Language: The Gift that Keeps on Giving (by Shelina Adatia)

Shelina Adatia is a PhD candidate in Societies, Cultures and Languages at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education. Her doctoral research focuses on the inclusion of culturally and linguistically diverse learners (i.e., learners whose first language is not English or French) in French Immersion. She is a recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship, awarded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and a 2019 SSHRC Storytellers finalist and winner of the Storytellers Engagement Prize. Her Storytellers video can be viewed here. Shelina is also a certified teacher at the Intermediate/Senior levels with the Ontario College of Teachers. Prior to commencing her graduate studies, she taught French as a Second Language classes at the secondary level.

’Tis the season, friends…for hand washing, social distancing and all-around coronavirus chronicling. The chaos of COVID-19, the global pandemic of our time, is upon us. While academics near and far transition to online teaching, and in some cases, extended break parenting, gift-giving is likely not top of mind. Recently, however, I discovered the gift of all gifts. A gift I’ve always had without fully appreciating its worth. Spoiler alert, friends – it’s not toilet paper! The gift I am referring to is none other than language – the gift that keeps on giving.

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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, 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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