Language Policy and Multilingualism (Conference abstracts, Jan. 20, 2020)

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Farran, BEnglish as a Foreign Language in Palestine: A Case Study of Evaluating GSCE (INJAZ) 2018 English Exam

Evaluating language assessment tests aims at developing a country’s education system by providing continuous feedback on the content and results of language exams. The current picture of language education in Palestine – including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – reflects high percentages of literacy, which reaches up to 98%, according to 2018 UN and WorldBank reports. Nevertheless, the quality of TEFL output from the assessment tests has not received enough academic attention so far. Accordingly, this study investigates the extent to which the Palestinian (INJAZ) GSCE English Exam (2018) matches the standardized criteria of the CEFR framework based on a descriptive analytical approach and on a content analysis method to fulfil the scope of the research. The exam chosen for analysis is prepared for students who have spent 12 academic years studying English. The paper analyzes the exam according to the CEFR criteria of a good test in general, meanwhile the individual items are assessed according to Bachman & Palmer (1996) checklists. The results show that the INJAZ English exam not only fails to match the CEFR framework but also does not meet the objectives of (TEFL) assigned by the Palestinian Ministry of Education as the test proves to focus on reading and writing language skills and lacks the assessment of speaking and listening skills, which negatively impacts the learning processes and outputs of TEFL in the country. The results highlight on the status quo of TEFL in Palestine and the need to empower language policy in implementing the Ministry of Education TEFL objectives.

Kafi Razzaq AhmedLanguage Assessment and Placement Test in Collins International Institute for English Language- Erbil/Iraq

In Iraq - Erbil there are many institutes that teach English language to the students merchants, businessmen and anyone who would like to learn and speak English language. The notion that speaking ability has always been a source of instructional focus in the development of L2 proficiency and in classroom-based and high-stakes assessment instruments might seem intuitive, (Isaacs, 2016). This study shows the assessment of speaking skill according to CEFR of learners of English as a foreign language at Collins International Institute for English Language Learning in Erbil - Iraq. To do so, students are interviewed one by one in a placement test according to CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) levels in order to assess their language levels. This test (interview) indicates the level at which a student will learn most effectively, the aim of the test is to create groups of learners that are homogeneous in level. It is designed to tell both teachers and students how much material the student doesn’t know or hasn’t yet mastered, "INTRODUCTION TO ISSUES…, N.D.".

Marzban, SMultimodal Analysis of Gender Identity in Localized ELT Textbooks

With the advent of technology, and ease of creating and implementing pictures, images gradually found their way into textbooks as print media and got a prominent educational role in language. However, the power of mass media for distributing power relations and stereotypical ideologies cannot be denied. The present study has been an attempt to apply a multimodal analysis from a social semiotic perspective to investigate how gender identity is presented in national (Iran Language Institute) ELT textbooks’ dialogues. To do so, five items of contact, social distance, attitude, narrative representation and composition were examined in visual and verbal panels of dialogues using Kress and Van Leeuwen’s (2006) reading images model and Halliday’s (1994) framework, respectively. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the relative frequency of each category. The analysis of visual and verbal discourse revealed males are depicted as powerful, active and socially important participants. In contrast, females are underrepresented, shown less active, and socially less important. The article concludes with some guidelines for textbook designers, teachers and students to be more attentive to multimodal issues and be aware to take critical views and uncover the underlying represented ideologies. Key words Localized ELT textbooks, multimodal analysis, a social semiotic perspective, visual discourse, verbal discourse. References: Halliday, M. (1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold. Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, Th. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Anna I.A. JarourThe case of Jasmin

There is no doubt that bilingual children growing up in a bilingual environment, where they are exposed to at least two different languages, need linguistic input in order to develop bilingually. Differences and similarities in patterns of children's language choice in different contexts may interpret an important component of bilingual children's linguistic behaviour which is related to patterns of parental input practice. In this study, we will investigate some aspects of multilingual development of Jasmin, a five-year-old child of a Palestinian-Canadian bilingual family living in Canada, where the Arabic/English/French speaking father's first language is Arabic and the English/French bilingual mother's is English. The parents claim that they practice the ‘one parent – one language’ strategy but with different degrees of adherence. For Jasmin, exposure to Arabic, which is not the language of the society, is mainly limited to the home. In this paper we analyse the 25-minute-long dialogue sample which was recorded via phone call.

