Colloquium at the occasion of the Institute of Multilingualism's 10th anniversary
27th November 2018
Institute of Multilingualism, rue de Morat 24, CH-1700 Fribourg
- Prof. Dr. Nancy Hornberger (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
- Dr. Valelia Muni Toké (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France)
- Prof. Dr. Alex Mullen (University of Nottingham, UK)
Programme (PDF) (coming soon)
Participation is free of charge but registration is mandatory.
Registration deadline: 1st November 2018
Registration (coming soon)
Researching bilingualism and multilingualism implies navigating an area in which the borders between scholarship and socio-political engagement become blurred. Personal, regional or national attitudes and values factor into the choice of research topics, and they play a role when funding is sought as well as when research findings are disseminated – and, not infrequently, instrumentalised. In scholarship as in language policy, the perspectives, values, and beliefs change with the times and, in certain contexts, contradicting standpoints often exist at the same time. While the pathologisation of bilingualism was a tendency that could be observed far into the 20th century, bi- and multilingualism is now commonly seen as a quality that generates cognitive and economic added value; indeed, it is now monolingualism that is pathologised, as evidenced by titles such as ‘Monolingualism is curable’ (‘Einsprachigkeit ist heilbar’, Ammon, Mattheier, and Nelde 1997).
For the 10th anniversary of our Institute, we are taking monolingualism as the starting point for a critical reflection of core themes in our disciplines. From the vantage point of research into language ideology, we would like to ascertain the position that monolingualism currently occupies in the relevant discourses on language policy and language instruction. Has monolingualism disappeared entirely as a goal of language-policy? When regarding certain individuals or institutions, can we say permission to practise monolingualism is granted (for instance, in minority settings) or denied? How, if at all, are mono- and multilingual ideologies connected?
From the standpoint of research into language acquisition and psycholinguistics, we are faced with the question as to whether, or to what degree, monolingual test subjects are even in existence – as a control group or baseline – and, if they do exist, what role such comparisons should play from a theoretical point of view. Other questions concern whether bidialectism should be considered a form of bilingualism and which comparisons with so-called monolingual norms are meaningful in our research contexts. Although many scholars reject such comparisons (sometimes categorically), others view them as an essential element in their research design. Moreover, many scholarly settings continue to observe monolingual norms concerning the working language (commonly English, as might be expected) – even in publications and at conferences explicitly dealing with bi- and multilingualism.
Finally, from the standpoint of research in the field of teaching and learning, the question arises as to whether the classroom setting should be monolingual – when teaching general subjects as well as when teaching a language (either the school language or a second or foreign language). This question of choosing the ‘right’ language in the classroom – for teachers as well as for learners and the materials used – more and more frequently concerns multilingual educational approaches. It also arises in the context of increasing introduction of immersion and CLIL settings, with their functional-communicative focus on language use. Differing regards on monolingualism and bi- and multilingualism are also reflected in the design of teacher trainings and continuing education courses for language teachers, where there are currently signs of a shift from a pedagogy of teaching individual languages as L1 and L2 to a general pedagogy of (foreign) language instruction.
Taking concrete research findings as well as theoretical considerations and institutional contexts as a basis, we plan to consider the value that current scholarly explorations into linguistic-societal diversity place on monolingualism – both in the sense of an ‘ideological’ value and regarding actual practices of monolingualism.