

Article Summaries

Critical Literature Reviews

Hector Alvarez’ “Critical Literature Review: Native speakerism within the Asian Context” opens with a personal story of the author’s  experience as an experienced English teacher from Argentina looking for work in Asia and facing discrimination as a non-native speaking teacher of English (NNEST). Using  his own experience as a springboard for his research, Hector examines three questions in his critical literature review: 1) Why are Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTs) still considered superior to Non-Native English Speaking Teachers (NNESTs) in many international language schools?; 2) How can misperceptions about NES or NNEST status influence hiring practices within the Asian context?; and 3) What type(s) of research could help counteract current biases towards NNESTs? In this article, Hector makes it clear that fixed identity categories and the ideologies that maintain them have real and material consequences for individual experiences. Hector’s argument that more research on teacher classroom performance is critical for debunking the native speaker bias, is even more urgent in our current reality.

Lexa Frail and Lisa Gonzales’ critical literature review, “Plurilingual Pedagogy in Switzerland: Practices and Challenges” evaluates literature on current implementations of plurilingual practices in Swiss education and determines how such practices are perceived by instructors and students, both in terms of effectiveness and engagement. The works of literature chosen for the review consist of studies that measure Swiss teacher and student attitudes towards plurilingualism and its use in the classroom, as well as how plurilingualism teaching methods appear in practice. In their analysis, they find that there is a disconnect between plurilingual instruction in theory and in practice, with multilingualism viewed largely as a collection of multiple monolingual systems. Frail and Gonzales argue that to implement a true plurilingual shift in education will take more research and resources, which are essential in our globalised, increasingly multilingual world.

Research Proposal

Mona El Samaty’s research proposal,  “The sense of belonging of second-generation Arab youth in Montreal” draws on two definitions of belonging in this article: 1) as feeling at home and having strong feelings of attachment towards a place or a community (Goitom, 2017) and 2) as only a reflection of the extent to which immigrants and their children feel attached to their host society, as well as the extent to which they feel accepted by the majority population (Banting & Soraka, 2012). In particular, El Samaty will use these framings of belonging in her research to understand how second-generation Arab youth in Montreal describe their territorial belonging as well as belonging to different social communities, and how they think they are perceived by the majority population. This study will contribute to the ongoing exploration of factors that both promote and jeopardize the integration and sense of belonging of second generation youth, with the aim of building a more inclusive and participatory society.

Research Studies

Claire McCarthy’s research study, “Speaking another language: Australian multilingual films” uses textual analysis to draw attention to a series of Australian films that represent Asian-Australian migrant subjects, and are multilingual and multicultural representations of Australian life. As Australian multicultural filmmaking developed in the 1990s, so did the presence of Australian-made multilingual cinema, which highlighted Australia’s changing relationship with the Asia-Pacific region, and its growing recognition of linguistic, as well as cultural, diversity. The analysis finds that these examples illustrate the adaptation or creative interpretation of multiculturalism as a national heritage discourse, and raises questions about the practicality of Australian multiculturalism as a national framework in the context of an ongoing commitment to a singular national language, English. McCarthy argues that film informs and shapes how Australians imagine what multiculturalism is; as a nationally sponsored industry, it is not only central to the ongoing construction of national identities, but also to the ongoing production of Australian cultural and multicultural heritage.

Emmanouela Tisizi’s research study, “Teacher identities in Heritage Language Education: the case of Greek Heritage Language teachers in Montreal and Toronto,” focuses on the identities and perceptions of pedagogy expressed by eight Greek heritage language (HL) teachers who teach in primary and secondary Greek schools in Montreal and Toronto. Through narrative inquiry, semi-structured interviews and identity charts, Tisizi argues that there is merit in using translanguaging strategies in the HL classroom. She also finds similarities between the teachers in Montreal and Toronto and Tisizi emphasizes the importance of Greek communities in Canada working together in their efforts to maintain Greek heritage language. This is perhaps more urgent now than ever before.

J-BILD readers, be well, be kind to yourselves. Take good care.

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