Mariia PopovaMaintenance of the Russian language in the post-Soviet states

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the changes of the state borders caused changes in the status of the Russian language and, consequently, the position of the speakers of this language. The Russian-speaking population had become a national minority in the newly formed independent states. The attitude toward the Soviet influence was reflected in the language policy of the post-Soviet countries and varied from the granting the official status to this language to taking a course of national-state construction. In the present contribution, the language policy of post-Soviet states regarding the Russian minority populations is described. The ethnolinguistic vitality model of Giles (1987) was used to identify the state of the Russian language in the studied region. In the second part of the paper, a description is given of the implementation of the Russian foreign language policy that aims to support and maintain the Russian language and culture through various organizations coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its subordinate organizations: the Russkiy Mir Foundation, Rossotrudnichestvo and the Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights and non-governmental organizatins. The attention is also given to the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in maintaining the Russian language in the post-Soviet states.

Mambetaliev, AA critical review of bilingualism advantages

The main purpose of this study is to provide a comprehensive (to this moment) answer to the question: Do, really, bilinguals have certain cognitive advantages over monolinguals. The method of the study includes: 1) A retrospective analysis of the educational achievements of a group, consisting from monolingual (about 50%) and bilingual students. 2) A critical text analysis of the selected top publications, which represent those: a) who insist on bilingual advantage; b) who are skeptical, and c) who try to find the truth in between these arguments. A dozen publications (Miyake et. al. 2000; Bialystok, 2001; Bialystok, Craik, Klein, & Viswanathan, 2004; Bialystok, Craik, & Ryan, 2006; Friedman et al., 2008 and Miyake & Friedman, 2012), have reported that bilinguals develop certain executive functions in their brain, which are not present in monolinguals. In particular, bi- and multilinguals are believed to be better in creative thinking, metalinguistic awareness, logical thinking, flexibility in thinking and the enhanced ability to learn languages. However, other studies (Hilchey & Klein, 2011; Kousaie and Phillips, 2012; Humphrey and Valian, 2012; Paap and Greenberg, 2013, among others), provide several challening questions, which need to be (re)considered before making the final conclusion on bilingual advantages. In particular, confirming previous reports, De Bot argues that the listed “vague concepts” are hardly testable and suggests that infering conclusions in favor of bilingual advantage based on the results of research on executive processing (EP), which is responsible for updating, inhibition and switching, needs further clarification, since the very existence of these functions (in)dependently within the cognitive content is under question, and therefore, it’s not possible to consider bilingualism as the only factor. He also calls to pay attention to bilingual disadvantages as well, since several studies report that both bi- and multilinguals were slower than monolinguals in a number of lexical tests. In a search for a representative conclusion for the growing discussions, which employ both the adversarial style and selective skepticism (Bak, 2016), this article makes an attempt to include both ideas which are represented in the three different studies. It also attempts to present the ideas as not adversarial, but as a starting point for another possible dimension of research, for example, the possibility of transferability of linguistic skills to certain areas of the disputed findings. Keywords: Bilingualism, Advantages, Critical View, Cognition, Dementia.

Ibtissem SmariThe multilingual identity: Tunisian case study

Language has been for a long time viewed as an identification insignia providing one of the best telling clues for people’s identity and where they belong. Exploring issues of identity can be extremely complex, and necessitates engagement with a wide range of different fields that have explored the notion of identity in different ways. This relationship between language and identity is symbiotic and it is enormously supported in the recent literature (Block 2007; Edwards 2009; Joseph 2004; Liamas and Watt 2010; Ricento 2005). The current study considers the phenomenon of multilingualism among Tunisian adults of 19-25 years of age. It explores whether multiple language acquisition has any impact on identity. It supports the idea that multilingualism carries implications for identity because of the characteristics of spoken languages. We chose to work with our theme in a mixed-methods research manor. For that two materials have been used which are: a survey questionnaire and an interview.While expecting to find that multilingualism reflects a conscious association between language and identity, instead we found different perspectives. Although Tunisians hold a positive attitude towards multilingualism and its advantages in general, only some of them have associated their ability to speak different languages with the fact of having separate identities. They believe that the coexistence of the languages is a defining characteristic of Tunisia. They did, however, indicate considerations of how multilingualism have shaped their thinking and attitudes. Key words: multilingualism, identity, multilinguality, multilingual identity