Educational Research and Innovation

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

2076-9679 (online)
2076-9660 (print)
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This series of books from the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovations provides the results of OECD work on innovation in education.

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Languages in a Global World

Languages in a Global World

Learning for Better Cultural Understanding You do not have access to this content

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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Edited By:Bruno Della Chiesa, Jessica Scott , Christina Hinton
24 Apr 2012
9789264123557 (PDF) ;9789264123243(print)

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The rise of globalisation makes language competencies more valuable, both at individual and societal levels. This book examines the links between globalisation and the way we teach and learn languages. It begins by asking why some individuals are more successful than others at learning non-native languages, and why some education systems, or countries, are more successful than others at teaching languages.

The book comprises chapters by different authors on the subject of language learning. There are chapters on the role of motivation; the way that languages, cultures and identities are interconnected; the insights that neuroscience provides; migrants, their education and opportunities to learn languages; language learning and teaching in North America; and new approaches to language learning.

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  • Foreword
    The "Globalisation and Linguistic Competencies" project was launched by the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) in 2007 and, after a planning phase, actually started in 2008. The purpose of this venture was to shed new light on questions which, in spite of their growing importance in this era of globalisation, are only marginally tackled in the education research literature: Why are some individuals more successful than others at non-native language (NNL) learning? And: why are some education systems or countries more successful than others at non-native language (NNL) teaching?
  • List of contributors
  • Key concepts and acronyms
    The following list is not a glossary: it is not meant to explain the meaning of supposedly unknown words but to clarify what is understood, in this book, under each of the words/phrases below, which are of frequent and common use, but are nonetheless equivocal.
  • Preface
    This remarkable book takes on the big questions of language diversity around the world and its relation to education. These questions are among the most important for the future of humanity on earth. With a globally interconnected economy, unprecedented levels of migration, and a continuous stream of information circulating the planet, children are growing up in a globalised world. Globalisation is not an option but a fact that permeates every village, city, nation.
  • Executive summary
    In our globalised world, language competencies are increasingly important. It is no longer an advantage for a job seeker to speak just one non-native language (NNL). Rather, it now could be a drawback for a job seeker to only speak one language.
  • Introduction

    The project on "Globalisation, Languages and Cultures," which led to the present book, was launched by OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) in 2007, but actually started after one year of planning, in 2008. It was conducted in close co-operation with Harvard University Graduate School of Education (HGSE) between mid-2008 and mid-2011. The purpose of this project was to encourage the exploration of elements generally not considered (and largely underestimated) in the process of language learning.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Globalisation, languages and motivations

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    • Learning languages in a globalising world
      This chapter situates the debates to follow in the present context of globalisation. Given the expectations of the labour market, the explosion of ubiquitous "communication" around the world and the massive movements of populations, language learning issues are more salient than ever. Even before formal instruction takes place in an individual’s life, aspects to be explored crucially relate to the key relationship between language(s) and culture(s). From this perspective, while pointing at issues raised by formal learning, this chapter starts to explore the causal relationships between different forms of motivation (for language learning) and perceptions–representations of the world, especially as far as alterity is concerned, introducing the first innovative hypothesis to be presented in this book, entitled the "motivation vortex". Dealing with languages: Why now?
    • Motivation and second language acquisition
      This chapter examines past research on the role motivation plays in the success of learning a second language. We begin by providing a comprehensive overview of the key conceptual models that have applied the construct of motivation to second language acquisition, namely Gardner and Lambert’s seminal Socio-educational Model of Motivation on Second Language Acquisition. Next, we present an overview of more contemporary conceptual models, which are more inclusive and integrative in nature, and examine how different aspects of the learner and the learning situation might influence motivation and learning outcomes. Then, we turn to the operationalisation and measurement of second language motivation and present an overview of recent empirical work on integrative motivation and second language learning. In our final section, we discuss group differences in motivation and second language acquisition, with an emphasis on the influence of gender, age and culture/ethnicity.
    • Motivational theories on language learning
      This chapter presents motivational theories beneficial for language learning with examples from author’s experience to illustrate implications of theories. Four theories are presented in this chapter; stimulus appraisal, motivation and attention, self-determination, and mindset theories. Stimulus-appraisal theory explains how a person creates value system and how it relates to language learning motivation. Motivation and attention topic illustrates how stress and attention affect motivation in language learners, while self-determination theory suggests the importance of intrinsic motivation in language learning and how educators can positively influence learners’ intrinsic motivation. Lastly, mindset theory shows how fixed and growth mindsets towards own abilities can help or hinder language learning. These theories provide us with useful implications for improving motivation in language learners.
    • Economic incentives for language acquisition
      This chapter reviews the literature on language proficiency and the economic incentives that potentially lead individuals to invest in the acquisition of language skills. The aim is to understand whether (and to what extent do) individuals respond to economic incentives to acquire non.native language skills. The empirical literature is limited and only provides indirect evidence on the impact of economic incentives. This chapter suggests that this is due to difficulties in locating variables capturing economic incentives, and the appropriate empirical methodology that would help identify the marginal effect of economic incentives on language acquisition, controlling for other determinants. We describe possible reasons behind this challenge along with a first reflection on strategies to better assess the impact of economic incentives.
    • Bilingual education policy and language learning in Estonia and Singapore
      Within the last decade, conversations about globalisation have shifted and evolved in several ways as countries have experienced increasing demographic changes. The heightened presence of non.native language learners (NNLL) moving within and across borders has implications for many areas of society, including education, social and health services, and national and international security. By exploring the academic literature base and collecting cross-cultural and cross-national data on current trends and experiences, we will be better equipped to ensure that our institutions and their constituencies are prepared to meet the needs and reap the rewards of multilingualism. The cases of Estonia and Singapore offer two lenses through which I examine how educational and linguistic policy can interact with other factors including immigration patterns, identity formation, language use, socio-economic development, and political policy.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Cultures, languages and identities

