My new journey of de-learning and re-learning in the Grand Nord (by Dr. Sunny Lau)

When I first learned about the history of residential schools and how the children had been severed from their communities, language, and culture, I felt a kind of kinship with the Indigenous peoples. Growing up in colonial Hong Kong, I understand, to a certain degree, what it is like to not feel a sense of belonging or to have to speak and excel in a language other than my own. Of course, none of my colonial experience could compare to the abuses and cultural genocide that Indigenous peoples have endured. 

I have recently had the privilege of working with some pedagogical consultants in the ᓄᓇᕕᒃ Nunavik to explore teaching and learning in a context involving multiple languages. As an external consultant, I treaded with much reverence and care, keeping my eyes, ears, and heart open to voices and silences and to alternative perspectives and worldviews. As McGrath (2018) reminds us, “knowledge is relational and therefore knowledge renewal is relationship renewal” (p. 313). Relationship is not only with people but also land to see how selves are intertwined with and constituting each other as well as knowledge.

Continue reading

(Un)learning cognitive and linguistic imperialism in English: Towards transepistemic language education (by Paul Meighan-Chiblow)

Just as I was finishing up a draft of this BILD post, I came across a very relevant and timely blog post on my Twitter feed, Can we ever unthink linguistic nationalism?, by Dr. Ingrid Piller and Dr. Aneta Pavlenko. I’d like to add to this discussion and dialogue by proposing the potential of transepistemic language education. Tranepistemic language education is a way of learning, teaching, knowing, and being which enables respectful and non-hierarchical knowledge co-creation while we engage with languages, peoples, cultures, and lands. I present transepistemic language education as a means to foster more spaces where we can: (1) (un)learn cognitive and linguistic imperialism in language learning and teaching, and (2) envisage languaging that is not only in service of the nation state.

Continue reading

Thank you / ধন্যবাদ: The power of language (by Dr Rubina Khanam)

We are delighted to welcome Rubina Khanam (PhD, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Regina) back as our guest blogger this week. Rubina is a sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. She teaches pre-service teachers in the areas of multilingualism in schools, second language pedagogy, cross-cultural teaching strategies, and social justice issues. Rubina’s doctoral dissertation is about English language planning and policy in Bangladesh as a postcolonial context. Her earlier BILD blog post can be read here .

Do all languages have thank you?

I wonder.

Do they always say it in the same way?

My curious mind wants to know.

Continue reading

My English Variant (by Sumanthra Govender)

I think I’ve commented in past posts that I grew up with my English being questioned. It’s not that I couldn’t speak or write in the language; English is my first language and mother tongue. It’s that the variant of the language I spoke was not the variant of the majority around me. I spoke and in many ways still speak a mixed English with influences from South Africa, Ireland, Canada (West and East, English Speaking and French Speaking), and the US.

Continue reading

Communicating in airports; the moment when people realize the power of language (by Emmanouela Tisizi)

Over the past two weeks, I found myself in four big airports. Though I did not have a chance to actually visit the cities in which these airports are located (I was merely there to catch connecting flights), I did have the chance to observe how people communicate when they find themselves in settings where there are thousands of people from different ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It is in such instances that people realize the power of language, which can either help them communicate or become a barrier and stall them from achieving an immediate and practical goal. Whether they need to find their gate, communicate with an officer or ask information about delayed or cancelled flights, language becomes vital.

Continue reading