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Poyhonen Birmingham2009
 

Poyhonen Birmingham2009

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Talk in Language, Discourse and Society (LDS) seminar, University of Birmingham, School of Education 9.10.2009

Talk in Language, Discourse and Society (LDS) seminar, University of Birmingham, School of Education 9.10.2009

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  • Migration processes in the past decades have fundamentally changed Finnish schools into becoming multilingual and multicultural. This holds challenges to schools and especially teachers in understanding different values, interests and literacy practices of pupils who do not only represent diverse national, ethnic and linguistic groups but also heterogeneous subcultures and communities of practice (Wenger 1998; Barton & Hamilton 2000). Schools as institutions have the power to categorise social identities. These categories are inscribed in cultural models of schooling and transmitted through teachers’ interactions with pupils, but also through, e.g., curriculum and materials design (Hawkins 2005, 79). As Hull and Schultz put it, it will be even more crucial for teachers to be able to acknowledge and support pupils’ identity work and negotiate the boundaries between school and out-of-school literacies in offering access to varieties of languages, speech genres and literacy practices (Hull & Schultz 2002). This talk is based on a study that examines immigrant pupils’ literacy practices and construction of identity in schools and out-of-school contexts. I will focus on the literacy practices immigrant pupils are socialized in Finnish as a second language classroom, and their possibilities to construct and manifest multilingual and multicultural identities in the school settings. If school is not able to offer immigrant pupils enough knowledge and skills to function in a society, learning of those skills is left to the responsibility of the pupils and their communities. In order to become members of Finnish society immigrant pupils usually have to change literacy practices that they have learned at home (Blackledge 2000), which can lead to assimilation of the mainstream culture. There is also a risk of displacement and inequality (Warschauer 2003).
  • English has become an important language in Finland especially during the past few decades. Nowadays, there are, in Finnish society, areas of language use in which English is used even tough people could use their mother tongue. Thus, unlike many other new minority languages, the increased use of English is not caused by an increase in English-speaking immigrants (in the end of 2006 English was spoken as the mother tongue by approximately 9600 persons); instead, English is the everyday language of many Finns.
  • Capital region: 8 % of all pupils Turku & Tampere (and other big cities outside Capital region): 3-7 % Other parts of Finland: less than 2 % The objective of immigrant education is to provide people moving to Finland with opportunities to function as equal members of Finnish society and guarantee immigrants the same educational opportunities as other citizens. (National Board of Education http://www.oph.fi/english/education/language_and_cultural_minorities/education_for_immigrants
  • Literacy practices are not observable units of behaviour since they also involve values, attitudes, feelings and social relationships (Barton & Hamilton 1998). Reading, writing and talking about texts are all social practices (Barton & Hamilton 1998: Street 2000; Pitkänen-Huhta 2003) that define individual’s identity. In other words, language and literacy practices work as symbolic resources in negotiating the identity (Martin-Jones 2000, 153). Through participation in different literacy practices individuals define their identities, manifest their membership to groups, and ownership and authorship to texts (Gee 1990; Cope & Kalantzis 2000; MacCleod 2004; Bartlett 2005). Thus, literacy practices are situated into social and cultural acts of identity (Ivanič 1998; Lankshear 1997). What kind of texts & practices are valued? What texts are neglected? Miten arvot näkyvät tekstivalintojen lisäksi arviointi- ja palautekäytänteissä, työtavoissa ja pedagogisessa kulttuurissa (opettajan ja oppilaan roolit, oppimiskäsitys jne.)? Miten tekstikäytänteet liittyvät käyttäjiensä identiteettityöhön; erilaisiin lukija- ja kirjoittajapositioihin?
  • The notions of language and identity are discussed in this talk and in my study in the framework of the dialogical philosophy of language, specifically the potential contribution of dialogism as a poststructuralist theory to contemporary discussion on language and identity that is developed further in the West. Dialogism embraces the idea that language does not exist as a stable, unified and simplified system, but is dynamic and multilayered in nature . In contrast with the monological and structuralist view of language (inspired by Saussure), dialogism sees the multiplicity and heterogeneity of language as its inherent and essential property .
  • In this sense, a person does not have one single and permanent linguistic or ethnic identity but his or her identity varies with regard to different social interactions . Identity is not, however, constructed or changing in a random or arbitrary manner but it is also linked with a historical and socio-cultural dimension, thus gaining continuity and stability . Hence, identity is at the same time fragmentary and whole. Instead of one identity we could talk about several identities that have different meanings in dialogical situations. There are several social worlds to which an individual has access, and through language these social worlds are shaping an individual’s identity and an individual is shaping the social worlds. As David Block puts it: “Individuals are shaped by their sociohistories but they also shape their sociohistories as life goes on .
  • The overall picture isn’t different from the immigrant pupils’ point of view.
  • I’m not saying that we should put the text books into a trash bin and bring computers to the classrooms instead and the world would be more bright and beautiful, everyone would be happy. There is a question behind this, namely how we see learning and teaching as a shared activity? What kinds of literacies are valued? What are neglected or prohibited, even?
  • Miten sitten saataisiin erilaiset oppimisympäristöt kohtaamaan toisensa? Miten koulu voisi monimediaistua ja monikielistyä? Miten se voisi tukea nuorta paperimaan kansalaiseksi, tietoyhteiskunnan jäseneksi? Miten nuori voi tuoda esille omaa asiantuntijuuttaan, tuottaa erilaisia identiteettejään?
  • The pupils were very skilled in IT technology, and they didn’t need so much support in these skills. Instead, they needed linguistic and content support about the text types or genres if you will; how to make a review, news, how to make interesting interview questions, what is a Survey etc. The data of this case-study consist of field-notes & texts produced during the intervention as well as group-interviews among the pupils. We wanted to record sessions, but were not given a permission to do that.
  • Magazine for pupils with Finnish as a second language They ended up in a more or less multilingual name: None of the pupils spoke Spanish (at least as a mother tongue), so this must have come from all sorts of linguistic resources during their life-span.
  • The name of the magazine was talked once and awhile during the project and this discussion was going on during the last week of the project. For us who have restricted linguistic resources in Internet Slang, LOL means ”laughs a lot”
  • The first lines ”we are interested in”… were suggested by a team-researcher when she was discussing with the pupils, why they chose this topic, and why especially these questions. The pupils were quite reluctant to write anything about their aspirations, instead they tried to keep the survey-interview as neutral as possible. Nevertheless, you might guess that there is at least a gender bias in the questions…Especially if you look at the second question, a very hot topic among girls of this age.
  • So what they did on the basis of the interviews was this kind of visual presentation (not a linear text), which is Comedy first, action second, science fiction third, Johny Depp was according to the responses better than Brad Pitt, most of the pupils watch films late at night, quite a many go to cinema often, and all of the respondents watched foreign films.
  • S2-opetuksessa, entä aineen opetuksessa?
  • In a school setting there are possibilities of different participants to construct and manifest their authorship, ownership, and expertise in their literacy practices, but:

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