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    • Seeing the world through our hands
      Our spontaneous gestures greatly enrich our speech. A burgeoning new field of research investigating communicative gestures has begun to uncover the ways we use our hands to communicate. Recently, this field has broadened its focus to include cross-cultural analyses of gesture use. In this review, I summarise recent findings stemming from this body of literature. I then discuss the role of gesture in second language instruction and acquisition, arguing that a focus on gesture can augment non.native language pedagogy. Lastly, I present neuroscientific findings providing evidence that gesture does indeed facilitate the process of communicating in a second language. I hope to convince the reader that gesture has already taught us abundance about how people around the world communicate and, in turn, students will communicate more effectively with people around the world if we teach the importance of integrating gestures in their speech.
    • Ideologies and alphabet reforms in Central Asia
      Despite its long history, alphabet reform is a largely untouched area of linguistics. The implications of changing scripts extend far beyond linguistics into the realm of economics, science, education, religion, technology, politics, and ideology. Which of these factors is the most central in determining whether or not a society changes its alphabet, even when there is a risk of illiteracy? Why are alphabet reform processes successful in some nations and not in others?
    • Verlan, l'envers
      This chapter explores the social and cultural implications of the contemporary use of verlan. Verlan is the language game which inverts the syllables of words in order to encode the French language. Not just a game, verlan usage pervades everyday language, music, and culture of the beur population, the children of immigrants from North Africa, who live in the suburbs of cities such as Paris and Marseilles, France. The author finds verlan to be inextricably linked to modern French language and culture, as it reflects of the mixed identity of those who most often use it: not quite French, but not entirely magrebin (North African) either. Rather than subverting it, the culture with which verlan is most closely associated enriches French culture, just as verlan adds nuance and complexity to the French language.
    • Cochlear implants, deaf culture and narrowly defined cultural characteristics
      Cochlear implants are medical devices that help previously deaf individuals gain or regain partial hearing. Many medical professionals consider them an essential component of treating deafness. Members of the Deaf community, however, consider the implants to be a direct assault on their carefully nurtured way of life, which embraces deafness and cultivates cultural markers based on the absence of the hearing sense. This chapter examines the medical and ethical arguments in favour of Cochlear implants, as well as the arguments of the Deaf community in opposition. Without taking sides, it further attempts to tease out some of the ethical, moral, and cultural issues revealed by this particular incidence of conflict. Its brief examination of the issue reveals that the increasing capabilities of technology are already beginning to call into question the survivability of many cultures, and perhaps fundamentally altering how we define culture itself.
    • Neuroscientific research and the study of sign language
      The field of neuroscience has contributed a great deal to our understanding of how the brain understands signed languages, and conversely, the investigation of signed languages has helped neuroscientists to better understand how the brain understands language. This chapter provides a summary and exploration of the research in neuroscience that is related to signed languages, including research on deaf participants, hearing participants, and aphasic signers. Also included here is a discussion on how signed vocabulary is understood, as well as the comprehension of both grammatical and affective facial expressions among the deaf. Implications for scientists conducting neuroscientific research are discussed.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Landscapes, languages and policies

