What is research and who is it for?

This is such an important issue – and this blog explains exactly (perhaps without meaning to) why few teachers engage in research, either actively or as a consumer. There is so much out there, from poor research to great, and from poor events to great, and teachers have such limited time (and budgets) that trying to weed the chaff from the wheat must feel overwhelming. Thankfully, there are more and more researchers now like Victoria Murphy who are making the bridge from research to practice and to make the critical work they are doing accessible and applicable to the teachers and schools it should be helping!

EAL Journal

In the last of our mini-series of research blogs, Victoria Murphy asks what counts as research and whether everything that teachers are presented with should be given equal weight.


Victoria Murphy

Research comes in many forms, from reading reports of previous studies to carrying out randomised control trials (RCTs), and everything in between. There’s often an implicit hierarchy at work, and we are told that only large scale studies are more reliable, for example, or that only action research can capture the truth of teachers’ everyday experiences. The truth, though, is that the quality of the research cannot be determined simply by identifying the nature of it. For example, a systematic review (which takes a well-defined, systematic approach to reviewing the research literature to address a particular research question) is very different from, for example, a study where teachers are interviewed to determine their thoughts, opinions, and beliefs about a specific issue…

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Promoting home language use: How do we make a difference?

When I was in Hong Kong last week and meeting with parents and teachers, the subject of discussion was often the issues raised in my previous blog post about HK parents choosing to speak English with their children rather than Cantonese. Inevitably, someone would ask how we can change this pattern of choosing the higher-status … Continue reading Promoting home language use: How do we make a difference?

Throwback Thursday: Language Status: How cool is your language?

on raising bilingual children

I’ve written many, many posts about bilingualism over the years, and some I think deserve to be resurrected from the archives of my blog… last weekend I gave a seminar at the DRONGO Festival of Multilingualism in Utrecht, talking about bilingual education. People generally agree that bilingual education is a good thing when two “important” languages are involved, but as soon as we start talking about bilingual education involving immigrant minority languages, many people become uncomfortable. Why is that? It’s because of language status issues, described in this post from 2012.

One of the unfortunate realities of bilingualism is that success or failure is often determined by language status. Yes, it’s true, languages have “status”. Some languages are high status, some are low status, some are in the middle. It’s not an unchangeable rating – it depends on where you are and what other languages are involved. Here in the…

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LKALE on stage: The Bangor International Conference on Bilingualism in Education

I wrote this post on a round table I co-hosted with four other members of the Language and Linguistics in Education research group. We are all working on the critical issue of teacher knowledge for the task of teaching language alongside content in schools. Enjoy!

Linguistics and Knowledge about Language in Education

by Eowyn Crisfield

To round off the 2015-2016 academic year, five LKALE members hosted a round table at the first Bangor International Conference on Bilingualism in Education. Convened by Urszula Clark, the round table entitled “Teaching with and for diversity: What teachers need to know about language and how researchers can (and should!) support them” addressed key aspects of LKALE’s mission to broaden teacher knowledge about linguistics and how it influences classroom learning.
The round table was opened by Eowyn Crisfield, with a paper that contextualised the common mantra “Every teacher is a language teacher”. Eowyn explored the types of training that “language teachers” receive, and compared to the skills needed by regular classroom teachers in order to function as language teachers alongside their roles as subject teachers. She discussed results of a teacher-training pilot project and findings that indicate that targeted INSET can make a difference in both attitudes…

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Bilingual education in NYC set for big expansion – NY Daily News

What great news! Over 30 more bilingual education programs, in languages that matter to the community! The focus of bilingual education should first be enhancing the languages of the community, before turning to adding in other (high-status, of course) languages. Kudos to NYC educators and policy-makers for getting it right! Big Apple public schools are … Continue reading Bilingual education in NYC set for big expansion – NY Daily News