A patchwork for the identity of the learner in diversity

The patchwork conference (SIG 10 & 21) organised by the European association of early research in education (EARLI), discussed research related to learning and misunderstanding diversities. The challenges of the conference dealt with nuances of processes taking place in social interaction, relationship between what happens in the schools and out of the school, articulation between different sides of learning, diversity and interaction in social spaces, and negotiation and understanding the meaning construction. The meeting also aimed at bringing together discussions on the reconstruction of the educational system with the inclusion of diverse identities and cultures. As the symbol of the conference, the patchwork was understood as actively bringing together different research domains in learning and education.
Among the interesting researches that were presented during the conference, Mrs Tinde KovaČ CeroviĆ presented her own experience as a bridge council between research in education and educational policies. She talked about the challenges faced by researchers in making research results applicable because of the misunderstandings that occur between research data and researchers on the one side and policymakers on the other side. In the organisation of the learning niche, researchers and policymakers should world hand in hand. Therefore, there is a need of meaning-making and joint vision and mutual support between researchers and education policymakers for research results to be applied properly. Her ongoing works calls for a search for an attempt to bring together these two worlds. In her opinion, researchers should be consistent of how to package research results for it to be understandable by policymakers, and they should be careful with the way meaning is mediated through media.
Ed Elbers discussed the relevance of discussions related to minority in school. He questioned why researchers do neglect diversity and thinks that one of the first reasons is the low number of the career opportunities related to diversity researchers. In his opinion, researches results should awake policymakers’ awareness about the diverse communities we are living in nowadays and the challenges that this situation means for education and learning and teaching. The context of learning and teaching should be considered and education should not minimise the importance of looking at specific groups, rather how children circumstances influence their learning development should be focused on. Instead of preferring general theories of learning and teaching in the research community, as it is the case in many research domains, the tools we use in teaching and learning should be included in research and theories should consider the practical and symbolic contexts of children for learning and development. The professor encourages a parent-teacher talk for overcoming conflicts and encouraging the expression of misunderstanding between members of the groups.
Jaan Valsiner questioned the way we look at the other and calls for an objective instead of a moralistic stance. He discusses the place of development in education and asserts that it takes place in time and evolves transformation; it neither happens at the beginning nor at the end state, rather at a transition state where there is no longer A but not yet B. Development happens at the border of what it is not yet and what it could be. Valsiner’s theory on the state of development is very interesting because it highlight another perspective of the zone of proximal development (ZPD). If “all development takes place in the heterogenic space” as Valsiner discussed it, then the learning of Luxembourgish should not be investigated at the beginning state of learning nor at the state where learners are already independent speakers, rather at the state in-between learners struggle with the TL and learners’ interlanguage can be analysed.
My own presentation on naturally occurring interaction in the everyday lives of multilingual adults learning Luxembourgish was discussed and improved with comments and critics related to the analysis of data…

Discussing affordances at L3 Warsaw

Defined as “a spectrum of phenomena”, affordances can be manifested through actions, objects, possibilities, events, facts and realities, etc. It is always in plural because affordances work by sets; i.e., knowledge, motivation and context constitute the set of individual affordances (see Larissa Aronin).
Used in the first times in physics, design and psychology, the concept of affordances develops in linguistics and multilingual studies. David Singleton presents language affordances as affordances through the realization of which communication using a language or languages, or the acquisition of a language or languages is possible.
How do affordances work?
First, sets of affordances are required to be available in order that a given action may be performed, a given goal attained.
Second, each action/goal requires the availability of its own specific set of affordances.
Third, exactly which, how many, and in what configuration affordances need to be present depends on the particular nature of the relevant action/goal, actor(s) and environment.
Four and last, affordances function in sets: each set relating to a particular outcome.
Affordances may be created by individuals or provided by the society. In a multilingual context, affordances for using one language may be denied and affordances for using a different language provided. This last point on affordances explains its interest for the lLAL project.

Luxembourg – Luxembourgish: A curiosity at the L3 Warsaw

“What is the dominant language in Luxembourg”,
“Isn’t Luxembourgish a dialect of German?”
“How is the everyday life in Luxembourg without Luxembourgish?”
These are questions that appeal for assumptions on Luxembourgish as a linguistic item rather than for discussions on scientific studies on Luxembourgish as part of learners’ reality in a particular multilingual and multicultural context.
Anyway, my paper on multilingual adults’ perceptions of the values of Luxembourgish was a successful presentation of researches carried out at the University of Luxembourg under the support of the FNR. Interesting questions concerned data transcription and whether the participants to the focus group only used one language each or code-switched during their talk. Another interesting question was on the intended method for investigating on the contradiction that appears in the learning of Luxembourgish as described by the participants to my MA study.
At the end of the presentation, I invited the participants to the L3 Conference to satisfy their curiosity towards Luxembourg and experience its multilingual context. I also invite them to get inform on Luxembourgish by reading about researches carried out by the IPSE research unit and the DICA research group.

“L’action se passe en Pologne, c’est-à-dire nulle part”

15-17 September 2011, Seventh International Conference on Third language acquisition and multilingualism, University of Warsaw, Poland.
With the always developing researches into multilingualism, the once unknown Poland hosted 67 presentations and thousands participants from all over the world discussed new dimensions of multilingualism and their diverse perspectives on future researches in multilingual contexts.
Interesting discussions on multilingual contexts over the world open the conference and Hanna Komorowska presented the history of multilingualism and multiculturality in Poland from the Jagiellonian Period and the partitioning of the country to its disappearing from the map for the 20c. motivations and demotivations toward language learning. In the history of Poland, religion and linguistic diversity were intimately linked together; language and identity, ethnicity and nations were considered important issues and civic categorisation was the basis for linguistic categorisation. Nowadays, multilingualism is promoted and there is a possibility for language choice with English as the most chosen language in linguistic constellations. Although Spanish is another flourishing language, English tends to be the lingua franca in second and foreign language education in Poland. The interesting presentation of the multilingual context in Poland was followed by many questions from the participants who wanted to know about the role of religion in linguistic categorisation today and the motives of families in their different choices of linguistic constellations. Yet, because of the strict respect of timing, not all questions could be answered.

L3-Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism

The seventh international conference on Third Language Acquistion and Multilingualism will be hosted by the University of Warsaw on the 15th-17th September 2011. Discussions will address research issues in multilingualism, the multilingual society, multilingual education and teachers training, the affectivity of multilinguality, multilingual literacies and educational policies.

Under the topic of the multlingual society, I will present official and social discourses on the motives of multilingual individuals to learn Luxembourgish. The paper will discuss Luxembourgish as an additional language in a context where two internationally more valuable languages play official roles.

Learning Luxembourgish as an Additional Language – lLAL

In the multilingual context Luxembourg with French and German as the languages of legislation and administrative matters, an interesting issue for multilingual researches and second language acquisition (SLA) is the analysis of multilingual speakers’ attitude toward Luxembourgish, the national language.

The project-lLAL focuses on the learning of Luxembourgish by multilingual adults and the learners’ relationship with the social contexts in which the language learning is taking place and the structuring of the learning opportunities that are made available. Emphasis is laid on the correlation between learning and using Luxembourgish in everyday interactions and social activities.