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    • Competencies in Canada in a globalisation context
      If language assets provide a comparative advantage in a globalising world, Canada appears well placed. This Canadian case study examines evidence from a country with two official languages and a high proportion of immigrants in the population. Canada’s language wealth has grown as shown by total number of languages spoken and the growth in the number of languages; growth in the proportion who know English and French, and other languages; and the number of people knowing more than one language. Several factors affecting the growth of language wealth in Canada were analysed. Multicultural and bilingual policies have been influential. Though hard to quantify the economic and social benefits to the individual and society, soft evidence was found for such benefits. Allophones who work in both official languages earn a good living while retaining their heritage language. Furthermore, the economic benefit to proficient users of English was shown through multivariate analysis.
    • Catalan language policy and the challenge of new immigration
      Catalan, the native language of Catalonia has survived since the medieval era despite foreign conquest, a national dictatorship and the banning of its use. Catalan has been the official language since 1983 with the creation of a language policy to re.establish the normative use of Catalan, making it the main language for instruction and communication in public schools. By 2007 the language was spoken, written and read in 97% of the regionfs schools. Yet, a new challenge has emerged with the large influx of foreign immigrants, which has turned Catalonia into the Spanish region with the largest concentration of immigrants. The Catalan government (Generalitat) has responded with attempts to ensure the Catalan languagefs continued use through the creation of three policies. This chapter describes the role the Generalitat has played in re.establishing the use of the Catalan language and analyses how the region has adapted to this new immigrant population.
    • Education and creativity in Tanzania
      When discussing education in developing nations, such as Tanzania, the role of creativity rarely comes up. Resources, in the form of local artists and musicians, are abundant – but how can we equip this population of artists to take the role of educators, and subsequently connect them with the students that so desperately need an outlet for creative growth? Based on my time working as a musician and music teacher in Tanzania, I highlight one organisation that is working towards this very goal, and discuss why the role that this organisation fills is so vital.
    • English as a multicultural language for international communication in Asia
      As most Asian countries recognise English as an indispensable language for intranational and/or international communication, they are increasingly committed to strengthening and improving English language teaching (ELT). In parts of Asia where English is an official language and ELT succeeds, people may speak English among themselves. Wherever this happens, a set of indigenous language patterns develops. Similar situations have also been witnessed in countries where English is taught and learned as an international language. We need to fully understand these aspects of present-day English if we are to take advantage of English as a language for communication. One important issue is mutual communicability among speakers of different varieties of English. Based on the observation that a common language is not a uniform language, but rather a diverse language, this chapter argues that a way of dealing with English as a multicultural language for worldwide communication is not restrictive conformism but diversity management.
    • Language education in Japan and Korea
      This chapter examines the contexts of English language policies and how they are developed, formulated and implemented in Japan and Korea. This analysis examines each country’s policies through historical, sociological, economic and political lenses in order to understand the multidimensionality of non-native language (NNL) teaching and learning. The two countries are compared and contrasted to determine which NNL learning and teaching practices are shared, and which are specific to each country’s particular context. This analysis also allows the authors to speculate as to which characteristics may support or impede success in NNL learning and teaching. Implications for policy and practice in terms of NNL learning and teaching for each of the countries, as well as for other countries, are explored.
    • Language learning and Chamorro culture in Guam
      What are the competencies required of a responsible member of a global society, and how will he or she acquire them (see Hinton, this volume)? The answer offered here is explored through non.native language learning. Research by socio-linguists has focused on language and socialisation and tells us that competencies required of a community are passed on through language; hence through learning a second language, one can also learn a new set of competencies. This chapter reviews theories of language acquisition as a basis for pedagogy. It examines the idea of interlanguage, the linguistic system used by learners of a second language, and the idea of an interperspective, the perspective developed through interaction with non.native language and culture. It offers an example of what a curriculum focused on teaching language through culture might look like, using the indigenous language of Guam.
    • Language learning in Peru
      This chapter aims to analyse language acquisition and educational outcomes in the Peruvian Quechua native speakers learning Spanish, considering the implications of neuroscientific analysis in the reinforcement of cultural paradigms. Based on the relationship between history, culture and linguistics, the issues resulting from learning Spanish as second language are presented. These are then concretely examined through the impact of functional convergence to establish how learning both languages efficiently becomes a complex yet necessary endeavour. This bridges the analysis to temporally-relevant brain functions that are affected when learning both languages, using the Event-Related Potential framework. Cognitive stimulation through effective child-rearing practices is exemplified as a potential tool for improving language acquisition of either, and both, languages at an early age, taking into consideration socio-cultural concerns.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Movements, languages and migrations

