Under its agreement with the International Association of Applied Linguistics, the research network (ReN) recognises the importance of current and future research in the area of social and affective factors in home language maintenance and development.
Therefore, the ReN aims to lobby for the uptake of research findings by policy practitioners and to provide expert advice to stakeholders. This mission statement sets out a guiding framework for this lobbying work, including what the ReN sees as its guiding principles, goals, and advocacy priorities.
The ReN recognises that:
research and policy ideas that are made accessible and usable by policy makers, including through user-friendly language and data for non-linguists, can influence public and political discourses on linguistic diversity.
some home languages may be represented in school curricula, while others are not. In both cases, language in education policies and language ideologies can directly influence the future of home languages, such as by supporting language maintenance, fostering positive attitudes to linguistic diversity, and encouraging bilingualism.
this minority situation commonly risks home language communities shifting from the home language to monolingualism in their society’s dominant language in subsequent generations.
home languages are languages that are not the dominant languages of a community. They may for example be the languages of migrants, indigenous communities, and other marginalised groups.
individual bilingualism and multilingualism culturally and economically enrich communities and community members. Children are benefitted cognitively, psychologically, and socially when afforded access to, and encouraged to learn, both the dominant language and the language of their heritage community.
The objectives of the ReN’s advocacy work are:
to advocate with evidence-based policy solutions, recognising that the impact of advocacy work is greatly augmented by ReN members offering critical analysis to current arrangements and by offering policy solutions backed by empirical data that stakeholders can consider, discuss, and use.
to tailor engagement with these policy makers and curriculum developers by harnessing not only insight from international research but through local perspectives.
to raise awareness among policy makers and education curriculum developers about linguistic diversity in mainstream classrooms and to normalise classroom linguistic diversity in policy, teacher training, and teaching practice.
to influence public policy processes in the members’ home countries by advocating the individual and societal benefits of fostering home languages of minority communities with the view to informing policies that welcome sustained bilingualism and multilingualism in the home language and in the society’s dominant language.
Priority focus areas
In order to advance these objectives and to maximise the ReN’s impact in policy and curriculum development, it is important that ReN members strategically coordinate and concentrate their advocacy in areas that are deemed to require immediate focus. Doing so will:
increase the impact of the ReN by executing a visible and like-minded programme of advocacy in the nations represented by the ReN members.
ensure the ReN’s advocacy work is coherent, targeted, and informed by collective agreement on what the ReN aims to achieve.
support strategic and thematic reporting to AILA on the ReN’s advocacy activities.
The ReN agrees that for 2016-2017, its immediate priority focus areas for its advocacy work are:
to help destigmatise individual bilingualism and multilingualism by advocating the social, cultural, economic and cognitive benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism of the individual and of society.
to position linguistic diversity as a normative characteristic of classrooms in the minds of policy makers, and to advocate the cognitive and social benefits of encouraging home language children to develop their bilingualism.
to engage teacher training providers on research that illustrates the cognitive and pedagogical benefits of recognising linguistic diversity in teaching practices, including practical suggestions for addressing linguistic diversity and child bilingualism or multilingualism in mainstream teaching.
to advocate the recognition of linguistic diversity in classrooms as a normative component in teacher training, and the introduction of key themes in child bilingualism in coursework for education qualifications.
To give effect to these objectives and focus areas, the work of ReN members may include, but is not limited to:
coordinating advocacy work, including representations and workshops, around key international dates including world mother language day.
developing user-friendly brochures that summarise pertinent research results and disseminating these to non-academic stakeholders, including government officials.
partnering with home language communities to support, develop, and endorse their own advocacy work.
partnering with education faculties in the ReN members’ home institutions to promote the inclusion of literature on linguistic diversity and bilingualism in teacher training courses.
hosting workshops and information sessions with teachers about managing linguistic diversity in the classroom.
writing to, and presenting to members of government, education policy officials, and other key stakeholders to update them on research relevant to language policy and language in education in their communities and to propose policy solutions.
inviting members of government, education policy officials, and other key stakeholders to address ReN-associated workshops, conferences and meetings or to participate in round table discussions with ReN members.