KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Dr Inmaculada García-Sánchez (Temple University)

Dr. García-Sánchez is a linguistic anthropologist with a strong interdisciplinary training in anthropology, linguistics, and education. Her work examines immigrant children and youth’s communicative practices, broadly conceived, in the contexts of educational institutions (both secular and religious), peer groups, and families, and across linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries.  Her research agenda combines long-term ethnography and fine-grained discourse analysis of language use (in both interviews and everyday practices), along with archival and print material. This approach allows her to contextualize everyday linguistic and sociocultural practices within a larger sociohistorical frame. Her research agenda offers a critical dialogue between linguistic anthropology, educational ethnography, and socio-cultural development of bi-/multilingual immigrant children and youth.

Paradoxes of Being an Immigrant Child Language Broker under Neoliberal Conditions: Lessons for School

In this paper I examine how neoliberal conditions have exacerbated the paradoxes surrounding the practice of immigrant child language brokering.  In particular, the paper centers on three paradoxes: The first paradox examines the expectation for immigrant child language brokers to be neutral and detached conduits of someone else’s voice, and how this expectation is fueled by neoliberal language ideologies that assume that a person’s voice represents a unified self; the second paradox focuses on the invisibilization of the labor provided by immigrant child language brokers in the current sociohistorical and geopolitical context – a time in which the children of immigrants increasingly have to speak for their families in everyday life; and the third paradox explores the intersections between the neoliberal subject as it relates to modern notions of childhood, on the one hand, and racialized and classed ideas about immigrant children and their families, on the other.  An ironic, but consequential outcome of these exacerbated paradoxes has been the entrenchment of enduring deficit discourses and ideologies about immigrant children as drains on educational and social resources and as linguistically lacking.  These raciolinguistic ideologies are incongruent, however, with an increasingly robust body of research findings that show that in language brokering, immigrant children engage in rich communicative practices, display sophisticated deployment of multilingual linguistic tools, and exhibit keen metalinguistic awareness involving strategic decision-making in translation.  The paper closes with a discussion on how schools can tackle language education for immigrants in ways that center, honors and build on immigrant children’s linguistic knowledge and strengths rather than their deficits.

Dr Jürgen Jaspers (Université libre de Bruxelles)

Jürgen Jaspers is a sociolinguist and associate professor of Dutch linguistics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. His research mainly focuses on the ethnographic study of classroom interaction, urban multilingualism and linguistic standardisation processes.

Informal multilingualisation, ideological dilemmas, and educational purposes

Schools in both of Belgium’s largest linguistic communities have in recent years addressed the growing importance of marketable multilingualism through organising immersion classes as well as content and language integrated learning. Such initiatives are mostly taken in elite schools however, while non-elite, urban, schools often become multilingual informally and inadvertently, as the result of their pupils’ diversifying linguistic backgrounds. This informal multilingualisation invites pedagogical challenges, but also leads to ideological anxieties, especially in Dutch-medium schools where ample studies show that teachers have very negative attitudes towards the use of other languages than Dutch – also inspired by policymakers’ claims that Standard Dutch is crucial for guaranteeing equal opportunities, jobs, and social cohesion. These negative attitudes are commonly taken to illustrate teachers’ ‘monolingual habitus’ and they are contested as obstacles to making compulsory education more multilingual, notably through using non-elite languages. Building on ethnographic data from several Flemish schools, however, I will emphasize in my presentation that despite these attitudes, classroom practice already wavers between monolingualism and multilingualism, because teachers associate both ideas with competing educational purposes that stem from widely shared, but contradictory, ideological values. I will use these findings to argue that attempts to make compulsory education more multililingual, and their connection with broader processes of change, can be usefully discussed against the background of the relation between the multiple purposes of education, the values they are based on, and the dilemmas that they create for different stakeholders.