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    • Why study abroad? Why not!
      Today it has become increasingly important to open minds to cultural awareness and understanding as the world’s populations become more and more interconnected in the global age. In the American higher education system, participating in a study abroad programme is one way that students can access, learn about, and function within these foreign countries, languages and cultures. This chapter begins by providing an overview of four common reasons for and benefits of studying abroad. Next, it summarises current study abroad trends and statistics, including who is studying abroad, where they are going, and where they come from. Finally, it seeks to shed light on factors, both positive and negative, contributing to current United States college students’ decision whether or not to study abroad, using survey research from students at an American public university. The conclusion will propose future avenues for further research in the field.
    • Migrants, language and education
      Migrant children across countries and contexts may have very different experiences in terms of the education and economic outcomes. This author takes a closer look at two neighbouring countries and how they deal with migrant students and immigration: The United States and Canada. Immigration policies as well as language and educational policies and interventions are described for each of the countries. The author finds that these school systems must employ highly trained teachers who are prepared to work with a population of students who may not speak the national language. She also confirms the benefit of positive representations of migrant children’s languages and cultures in the academic environment.
    • Migrants, early tracking and social mobility
      Migrant children suffer from lowered expectations and poor educational standards in many countries around the world due to a number of factors. In this chapter, we explore the case of Germany, a country with a very rigid tracking system. The author finds that children who are migrants and from lower SES families are more likely to be tracked into the lower tiers in the German educational system, even when they score at similar levels with higher socio.economic status children. The economic, social and cultural capitals of migrant students are explored, as is language competency and its effect on school placement as well as future employment outcomes.
    • How the Mexican education system contributes to emigration
      As national borders become ever more porous and the world becomes a more tightly interconnected place thanks to new technology, ease of transportation, and increasingly global markets, domestic education policy should strive to prepare the next generation as members of a global society (see Hinton, this volume). According to data from the United States Census bureau, the number of international migrants in the world may double by 2050 (Süssmuth, 2007). As a result of this staggering increase in people living in countries in which they were not born, many questions arise about where people migrate, for what purpose, and what role the country of origin plays. How does the Mexican education system prepare (or not prepare) its citizens for a role in the global marketplace? Does Mexico create a class of lowskill workers for the benefit of the United States? What implications for the future can be drawn from the Mexican example?
    • Intercultural or multicultural education in Europe and the United States
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Learning languages, means and ends

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    • Cosmopolitan education
      Cultural evolution has vastly outpaced biological evolution. A baby born into this situation would flounder if it were not for brain plasticity, and schooling. Babies are born with biological predispositions, and they build on these as they learn from the culture around them. With schools, children can learn vast amounts of cultural knowledge in just a matter of years. This is how biological inclinations for language and numbers have been dramatically extended to create literacy and mathematics. In our globally interdependent world, we need to extend our biological inclination for care in an analogous way. Our brains evolved for a world where we lived in small clans and only needed to care for the people in these clans. Now, we live in an interconnected world in which our actions have ripples in a broader global matrix. We need to extend our biologically based inclination for care to peoples in all corners of the world. Schools can play a key role in nurturing this cosmopolitan ethic of care.
    • Music as an underutilised and underappreciated tool for language learning
      In our globalising era, it is crucially important for the economic success of nations and the personal success of individuals to be able to communicate with our fellow human beings (see Rodriguez.Chamussy, Lopez.Calva and Miyamoto, this volume). Effective non.native language instruction is an increasingly high priority. This chapter examines the possibility that exposure to and instruction in music could aid in this endeavour. We will first investigate the relationship between music and language from a neuroscientific perspective. We will then discuss the possible applications of this relationship in non.native language acquisition. We will also explore the potential for music to increase gcultural competence,h i.e. an awareness of and appreciation for other cultures. Finally, we consider the implications these conclusions have for education policy, and the future of music in schools.
    • "Expansion of our own being"
      For consideration by the education community, here is a provocative hypothesis regarding the relationships between acquisition of languages, consciousness of cultures, and development of ethics in human beings. Starting from the basic idea according to which "a fish does not know what water is," I postulate, using the mathematical metaphor of the "tesseract," that mastery of several languages is not only essential to developing cultural consciousness but also a key to (partial) access to global awareness. How about applying the developing understanding of empathy in the brain toward the design of new approaches to language education that maximise its potential to cultivate a positive local-global dialectic in students? This might open research avenues for a number of disciplines; if sound neuroscientific work, possibly combined with quantitative studies, proves the hypothesis right, then we may hope to take one small step toward more tolerance: yet another "giant leap for mankind"?
    • Epilogue
      In a globalising world, language policies in education are confronting many challenges and often become subject to fierce political debate. The historical objectives of language education linked to nation-building and state-formation are reshaped by the linguistic consequences of migration, international trade and the interaction of other (" foreign") languages with the national language(s). Schools are rapidly becoming complex multilingual environments. Language policies in education have to find a new balance between the need for high literacy skills in the national language(s) and increased proficiency in several non-native languages. Policies regarding languages in education are not only important for language skills as such, but also have profound consequences for raising intercultural awareness and enhancing a positive recognition of "otherness".
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