“Your English is very good!”: A compliment? (by Dr Zhongfeng Tian)

Zhongfeng Tian, our guest blogger this week, is originally from China, and a multilingual speaker of Mandarin and English with conversational fluency in Cantonese. He holds a PhD degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College and is currently an Assistant Professor of TESOL/Applied Linguistics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. As a former ESL/EFL teacher, he worked with students of different age groups and cultural and linguistic backgrounds in China, Cambodia, and U.S. His research is theoretically grounded in translanguaging and critical pedagogies, and he strives to transform emergent bilinguals’ learning experiences through creating heteroglossic, meaningful educational contexts. He is the co-editor of two books: “Envisioning TESOL through a Translanguaging Lens: Global Perspectives” (Springer, 2020) and “English-Medium Instruction and Translanguaging” (Multilingual Matters, 2021).

As a former international student who is originally from China and has learned English as a foreign language, I have often got praised for my English skills in the U.S.: “Your English is very good!” or “You speak English very well”. While these comments affirmed my hard work in my past years of English learning and boosted my confidence to a certain degree, the more I heard them, the more I have felt conflicted about these “compliments”: they were just like constant reminders that I am not a “native” English speaker and I am an “outsider” in this country. Usually after this comment, people will follow up with a series of questions: “Where are you from?”, “Are you from China?”, and “How long have you been here?”, for example.

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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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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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Translanguaging for communication and identity (re)building: The story of a 74-year old Brazilian woman in Montreal (by Dr Angelica Galante)

Angelica was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and has both Italian and Spanish heritage. Growing up, she would flexibly use Italian, Spanish and Portuguese in conversations and mixing languages has always been something natural for her. She attended Universidade de São Paulo, Brock University, and completed a PhD in language education at OISE/University of Toronto. Angelica moved to Montreal in 2018, when she accepted a position as assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at Concordia University and became a BILD member . For more about Angelica see our Active Members page.

After decades of research, the field of applied linguistics has finally recognized that languages in fact constantly and actively interact with one another, making it difficult to completely switch off one language while keeping another turned on. Continue reading

Haiti—Where Theory Meets Reality (by Dr Caroline Riches)

Haiti, it seems, is not a common destination, as people express an element of surprise and curiosity when I share that I have visited there. I have the privilege of being part of a project that involves research and professional development work with in-service English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers in Haiti. The story of how I got to be involved with this work in Haiti will have to be told another time, but suffice it to say that it has exposed me to a completely other world. Continue reading